' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The Koran Gets It Right: Prohibits Closed Adoptions

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Koran Gets It Right: Prohibits Closed Adoptions

 From the Associated Press:
"Helene Lauffer knew Muslim children - orphaned, displaced, neglected - needed homes in the United States. She knew American Muslim families wanted to take them in.  But Lauffer, associate executive director of Spence-Chapin, one of the oldest adoption agencies in the country, couldn't bring them together.
"The problem was a gap between Western and Islamic law. Traditional, closed adoption violates Islamic jurisprudence, which stresses the importance of lineage.
Instead, Islam has a guardianship system called kafalah that resembles foster care, yet has no exact counterpart in Western law."
Whadda ya know, Islam forbids closed adoptions. One of the world's great religion understands that closing off one's connections to the family of one's birth is wrong. WRONG. I can't help but sit here and think that if we had more Muslims in our legislative bodies--including Congress--all the laws that closed adoptions and made it impossible for your average everyday non-Muslim (ie Christians and Jews) to own their real identities would be repealed.

A good thing. 

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl TechnologyThe difference between Muslim law and the closed adoption system that is still paramount in this country is making it difficult to find permanent homes in America.  Muslim couples who can't conceive want to adopt, but they are unable to and adhere to their faith's teachings because of the sealed records in most states. State child welfare agencies that permanently remove Muslim children from troubled homes usually can't find Muslim families to adopt them because of the restrictions in Islamic law.
"I get all kinds of families who come to me for fertility issues. They want to adopt and they want to adopt Muslim children and I'm thinking this is a crime that they can't," said Najah Bazzy, a nurse and founder of Zaman International, a humanitarian service group in Dearborn, Michigan. [Incidentally, my home town.]
The rules were designed to protect children, by ending abuses in pre-Islamic Arabic tribal society, as adoption in the early era when the Koran was written had much in common with slavery, according to Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. Heads of tribes wanted to gather as many fighters as possible, and ophans' property was often stolen in the process. Consequently,  Muslims were barred from treating adopted and biological children as identical in naming or inheritance, unless the adoptee was breast-fed as a baby by the adoptive mother, creating a familial bond recognized under Islamic law.

The GiftWhen an orphan (or adoptee, in this case) reaches puberty, the Islamic prohibition against mixing of the sexes applies inside the home of his or her guardians. Muslim men cannot be alone with women they could potentially marry, and women must cover their hair around these men. An orphan/adoptee taken in from another family would be able to marry a sibling not related to him by blood. As a result, Muslim countries only rarely allow international adoption.

One would imagine that the Muslim scholars would agree with the UNICEF statement discussed in yesterday's post and that some pro-adoption "experts" find so noxious.  As for the "slavery" connection? Yes, when I make the connection it is purely on legalistic grounds; but it does keep popping up, now doesn't it? --lorraine


  1. However one feels about adoption, touting Sharia law as something to be admired is a bit of a stretch. This is the same system of law that allows stoning to death for adultery, cutting off the hands of thieves, and other barbaric practices. Not two thousand years ago, today. Women in countries where this law is in full effect can't show their faces in public, can't drive, and are the property of men. As are children. Not sanctioning adoption has nothing to do with what children need, but with not letting a bastard inherit or "taint" the bloodline. Like the rest of these laws, it is patriarchal to the extreme.

    I can't really get excited about Sharia law on adoption, given the rest of it. As a religious belief among Muslims in moderate or non-religious based countries, certainly people can follow the less harmful beliefs about diet, prayer, charity etc, but when these laws conflict with human rights and civil law in matters of life and death, Civil law prevails.

  2. Who said anything about Sharia law?

    Muslim religion and cultural norms in many countries where Muslims live do not believe in fabricating a child's lineage. A child can be raised by a family member or relative or even a friend of the family (often considered, though not blood, aunts, uncles, and cousins, but the child's identity stays with the child.

    Sharia law does not by any stretch of the imagination include all Muslims.

  3. Women are very much second class citizens under Islam. And the Koran is anti-semitic as well. If this is the direction this blog is going, I will have to look elsewhere for support.

  4. I am not "touting" anything; I am merely pointing out that Islam prohibits closed adoption. Trust me, I am not a fan of Islam, particularly its truly dreadful treatment of women. Consider the Taliban. I am merely pointing out that Islam prohibits closed adoption.

    In Dearborn, not that many years ago, a father killed his daughter because she either wanted to go to her high school prom, or did go.

  5. Interesting blog Lorraine. I'm not a fan of any religious cult so the blog doesn't offend me. I think the blog is a just a reminder of how diverse societies are.

  6. Lorraine, actually you WERE touting:

    I can't help but sit here and think that if we had more Muslims in our legislative bodies--including Congress--all the laws that closed adoptions and made it impossible for your average everyday non-Muslim (ie Christians and Jews) to own their real identities would be repealed.

    IMHO, not a good enough reason to have more Islamic influence in our country, and especially in our government.

