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Thoughts on the Recent Moroccan Adoption Decree Thoughts on the Recent Moroccan Adoption Decree

Sofian, a little boy who captured my heart – I hope he was able to be united with his forever family.

Maybe you have seen the news of late that there was a ban placed by the Moroccan ministry of Justice and Liberties on adoptions from Morocco to those living outside of the country. There has been little news to further clarify or explain the position that has been taken aside from the initial circular. The decree does state that only those who have permanent residency in Morocco will be eligible to file for the kefala, similar to custodianship in the US system. The reasoning behind this has been stated as,  “the adoption judges are unable to overhaul the ability of adoptive parents to cater for the child’s needs according to the Islamic principles in the case of non residents parents.” Currently this means the judge must determine if the applicants are financially secure and takes into account age, moral integrity and health condition as well as overseeing the parents to maintain that this is being fulfilled.

I get it. I get what the intentions are behind this and frankly it doesn’t surprise me.  The Justice Ministry is headed up by Mustafa Ramid, a member of the PJD or Justice and Development party, the Islamist party who has the majority rule in Morocco’s government. It’s therefore no surprise that much of the precedence for this decree comes from the fact they believe children should not go to homes that are not Islamic. Morocco’s adoption regulations have long insisted that adopting parents be Muslim. I am not nieve enough, nor am I foolish to think that many parents wishing to adopt Moroccan children become Muslim in name only to placate the system.  But here’s the bottom line.

Moroccans aren’t adopting children.

There are between 5000-6000 children abandoned each year in Morocco, for various reasons.  Only half of those children are adopted, either in country or outside the country. There is a HUGE stigma attached to adoption in Morocco. Some people don’t feel that it’s Islamic under any circumstance to adopt someone else’s child.  Others “take in” children but especially when it comes to little girls, end up turning them into servants. Then there’s the tiny percentage that truly want to take in a child and give them a home. Previous to this decree there were only a few orphanages in Morocco that would allow children to be adopted to American or European families.  Although I’ve been unable to find evidence, it seems that priority was given to prospective parents (PAP’s) from Islamic nations. It’s equally as difficult to find any information about the total number of children that were actually adopted by Moroccans, living in Morocco. My best guess is that they are a minority of PAP’s.

I recently commented on a post by the Moroccan American Forum for Relief and Development;

It strikes me that so much of the weight of this argument is placed on a fear of child trafficking and even that some claim that no Moroccan wants to see this happen.  I would argue no person period wants to see this happen to any child.  That being said, the reason the majority of these children are placed up for adoption is because they were born to single mothers, or to couples who couldn’t afford to care for them.  That’s the real travesty.  The implementation of this decree won’t make any changes in society, it won’t shift attitudes or make these children accepted as a part of Moroccan society.

So what will this decree do?


Hurt Moroccan Children

Moroccan orphanages are chronically understaffed and underfunded.  Even the best private orphanages struggle to meet the needs of the children. At the orphanage we went to in Marrakech we were told that as soon as children are adopted there is another child to take their place. The degree of care varies by facility but most children, especially those who are still babies and toddlers spend a good portion of their day in their beds. The staff has everything they can do to meet the basic needs of their charges, let alone spend quality time, organize activities, or provide one-to-one affection and care. There are also many special needs children, who under previous circumstances faced an uphill battle to be adopted. I would argue this new decree makes their chance of finding a forever home, virtually impossible. There is so much stigma attached to adoption in general in Morocco, the adoption of a special needs child would truly take a remarkable family. Sadly, even this lacks a silver lining as Moroccan medical and educational infrastructure is not able to or prepared to handle special needs children. Their ability to survive and thrive is exponentially greater outside of Morocco.

There are so many questions that have not been answered.  Some of them include the fact that there is no provision or information offered to PAP’s who were already in the adoption process.  What about bi-national couples, such as my husband and myself? We live in the US but have Moroccan residency.  Would we be eligible to adopt? How does the ministry and the PJD in general propose to help create a life for these children who, without adoptive parents, will remain in orphanages until they age out? Do they intend to fund them better? Provide a foster care system? How exactly do these changes benefit the children?

To me, at the end of the day, this decree was political posturing that lacked any foresight.  The party has failed to truly realize what the best interest of these children are and instead take a “moral and religious” stand based on feelings instead of critically assessing the issue and making the best decision for Moroccan children.  Moroccan families are not banging down the doors to adopt orphans, and in many cases these children are a little secret that likes to be swept under the rug and forgotten.  I truly hope that the PJD leadership has time to reflect on the ramifications of their posturing and reconsider this decree to better serve the interests of the children they aim to protect.

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Amanda Mouttaki

Curious world traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie at heart, addicted to social media and lover of all things Moroccan.

  • Tammy

    April 30, 2014 #1 Author

    Amanda, I am not interested in adopting, but I read your story about being ill and your son being ill. I just wanted to tell you that I thought it was a very intelligent and honest article.


  • Lisa W

    June 4, 2013 #4 Author

    Hi everyone, I don’t know if people are still visiting this page. My husband is Moroccan (and still have family there) and I am American. We would like to adopt a child from Morocco, and his family there is able to help us, thing is I don’t know if the US side will approve us, and I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars only to be turned down.

    Has anyone who have a Moroccan spouse been able to adopt since Morocco put a ban on adoptions out of the country?


