Friday, July 26, 2013

Morocco's Kafala Crisis Deepens

Morocco's new restrictive adoption laws are causing pain and suffering, not only for the children, but also to the parents waiting to give the children a family and a home.  To make matters worse the number of children awaiting adoption is increasing every day and many of the orphanages are struggling to cope

Monica Díaz first met her adopted son Abdallatif in an orphanage in Rabat when he was not even a month old, and now,  nearly two years on, new adoption laws in Morocco mean she hasn't been able to take him back home with her to the Spanish region of Catalonia.

"They've asked us to be patient, but it’s been nearly 22 months of suffering," she told Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

Monica, who is self-employed and used to pay Abdallatif regular visits in the early stages of the adoption, has now had to move to Rabat to ensure her son is not taken away from her.

Along with 50 other families, she is waiting for a signature on her son’s passport which will allow him to leave Morocco.

What was once a relatively straight-forward adoption procedure has been hindered by a change of government in the North African country.

Abdelilah Benkirane's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party, which has ruled since late 2011, introduced a new law which prevents non-residents from adopting Moroccan children.

"They don’t want to sign my son’s leaving permit," Maribel, a Basque woman who shares a flat with Mónica in Rabat, told La Vanguardia.

The more than 20 Spanish families living in Rabat who find themselves in the same “desperate situation” are in regular talks with the Spanish Embassy in Morocco to ensure the new law isn't applied retroactively.

"We're not going to abandon our children, as desperate as we may be," Maribel explains.

Adoptions in Morocco take the form of Kafala, by which the adoptive parent is seen more as a guardian and children keep their Muslim names to guarantee they don't forget their roots or religion.

In most cases Kafala is restricted to Muslims or converts to Islam.

Hopefully during this month of Ramadan, saner heads will prevail and Moroccan orphans can once again find homes and happiness.

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