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July 13, 2022
Adoption is not specifically recognized under UAE Laws. However, Federal Law No. 1/2012 Concerning the Custody of Children of Unknown Parentage (Custody Law) and Federal Law No. 3/2016 On Child's Rights (Wadeema's Law) provide protection and care for children of unknown parentage in the UAE.
What Do the UAE Laws Say About Adoption?
According to Article 24 of Wadeema’s Law, a child who is deprived of his natural family either temporarily or permanently has the right to alternate care through a foster family or a private/public social welfare institution in the event of unavailability of a foster family.
The Custody Law aims to organize care for children whose parents are not known by establishing care homes and organizing custodial families who would provide health, psychological, social and educational care for them.
What are Care Homes and Foster Families?
Care Homes: According to the Custody Law, a child of unknown parentage is referred to a care home by the public prosecution. These care homes are created by the Ministry of Social Affairs under Article 5 of the Custody Law, to take care of the children of unknown parentage and provide comprehensive care including living necessities such as food, clothing and housing, social, health and psychological care, educational opportunities, developing creative, artistic and intellectual abilities, integration with other children at sports, cultural clubs and camps, amongst other things.
The care home should also inculcate noble values in the children and strengthen the national identity and build a sense of belonging in the country. The care homes will choose a full name for the child and register the child in the official papers under Article 3 of the Custody Law.
There may be some conditions for accepting a child of unknown parentage into a care home. These conditions have been set out in Article 9 of the Ministerial Decision No. 368 of 2014 On the Implementing Regulation of Federal Law No 1/2012 on Children of Unknown Kinship and include, amongst others, that a child must be of unknown parents, must be born on the territory of the State, and must have no infectious diseases.
Custodial Families: If a family wishes to adopt a child of unknown parentage, an application would have to be filed with the Ministry under Article 9 of the Custody Law. The custodian family would have to satisfy certain conditions to be eligible to take care of a child.
Article 10 of the Custody Law sets out these conditions which require the custodian family to be:
A female Muslim Emirati, residing in the UAE and being at least 30 years old, could be given custody of a child of unknown parentage if she is single, divorced, widowed or her husband has been missing for a long time, under Article 11 of the Custody Law. However, she must be financially capable of supporting the child.
The above provides a broad outlook on the concept and process of custody of abandoned children in the UAE. If you are intending to adopt a child, make sure you assess all the possibilities and outcomes and proceed in the right direction.
The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.