Moroccan adoptions suspended

This is quite old news, but I thought I’d put it on here for those who don’t know.  The Moroccan government has put a moratorium on non-Moroccan citizens and residents from adopting Moroccan children.  If you are a citizen or have residency permit to live in the country, you may adopt, regardless of nationality or religion.

This is just one of the many articles that has more information online: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/rights/morocco-limits-international-adoptions

I hope and pray that this gets reversed very soon.

 

Building Familial Bonds through Milk

I came across this article from the Spoon Foundation.  The author, also an adoptive mother and Muslim, shares how family bonds are built through breast milk.

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source: http://adoptionnutrition.org/nutrition-profile-6/

When I was asked to write this piece, it was just before Ramadan – the annual rite that calls on Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset for one lunar month (this year falling in August) and one of the main tenants of Islam. It gives families an occasion to think about those less fortunate who are not able to fill their bellies each day and to give charity where one would have spent money on food and drink during the day. It is also a time to bring the family together in the evening for reflection and to share a meal together. It reminded me that as with all adoptive families, we had some issues of feeding when bringing our children home. For example the second, who was older at 12 months, did not like the texture of solids and had to be coaxed to be weaned from bottle feeding. Indeed we went so far as to seek out an early intervention evaluation and had a visit to our home for observation through games and play (but then she began to eat on her own before the first actual therapy session!) However the point of this piece is the very unique challenges of adopting and feeding in the Islamic context where milk relations are equivalent to blood relations so offering breastmilk is highly encouraged when introducing a new member into the family. Indeed the Arabic word for “adoption” is kafalah (literally sponsorship) which comes from the root word “to feed.”

Historically and culturally, milk bonding relationships were very common in the Muslim world and extended family or neighbors would share in suckling children of the same age. This would ensure that a child should evermore have a family to care for them within the wider community if their birth family were unable for whatever reason. Children suckled by the same wet nurse or mother also have a special social relationship such as that they become unmarriageable to one another. In essence it creates a biological relationship although not necessarily maintenance and inheritance rights. However for adoption specifically and to ensure a family’s commitment over the long term and to address potential abuse of the lack of automatic rights, in 2007 it was reported that the General Director of Women’s Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs in Saudi Arabia went so far as to offer special stipends to women to breastfeed adopted children “to ensure their legal position in the family.”

Islamic law covers all aspects of life, from matters of state, like governance and foreign affairs to issues of daily living. There are several legal schools within the Islamic law tradition that dates back 1500 years and on this topic specifically, there are some different interpretations on how many feedings are needed to establish a family relationship through feeding; five to ten times is the average (and milk can be pumped and fed in a bottle and still qualify for most if the baby can not latch properly). The majority of the legal schools also require that the child be under a certain age, usually two years. Yet one record shows that the Prophet Mohamed (himself an orphan) allowed feeding to be done for older children within the community.

Our first child, a boy, was adopted from Morocco at 6 months of age. At the time I visited a lactation specialist in the US but it was only with the taking of domperidome (which I had to procure from a Canadian pharmacy, none being available locally) and fenugreek and with pumping was I able to stimulate breastmilk. I embarked on this fairly arduous task less to ensure his position in our family, but so that later in life I would not need to wear a head covering in front of him or observe some of the other gender protocols that could come into play when he would reach maturity. Having gone through the experience the first time we knew what to do when his sister came along so that she in turn would not need to veil in front of her father or brother either. Additionally now that the children were now milk bonded, it has made them true siblings (and that you cannot deny if you see how much they fight!) and ineligible to become marriage partners down the road. So the decision to breastfeed in our family was more than just a nutritional good start but laid the groundwork for their cultural and religious upbringing.

The duty to care for orphans is a significant theme in the Quran (the holy book in Islam) and the Prophet is often quoted as saying “I and the sponsor of an orphan will be like this in Paradise” (holding two fingers close together). Since the practice of adoption is just slowly starting to come back as a socially recognizable practice within the Muslim world (with the rates of abandoned children seemingly increasing due to many social problems coming with modernity as well as poverty and conflict), certainly the unique challenges and pleasures of feeding will also come more to the forefront.

Christina Tobias-Nahi
Director of Orphan Nutrition
Joint Council on International Children’s Services

The BabyMaghrib family keeps growing!

I just received an email with 2 beautiful photos. The first is of a little girl with a wonderful head of brown hair and big curious eyes sitting in a bouncy seat. The second is of her swimming for the first time with her father and big sister. The 3 of them had HUGE smiles on their faces, MashaAllah. It melted my heart to see who the photos were from…RZ…one of the families who used this blog to gather information on how to get in touch and ultimately adopt the beautiful little girl in the photos from La Creche in Tangier, Morocco. I had the opportunity to speak with RZ a few times before she traveled to Morocco and I’m so delighted that everything worked out for her and her family.

