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Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for ex-pats in the UAE to adopt. However, the adoption procedure in itself as such has to occur outside the UAE. The adoption procedures also require seeking consent from your embassy and further connecting with a licensed adoption centre in the country where you will be proceeding with the adoption. Any given jurisdiction would have a variety of legal procedures to be completed in order to allow for adoption. In addition, there is immense legal paperwork that is required to be completed, including the steps required to sponsor the residence visa of the child in the UAE.
Since ex-pat residents in the UAE cannot adopt a baby within the UAE, ex-pats generally look for adoption centres outside the UAE in countries in Asia, Africa etc. Essentially once the adoption procedures are completed in the chosen country, the ex-pats can then sponsor the adopted child and bring the child back to the UAE on their residence visa . Further, they would also be required to take the steps for providing their citizenship to the child as per the guidelines of the respective embassy.
One of the most internationally recognized adopting processes is the Hague convention mandates, which require the steps involving, sharing of all essential documents list, undergoing police check, and completing a twelve month’s home- study program that involves both psychological analyses, which has to be approved by a licensed psychologist and parental preparation. If all the checks match the requirements of the adoption centre, then the adoption centre essentially allows the adoption officially and confirms the successful adoption.
Sharia Law on Adoption:
The Sharia Law does not allow for complete legal adoption; instead, it allows for fosterage. This essentially means that that the parents cannot transfer the family name or surname to the adopted child. In practice, the UAE laws, instead allow for the parents to nominate the first name of the child and the court judge to nominate the surname. This procedure also exists due to many practical considerations, such as that the children who are adopted in the UAE under the Sharia law constitute the children who have been abandoned, which unfortunately is a reality today. For this reason, the actual factors or the surname of such children are not known, and hence the UAE laws allow for the surname of such children to be nominated by the judge. The UAE federal law does allow for such children to obtain UAE citizenship and the express provision of the said law states that ‘a child will be deemed abandoned in the UAE unless proved otherwise (Article 2(e) of the Federal Law 10 of 1975). The emirate of Abu Dhabi has recently issued a new model for support to Emirati families in the adoption process, especially involving peer-to-peer support groups and allowing for temporary guardianship of children as a transitional stage in the process.
The word adoption is derived from the Latin verb ‘adoptō (ad + optō)’, which means ‘to choose’. People who have gone through the legal process of adoption often describe it as time-consuming and hard, but at the same time highly rewarding. The legalities could often be cumbersome when dealing with different jurisdictions, and therefore is highly recommended that one chooses internationally licensed and ethical adoption centers to guide them.
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 expat 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.