Adopting a Child from Morocco FAQs
Things to know about Moroccan adoption
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Children in Need of Adoption
In Morocco, the children in need of kafala and adoption include healthy infants-age five to eighteen months, older children (18 months and older), children with identified cognitive or physical needs, and sibling sets. Many more boys are waiting for adoption in Morocco than girls. Children come into care for various reasons, but a primary reason is the relinquishment of an infant by a single mother. For a Moroccan child to be eligible for kafala and adoption, the court will have determined the child abandoned and legally free for kafala. Prior to placement in adoptive families, these children are cared for in orphanages.
Religious Eligibility Requirements
Eligible families must be lifelong, practicing Sunni Muslims. All additional household members must also be Sunni Muslims.
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 child’s heritage and identity while allowing the adoptive parents to love and care for the child throughout their lives. As part of kafala, the parents agree to raise the child as Sunni Muslim and maintain their first name given to the child in Morocco. Because the court grants only kafala or guardianship of the child, the adoptive parents must finalize the adoption after arrival in the United States. Depending on individual state guidelines, the finalization can usually be done within the first six months after returning to the US. New Beginnings or the family’s home study agency provides adoptive parents with the necessary information to complete the adoption’s finalization. Once completed, the child will have automatic US citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Families will need to file the N-600 with USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Information Services) to receive a Certificate of Citizenship.
Length of Process
The application and home study process depend on the prospective adoptive parents and the home study agency, but it is typically completed within 4 months. Approval of the I-600A (permission by USCIS for the adoptive parents to immigrate a child) takes 3-5 months. While waiting for USCIS approval, adoptive parents work with New Beginnings to complete the dossier (the packet of documents sent to Morocco to facilitate the matching of the family with a child). From the dossier arriving in Morocco to the referral and travel, families wait an estimated 15-20 months. Families may have a shorter length of time if they are of Moroccan Heritage, speak Arabic, or are open to a waiting child. Families who are only open to being matched with a girl child should expect a longer waiting time. The final steps of the kafala process are completed in Morocco while the adoptive parent(s) are in the country. The trip typically takes 6-8 weeks.
The Child Referral
The child referral is the information the adoptive family receives about the child with whom they are matched. The referral usually includes one or more photographs of the child and video(s), name, gender, and birth date. Also included are measurements and medical reports from the time the child has been in the orphanage’s care, and a current developmental milestone assessment report. The original Arabic/French versions as well as the translations of the abandonment certificate and birth certificate are also included and may provide minimal identifying information about the birth family.
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 further information (as available) on your behalf. Referrals are usually given to the family to review in a short window of time before their required to travel to Morocco to meet the child. A preliminary acceptance of the referral is allowed prior to travel, and then once in-country, the family can choose to arrange additional physical exam prior to kafala. Please note that many genetic tests and more sophisticated testing may not be available in Morocco.
Trip to Morocco
Adoptive families take one trip to Morocco and stay for 6 to 8 weeks. While it is not recommended, if necessary, in two-parent families, one spouse can return to the U.S. after the court has granted kafala—this is typically at the 2-3 week mark after arrival in Morocco. While in Morocco, the New Beginnings’ local facilitator and/or the In-Country Coordinator guides you through the process and arranges the schedule required for kafala and the child’s visa.
Custody of the Child
Within days of arriving in Morocco, the family will have their initial appearance before the judge. There are typically 2 to 3 appearances before the kafala is issued. During this time, the adoptive parent(s) should schedule visits with the orphanage to see their child. Kafala and custody are typically received within 2-3 weeks of arriving in Morocco. Upon the issuance of kafala, the adoptive family receives custody of the child the next day. Kafala is a judicial process to be determined in Morocco. Families should be gracious and courteous to members of the court and workers at the orphanage.
- Age of Applicant: 25 – 49 years old; applicants 49 years to 55 must be open to a child over 3 years old. Those over 55 must be open to child 5 and older and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Marital Status: Single women and married couples with no more than 12 years age difference between spouses.
- Marital History: No more than one divorce in total for each spouse.
- Age of child at placement: 5 months and older.
- Family Composition: Preference is given to families who have no children. The maximum number of children in the home is one. Exceptions can be made for Moroccan or Arab heritage families or for families adopting a waiting child.
- Gender Preference: Gender preference is not permitted.
- Religion: Lifelong Sunni Muslim(s); all members of the household must be Sunni Muslim.
- Heritage: Shorter wait times and age waivers may be possible for adoptive parents of Moroccan or Arab descent.
- Income: Financial security.
- Parent Health: Excellent health without major medical concern.
- Parent Mental Health: Considered on a case-by-case basis; no severe conditions.
- Education: Minimum of a high school diploma.
- Prior Criminal History: Minor offense older than five years considered on a case-by-case basis; no drug offenses.
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