Adopting a Child from Morocco FAQs

Things to know about Moroccan adoption

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Who are the children in need of adoption?

In Morocco, the children in need of kafala and adoption include healthy infants-age five to thirteen months, older children, children with special needs, and some siblings. There are more boys waiting to be adopted in Morocco than girls. Children come into care for a variety of reasons, but a primary reason is the relinquishment of an infant by a single mother. For a Moroccan child to be eligible for adoption, the court will have determined the child abandoned and legally free for kafala. Children are cared for in orphanages before placement into adoptive families.

Who is eligible to adopt from Morocco?

To be eligible to adopt from Morocco, families must be practicing Sunni Muslims who regularly attend mosque. Eligible families include married heterosexual couples (both spouses must be Sunni) and single women age 25 and older. See Adoption Requirements below for more information.

What is “kafala” in adoption?

Kafala is the Arabic term for sponsorship or guardianship. In kafala, the court legally delegates parental authority and the ‘adopting’ parents agree to support the child. Kafala preserves the heritage, identity, and lineage of a child while allowing the adoptive parents to love and care for the child throughout his or /her life. As part of kafala, the parents agree to raise the child as Sunni Muslim and maintain the child’s first name.

Because the court gives only kafala or guardianship of the child, the adoptive parents must finalize the child’s adoption after arrival in the United States. Depending on individual state guidelines, the finalization can usually be completed within the first six months after having returned to the U.S.  New Beginnings provides adoptive parents with necessary information to complete this step of the process. Once completed, the child will have automatic U.S. citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Families will, however, need to file the N-600 with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Information Services) to receive a Certificate of Citizenship.

How long does the process take?

The application and home study process are dependent on the prospective adoptive parents and the home study agency, but usually can be completed within 2 to 4 months. Approval of the I-600A (the approval of the adoptive parents by USCIS) can take 1-3 months during which time adoptive parents work with New Beginnings to complete the dossier (packet of documents that are sent to Morocco to facilitate the matching). From the receipt of the dossier in Morocco to the referral and travel, families wait 6-9 months. The final steps of the process happen in Morocco while the adoptive parent(s) are in the country, and can take 6-8 weeks.

What information is in the child referral?

The child referral generally includes one or more photographs of the child, videos as available, name, gender, and date of birth of the child. Also included are measurements and medical reports from the time the child has been in the care of the orphanage as well as a current developmental milestone assessment report NB will have received the original Arabic and translated version of the abandonment certificate and will provide that with any identifying information of the birth family redacted from the document. Birth weight of child and circumstances of the birth of the child are not typically available via the referral.

Can I get additional medical information?

Before travel and after the family has reviewed the referral, NB staff will follow up with the orphanage to ask additional questions or obtain additional information (as available) on your behalf. However, referrals are usually given to the family in a short window of time before the family needs to travel to Morocco and meet the child. A preliminary acceptance of the referral is allowed, and then once in-country, the family can arrange additional physical exams. Please note that many of the genetic tests and more sophisticated testing may not be available in Morocco.

How long will I be in Morocco?

Most families will take one trip to Morocco for 6 to 8 weeks. One spouse can return after the court has granted kafala—this is typically at the 3 -4 week mark. In the region of Tangier, it is possible for families to divide their stay into two trips, but is not recommended. While in Morocco, the New Beginnings Program Facilitator will arrange the itinerary and guide you through the in-country steps in the process.

When do I have custody of the child?

Upon your arrival in Morocco, within 2-4 days, you will appear 2-3 times in front of a judge to receive kafala guardianship. Once you receive the guardianship order, you can travel to the orphanage and receive your child. (You will be permitted to meet and visit the child before the issuance of guardianship.) From this point, your child will be in your custody. Before kafala issuance, you can visit the child as scheduled with the orphanage.

Who are the Morocco adoption requirements?

  • Age of Applicant: 25 years or older; Preference for the youngest spouse to be less than 40 and no more than a 12-year age difference between spouses.
  • Marital Status: Married couples and single women.
  • Age of child at placement: 5 months and older
  • Gender Preference: Both boys and girls; shorter wait times for families open to boys.
  • Family Composition: Must be practicing Sunni Muslim(s). Preference for childless families.
  • Income: Must be employed; financial security.
  • Parent Health: Excellent health without major medical concerns.
  • Parent Mental Health: Considered on a case-by-case basis; no severe conditions.
  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent education.
  • Prior Criminal History: Would consider minor offense older than five years; no drug offenses.
  • Length of Time: 12 to 18 months.
  • Adoption Service Area: In all U.S. states.
  • Exception Waivers: None stated.
  • Length of time in Morocco: 1 trip, 6 to 8 weeks.

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