Congratulations RZ! Wishing you a lifetime of health, happiness, and love!!

US Adoption Finalized. WOW!!!

Farhan, Ayoub and I were in a car in Virginia when we got the news that Ayoub’s US adoption was finalized, signed, stamped and sealed by a judge here in our little town in VA. Alhamdulillah! The finalization also means that Ayoub is now a US citizen. It was a unique independence day of sorts for our little family. I was hoping that it would happen around July 4th and it did!

We had actually forgotten about the fact that we were waiting to hear something from the lawyer. This process is a far cry from the Moroccan one where we were literally holding our breath until the adoption was complete. Ayoub and I went to the lawyer’s office to pick up the paperwork and of course I started crying when it was handed to me! There was a typo on the final order but it can be easily corrected (some info was incorrect). No big deal–the judge signed the paper and that was the most important thing!

This has been a long time coming and it feels fantastic to be able to check this off our steps list. WOW! Wow! Wow!

People have said in the past that these legal hurdles are no big deal and that once you lay eyes on your baby, he is yours in your heart. I absolutely agree. At this point it doesn’t even feel like Ayoub was adopted. He IS ours and one of the best things that has happened to me and us. However, this is part of the process and we are making progress and it feels great. It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of raising a child but it’s also important to stop and remember how precious this child is and how hard we worked to have him in our family. This is a quiet reminder.

As I was rocking him to sleep I just gazed at his lovely face and thanked God for the opportunity to be his Mama. Alhamdulillah.

Heading to the US!

Well, hello again!  It’s been about a month since my last post and so much has happend!  We’ve managed to get Ayoub’s Moroccan passport, US visa, left Morocco (finally!) and have been in Doha for about 3 weeks now.  I haven’t had time to post those experiences yet, but they are on the way.

What I’m REALLY excited about is the fact that we’re heading to the US tomorrow!  Yep, FINALLY heading home and look forward to seeing all of our wonderful friends and family who will be waiting to meet us at the airport.  We are as excited as they are and we know how incredibly lucky we are to have them in our lives.

First things first: we’ll start Ayoub’s US adoption process on Monday with appointments with the adoption attorney and social worker.

But one thing before that: maklooba and a 10 hour nap!  My dear friend who is now bestowed with the title “Mama Nada” asked how she could help me while I was in Tangier.  I told her the first thing I want after I arrive is her maklooba and to sleep for 10 hours straight.  And that’s what I’ll do on Saturday!  All of my girl friends are getting together, we’ll have dinner, I’ll then hand them the baby and go off to my long anticipated date in la-la land. (Seriously, I bet we’ll talk the whole night and have fun playing with Ayoubi!)

Until then, I must get back to packing!

PS:  to those who have asked for advice and guidance about the process, I apologize for the delay.  I’ll have some free time during my trip and will get answers to you soon.  Hang tight!

The Baby Maghrib family is growing!

A few people came across our blog and got in touch to get more info about adopting in Morocco.  I’m happy to say that 3 families are pursuing adoption in Morocco and one of those families even visited us and La Creche here in Tangier a week ago!

If you’re interested in adopting in Morocco (at La Creche in Tangier or in Meknes) I’d be happy to put you in touch with the people who can help you get started.

Ayoub’s first day in court

Today we were meant to receive Ayoub’s ‘permission to travel’ document which would allow us to apply for his passport.  I met Mrs. Haddad at 9 and we went to the courthouse together.  I didn’t realize we’d actually be in a courtroom in front of a judge!  MashaAllah, Ayoub was soo good and only made a few cute coos.  A few documents were missing from our file and I think the judge was a little annoyed at that!  I just stood beside Mrs. Haddad holding Ayoub with a big, nervous smile on my face that just shouted “please give us our permission so we can apply for the passport”!  In the end, permission was granted, but a junior judge needed to write the letter.  His secretary is swamped and wasn’t too keen on getting to the letter today.  If we can get the letter by 4pm today, we can still apply for the passport.  If not, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

I’m also waiting for documents from Mrs. Haddad so that I can travel to the Qatari embassy in Rabat to have them notarized.  I’ll then send them to Farhan in Qatar and he will apply for Ayoub’s Qatari visa.

I think I’m going to just stop planning!  As much as I love to be organized, it’s so disappointing when things don’t go as planned.  I have an idea of what needs to be done so I’ll just figure things out when I actually need to.

Lots of waiting, hoping, patience, and praying!