Since Islamic law does not recognise adoption, most couples perceive that adoption in Dubai is almost impossible. There are too many myths and misconceptions that make it sound like a never ending nightmare. However, things are not all gloom and doom. Several couples in Dubai have successfully adopted children. While it is true that Muslims cannot adopt a child in the UAE, it is perfectly legal for non-Muslim expatriate residents in Dubai to adopt a child from a country other than the UAE.
The entire process of adoption is purely based on the international adoption regulations set by the Hague convention and the Embassy of the expats home country. The adopting parents are required to undergo a process called Home Study, which is basically a psychological analysis and series of counselling sessions to assess the readiness of couples for adoption. The home study report, an NOC from the UAE Embassy, and a long list of documents as requested by the home country embassy, are the most important paperwork to have in place.
There are no government adoption agencies in Dubai or any other Emirate that mediate the process, which means individuals who want to adopt will have to go through the process on their own. However, there are some support groups in Dubai like the Adoption Support Group Dubai (ASG) that offers advice and guidance to expatriates wanting to adopt a child in Dubai. Synergy Integrated Medical Center and HRI Dubai offer home study counselling sessions for couples in Dubai.
Gerlinde Krupp, Founder & CEO of 4 Work Trading LLC, is an expat mom living in Dubai. Gerlinde has been through this process not once, but twice, while adopting her daughters from Ethiopia. We spoke to Gerlinde to find out about her experience of going through the adoption process as a resident of Dubai. She gave us some great insights into the entire process of adoption, and life after.
When it comes to adoption in Dubai, most people believe that it is either illegal or full of hassles. Did you also have such misconceptions before you went through this process yourself?
Yes, I did. I had no idea if it was possible, where to start or what to do. Usually, adoptions are not possible in an Islamic environment. In the Islamic world, children can only be fostered but not adopted, meaning that they will not be able to have the family or father’s name.
How did you initiate the process? Did you go through an agency?
I discovered the ASG (Adoption Support Group) in Dubai and I joined them. It is a group of volunteers that help each other through the adoption process. It was a very small group back then but I got some good tips from the people.
There are no agencies in the UAE that can help you. The UAE hasn’t signed the Hague Convention which most European countries have done. Therefore, we can only do private adoptions, meaning we have to do all the paper work ourselves and travel to the countries we want to adopt from. Well, it is great in the way that we are actually allowed to see our children when we get matched, and can be with them throughout the entire process.
What does the adoption process involve?
It involves preparing a dossier which consists of a home study (done by two medical institutions here in Dubai) and a set of documents required by the adoptive country. Lot of documents need to be legalised within the home country of the adoptive parents, and the UAE Embassy. All is achievable – it is just a lot of running around and knowing what needs to be done.
How long did it take to start to finish?
For our first child it took us all together eight months as I didn’t know exactly what to do. This is from the first counselling session right down to when our daughter arrived in Dubai. The second adoption was very fast as there is a lot of documentation that doesn’t need to be done again and also you know the steps inside out. I had the paperwork ready within two weeks, and three weeks later we were matched with our second daughter. Within a couple of months, she arrived in Dubai.
Are there any procedures/rules that need to be followed post adoption?
Yes, follow-up reports need to be sent to the orphanage and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in the respective country. In the first year it has to be after 3, 6 and 12 months. From the second year onwards, it is a yearly report until the children reach the age of 18.
What would be the adopted child’s nationality post adoption? Also how easy or difficult was it to sponsor their UAE residence Visa?
When you start the process you will have to obtain an NOC from the home country stating that you are entitled to adopt. This paper later on is required when applying for the child’s new Nationality. Each country supplies a different NOC, therefore, the adoptive parents will have to research this on their own. And each country again has a different procedure and time frame for giving an adopted child their nationality. The change of the name can be applied for during this process.
There are no difficulties in Dubai with a UAE residence visa for an adopted child. Abu Dhabi will no longer give adopted children a residence visa. Therefore, it depends on the origin of the sponsor’s visa.
Can you travel anywhere in the world with your adopted children without a hassle?
When the children are still on their original passport, i.e. Ethiopian, it is not that easy as you will have to apply for Schengen or other visas. But once they have their new passport/nationality, it is just the same as for the adoptive parents.
Do you feel an additional sense of responsibility as a parent because the children are adopted?
I treat my adopted children exactly the same way as if they would be my biological children. But I do suggest to them to travel back to their home country. Both my children were at the age of 3.5 years when we adopted them and they knew exactly what they went through. I try to keep them somehow attached and interested in their home country – but both of them have refused to speak their mother tongue from day 1 and are not the slightest interested in travelling back to Ethiopia. And we respect this. I have visited both of their families so I will be able to answer questions once they ask them. That has certainly helped me a lot.
I am very, very proud of both my girls, and I have never ever looked back. It was the best decision I ever took in my entire life. And I would like to encourage future adoptive parents to go on this amazing journey. It is definitely worth it.
Picture: Gerlinde Krupp and her two adopted daughters.