Adoption Resources in UAE
Bringing a new child into a family is always emotional.
But if you throw in the complexities of adoption into the mix, it can be very overwhelming for prospective parents - and especially for expatriates living in the UAE.
The common misconception for expats living here is that adoption is simply not possible - but the reality is far from it. In fact, expatriate residents in the UAE can adopt while living here as per the laws of their country/ies of citizenship, and that of the child's.
If you're thinking about adopting a child while living in Dubai and UAE, here's our complete guide with everything you need to know to help...
Is adoption illegal in the UAE?
Despite some beliefs, adoption is technically not illegal.
Emiratis and other Muslim residents living in the UAE cannot adopt a child, as adoption is not recognized in Islam. The UAE is a Muslim country, and thus Islamic law is in place here.
However, these individuals are permitted to raise, care for, sponsor or foster an abandoned child or orphan when done through licensed charitable organizations like the Emirates Red Crescent Authority. But the child must keep the family name of their biological father - and must not take the family name of their carers.
For expatriates, adoption is not illegal - but intended parents must not adopt from within the UAE. There are systems in place to allow expats to adopt a child from overseas.
Unmarried, cohabiting couples or individuals are not permitted to adopt under UAE law.
A guide to adoption in UAE
Adopting a child as an expatriate
As we've mentioned, adoption is available for expatriate resident couples, but only outside the UAE. Adoptions are not conducted within the UAE, but adoptions carried out abroad are accepted in the country. As a result, the conditions of adoption are subject to the national law of the adopting parent and to the national law of the adopted child.
When returning to the UAE, the adopted children will receive the same rights and protection as biological children. This is because adoption orders issued elsewhere can be recognized in the UAE if the child has the same name as the adoptive parents.
For instance, if adoption is conducted in the UK and the child's name is duly changed to the same surname as the adoptive parents, this adopted child can then come to the UAE and receive a residency sponsorship as their legal offspring and will be protected under the UAE law as their child. The UAE's laws will not differentiate between a biological child and an adopted child.
In unlikely circumstances, adoption cannot be pursued if the national law of both spouses prohibits it.
How to adopt a child when living in UAE
Before going ahead with the adoption process, prospective parents must contact their embassy to seek advice on adoption laws in their respective home countries, and to ensure that adoptive children can obtain citizenship.
From there, the first step is a home study program - all international adoptions require a home study. In Dubai, this is conducted by the Human Relations Institute and Clinics (HRIC) for instance. This is a comprehensive, psychological report that is approved and signed by a licensed psychologist to say that you have been "trained, checked and approved" as potential parents.
This process typically takes eight to ten weeks and consists of 'homework' and weekly therapy sessions, which are used to aid intended parents in preparing to raise an adoptive child. The main purpose of doing this is for the child, not the parents.
The steps in an adoption process for UAE expats
Please bear in mind that the following is a useful guide and that every case is different.
Complete the home study with the HRIC
Have a home assessment
Gather and submit paperwork, which should be certified by three countries
Contact an adoption facilitator in your chosen country
Wait to be matched to a baby/child
Fly out to meet the child, and complete further paperwork
Await court date and fly out to the child's birth country again
Apply for a visa and bring the child back to UAE
Apply to your country of origin for citizenship
Frequent reports back to the birth country on the development and wellbeing of your child up to 18 years old