  7. The point you raise about adoption in Islam is interesting because it somewhat parallels the Native American beliefs. Could that be because both Islam and NA culture have much stronger tribal bonds?

    Without trying to start a shouting session, some of the practices deplored under Islam are based upon the same Judeo-Christian beliefs in our own culture. Stoning adulteresses (but not the man) is found in the Old Testament - that is what Jesus was decrying in John chapter 8 (let he among you without sin cast the first stone.) Many conservative Christian denominations including Roman Catholicism and I believe some Orthodox congregations forbid women from preaching, holding leadership positions, ordination, etc. Covering women's hair is in the New Testament, along with submitting to slavery even.

    Point being that many faiths and traditions - not just Islam - relegate women to second class status. For some reason, those who base their faith upon the Old Testament (which Muslims, Jews and many conservative Christians do) seem more prone to treat women poorly.


  8. Anon, Sharia Law is the law of the Koran. Like Biblical law, it can be interpreted in a variety of ways from very liberal to Fundamentalist. However it is interpreted, it is religious dogma of a particular sect, not civil law, which is as it should be.

    The point is that our country's founders very wisely did not base civil law on any religious law. Freedom of religion, and freedom from religion if one so chooses are fundamental to keeping civil law and religious practices and beliefs of any religion separate.
    Adoption law is civil law, how different religions treat their own restrictions and practices is up to them, unless it crosses the line against civil law, as stoning for adultery would in Western countries.

    Having more Islamic legislators, or more Orthodox Jews or Born-Again Christians or devout Hindus in the legislature trying to enforce their beliefs on the rest of us is not the answer, however one small piece of a religious text may coincide with our views on a particular subject, in this case, adoption reform.

    This is the mistake of "one issue" voters, whatever the issue. One needs to look at the larger picture, not the one small area of agreement before endorsing the beliefs of any group.

  9. Got that right, D28 Bob! Fundamentalist Muslims, Christians, super-Orthodox Jews are all cut from the same intolerant Patriarchal cloth, and women are indeed second-class in all those faiths. Saying this as a Catholic who thinks the only way the Church will survive and clean up its act is with married and women priests:-)

    All these faiths also have more moderate and liberal components who are more content to live and let live and respect the beliefs of others, but extremists of any religion or political system are what breeds terrorists and bigots.

    Read Karen Armstrong's "The Battle For God" for a good overview of the problem of religious fundamentalism. All her books are excellent and very in-depth, including a history of Islam.

  10. Maryanne, we apparently come from similar perspectives; I was a cradle Catholic (literally -from St. Anthony's Home for Infants!) and was fortunate to attend a Catholic university during the refreshing post-Vatican II era. But I felt the Roman Church took a turn to the right a few decades ago and left me - I currently consider myself a recovering Catholic and am a happy Episcopalian...

  11. An important facet of Kafalah is that at the same time as it maintains the Kafalah child's filiation to his or her family of origin, it also preserves the purity of the male blood-line within the sponsoring family.
    Not entirely insignificant, I think.

    With regards to the international angle especially, I found this quite interesting:
    Even though the institution of kafalah is of growing interest to many receiving countries, its
    meaning, origin and the variety of its practices within the Muslim world remain quite unknown
    for most Western professionals. The information gathered by the International Reference Centre for the rights of children deprived of their family (a division of the International Social Service) is summarised in this fact sheet in order to give the reader some general ideas about this specific child protection measure, as recognised by article 20 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

    More at this link:


  12. Bob, I have very often considered becoming "a happy Episcopalian". That is the church I would join if I left the Catholic church. They have the Mass, the ritual and beauty, without some of the nasty baggage of the right-leaning Catholic church today. My kids were all raised Catholic, including the one I surrendered, and all are agnostics now. That's fine with me.

  13. I'd add Mormons to d28bob's list of religions who based their faith primarily on the old testament and teat women poorly.

  14. The origins of the prohibition against adoption in Islam can be found in the story of Muhammad's marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh, the divorced wife of Mohammed's adopted son Zayd.
    Before the prohibition Zayd was known as Zayd ibn Muhammad, and after, as Zayd Ibn Harithah.

    Here is another perspective on kafalah, as practiced in Syria:
    "Without a Home" by Muhammad Atef Fares

    Majdi, 21, lives alone in a small room in Rukn el-Din. On a recent afternoon, he recalled oneof his earliest memories, from about age six. It is of a woman telling him: "Keep quiet or I'll send you back to the orphanage."The woman was his foster mother. She and her husband brought him to live with them from Dar Zayd ibn Harithah in Masaken Barzeh, a home for abandoned children, and he stayed with the couple for four years. Though he was never mistreated, he always felt unwanted, he said. Dar Zayd paid the family to care for Majdi until his foster father died, at which time he returned to the centre. Abandoned children in Syria often end up like Majdi: in a precarious state of limbo, never fully part of a family. The law prohibits these children from being adopted, so they are raised in institutions or end up in impermanent foster care."

    Read the rest of the article at:




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