    • Amanda Mouttaki

      June 5, 2013 #5 Author

      From what I understand, mixed couples (one Moroccan, one not) are still allowed to adopt. There has been some conversation on this again recently, but overall this is still being enforced. I would expect that you likely may have issues but just processing adoption documents stateside can take a year or more before things are even ready to go overseas. You may be able to get some help from the US Dept of State, especially if you already have a specific child to be adopted (Find more here)


      • Lisa W

        May 5, 2014 #6 Author

        @ Amanda– thank you for your response. Since my original post, my husband and I did our homestudy and filed with USCIS, and got our approval a few weeks ago. Right now we are waiting to be matched with a girl. I read online that moroccan girls are harder to get/adopt and so far its proving to be true. So we plan to expand our search to an infant boy and perhaps adopt a girl later.


        • Amanda Mouttaki

          May 7, 2014 #7 Author

          Congratulations! It’s very hard to adopt girls, best of luck to you and your husband! I pray you’re able to adopt a little one and give him/her a good home!


    • asmaa

      August 3, 2014 #8 Author

      Hi I see that you started this process last year? I am moroccan residing in the USA and was wondering if you can share your story and progress with me



      • Amanda Mouttaki

        August 5, 2014 #9 Author

        Hi Asmaa- We actually didn’t try to adopt, we had considered it but have put it off for now until things are more clear.


  • Alice laqlalech

    November 18, 2012 #10 Author

    Really sad story here in scotland we only here about this in eastern european countries.its awful. God willing I hope that the goverment do something about not the kids fault and fostering and adoption options should be put in place for all these poor children another flaw in the system. Makes me sad scottish moroccan family


  • Elisa

    November 17, 2012 #11 Author

    Wow! This really breaks my heart. My husband and I were planning on adopting from Morocco next year. . .now I’m not sure that will happen :-(
    I’m a little confused on one thing. . .my husband is a Moroccan citizen with residency, but lives here in America. I’m an American citizen with NO ties to Morocco except for my husband. Do you know if we would still be able to adopt being that my husband has residency there, but doesn’t live there at this time? Maybe you addressed this in the article so please forgive me if you have. . .it’s late! LoL


    • marocmama

      November 18, 2012 #12 Author

      Hi Elisa – you’re in the same situation as my husband and I and frankly we don’t know what this means. There are rumors that adoptions might still be allowed but there hasn’t been anything official yet.


  • Laura @ Family Spice

    November 15, 2012 #13 Author

    I have several friends who adopted children outside of the US, like Armenia and China. One friend was able to successfully adopt in the US. The rules are horribly tough to “protect the kids” but it usually hurts the majority of the children. Horrible things happen and those who abuse children must have had some red flags if they were properly screened. This post just breaks my heart.


  • I’m so sorry to hear this. We adopted our daughter from Armenia six years ago and have heard that it’s much harder to do so now. Of course, I’m Armenian so it wouldn’t have been an issue, but it seems that more and more countries are closing their doors to the U.S. Remember how Russia did that after the little boy was abused and died in North Carolina? It’s a sad situation.


    • Moroccan4life

      December 31, 2012 #15 Author

      That is interesting you adopted from Armenia, do they allow non Armenians? Because your post makes it sound as though Armenians are prefered and I have met many people on Adoption boards that have adopted from Armenia and are not Armenian at all.
      As far as my country of Morocco goes, the reason the locals don’t adopt is because outside adoption agencies in the USA: Adopt Abroad, Hopscotch Adoptions and Across the World Adoptions have outbid $$ the locals out of the market. We cannot afford to pay $40,000 for in country facilitators or middlemen who do whatever with this money. Incidently, there are numerous French MOroccans like me who would like to adopt, now the Americans have ruined it once again for the rest of us.
      If you check the local fees for adoption it is only about $1,200 for filing fees, documentation, etc., Where is the rest of this money going?

      I am just glad the children are getting a home, if Americans want to act like they are converting to Islam to raise our children that is fine.

      But it does seem unfair to the child to steal their culture, birthright and homeland from them.


      • marocmama

        January 3, 2013 #16 Author

        I would have to disagree with you. There are many reasons Moroccans (and Muslims in general) don’t adopt and only a tiny % is due to costs involved. Some people might not adopt because of costs, but there are only a very few orphanages in Morocco that even allow adoption to the US or Europe. In a lot of cases the additional money goes to the orphanage who provides and provided care for the children. I really don’t think it’s fair to say Americans ruined the process.


      • marocmama

        January 3, 2013 #17 Author

        One more note – there are many people who do adopt children and do everything they can to retain the culture of the child. Most people who chose to adopt, spend time and energy selecting a country they want to adopt from. They don’t just want to erase their past.


  • Laura

    November 13, 2012 #18 Author



  • marocmama

    November 13, 2012 #19 Author

    It’s not been made clear whether someone living outside of Morocco (regardless of whether they have Moroccan citizenship or not) will be able to adopt. The claim is once the child is outside of Morocco the government wouldn’t be able to monitor their well being. Yes you may re-publish with a link to the original please!


  • A.F.

    November 13, 2012 #20 Author

    Is it true that the PJD is liberal as compared to, say the Muslim Brotherhood? My husband is from morocco and he say’s that.
    I have heard that if one of the parent’s (even if married to an American) is from morocco and a moroccan citizen (even if living in USA)can can do kefala. My friend is thinking of adopting a moroccan child and since her husband is a moroccan citizen, even tho’, the live in USA, can adopt, according to the moroccan Gov’t.

    Can I re-post this blog post? I will make sure to give u the credit.


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