Has anyone adopted a child from Pakistan? We are just starting out and would like to talk to someone who has navigated the process before. Some specific questions are, how long does it take, is it generally not successful, what obstacles we can expect, etc. I would appreciate any help greatly.
First off, Pakistan is a Muslim country. Islam does not define adoption the way Western countries do. Under Shaaria, Islamic law, adoption is something like foster parenting or guardianship in the U.S. The parental rights of the birthparents are NOT terminated, as they are in the West. The child retains the surname of the birthparents, as well as inheritance rights and so on, and may return to the birthparents if the birthparents' circumstances change and if it is deemed to be in the best interests of the child. The adoptive parents are expected to consult with the birthparents regarding the child's religious education, and other important matters.
Because there is no "full and final adoption", the way it is construed in the U.S. -- where there must be complete termination of the birthparents' rights and the full assumption of parental obligations by the adoptive family -- most Islamic countries do not allow adoption of a Muslim child by an American, and the USCIS cannot grant an adoption visa for a child to enter the U.S. unless the prospective parents were granted a full and final adoption overseas or unless the adoptive family was given a decree of guardianship that makes it clear that the child will have a full and final adoption in the U.S.
Pakistani law generally follows Shaaria. It states that Muslims may receive guardianship of Muslim children or children abandoned at a Muslim orphanage with no information about their birthparents' faith, and that Christians may receive guardianship of Christian children. People who are neither Christian nor Muslim cannot take guardianship of a child. There are very few Christian children available for adoption; many children in orphanages are not actually adoptable, but are housed there while their parents work through issues such as loss of a job, marital problems, or severe illness of a spouse.
While a decree of guardianship will be issued if a Muslim American wishes to adopt a Muslim child, or if a Christian American wishes to adopt a Christian child, and that decree is normally not acceptable to the USCIS, it has "occasionally" been possible to get the decree of guardianship from the Pakistani courts worded in such a way that the USCIS is willing to grant a visa. It is not all that common, however, and most of the people who bother to try are relatives in the U.S., trying to adopt a family member. Of course, the child must qualify as an "eligible orphan", must be under age 16, and must have valid paperwork, in addition to having an acceptable decree of guardianship.
In 2011, the latest year for which information is available, only 25 children were adopted from Pakistan by Americans. Most of these were probably relative adoption cases. Very few American agencies will even attempt to work with people trying to adopt from Pakistan, and if you go through an attorney, he/she needs to be one who is highly familiar with both U.S. immigration and adoption law and Pakistani adoption law. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which Americans have worked with unscrupulous agencies or facilitators and have lost thousands of dollars and been unable to bring home a Pakistani child.
My suggestion is that, if you are not hugely committed to Pakistan for one reason or another, you should choose another country -- preferably one that has a stable, ethical adoption program and one that does not have religious issues to complicate the process.
I would like to add to the above post. It is entirely possible to adopt from Pakistan.
True, it is a muslim country where adoption does not occur like in the western countries but guardianship is awarded and USCIS accepts the guardianship and grants visas.
However you have to be careful and choose a recognized orphanage. There are very few of those.
Also private adoption will have red flags. By private adoption, I mean adopting from a private person, hospital etc.
I am not too sure about relative adoption.
If you are Muslim, you can get guardianship of muslim child and if you are christian, you can adopt a christian child. Most of the adoptions are of infants and the child must fulfill the US definition of orphan to be considered eligible for visa.
To add to the above, Pakistan is considered "liberal" in terms of the ability of American Muslims to bring home Muslim children. In short, there aren't a lot of religious "tests" for the adoptive parents, and some guardianship decrees will meet USCIS requirements. Still, you really need to work with an experienced agency or attorney to make the adoption happen.
Other countries with legal systems based on Shaaria are often a lot more conservative. As an example, Saudi Arabia will generally NOT allow American Muslims to adopt Muslim children. There is a perception that American society is so corrupt that even a devout Muslim family will have trouble raising a child to be a practicing Muslim. There is also a perception that American Muslim clerics are too liberal and that conversions to Islam by American Muslim clerics cannot be viewed as valid.
Recently, there have been a lot of discussions of adoption from Morocco, another historically "liberal" Muslim country. Be VERY cautious with regard to adoption from that country, especially if you were not born to a Muslim family. There are unscrupulous facilitators who have advised non-Muslims that they can do a sham conversion in Morocco very easily, simply by affirming belief in one God, Allah, and in Mohammed as His prophet. These facilitators say that, having gone through a sham conversion, Americans can get custody of a child and bring him/her home.
People should never try to adopt by committing fraud or unethical acts. Pretending to be Muslim in order to acquire a child is an outrage to Islam, and could easily cause the Moroccan government to ban adoptions by Americans. And the USCIS could easily decide, if they suspected that the clients of certain agencies or facilitators were obtaining decrees of guardianship under false pretenses, that the children of such families will be denied adoption visas.
Adoption from most Islamic countries is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Pakistan is in the "extremely difficult" column; it is possible to adopt from Pakistan, but it won't be easy.
First off, most Islamic countries insist that only Muslims can adopt Muslim children. That's understandable. If a person believes strongly in a religion, he/she will want his/her children raised in that religion, if at all possible.
If you are not Muslim, and a country has very few non-Muslim children, you will not be able to adopt there. And in some countries, even if you ARE Muslim, you will be turned down because the authorities do not consider the U.S. or other Western countries good places to raise a religiously observant Muslim child. There are too many temptations, and the Western Muslim clerics are not strict enough, they say. Saudi Arabia is one country from which Americans cannot adopt, even if they are Muslim, for these reasons.
Also, if a country's legal system is based on Shaaria, or Islamic law, its concept of adoption differs completely from that with which you are familiar. Under Islamic law, adoption does NOT terminate the rights and responsibilities of the birthparents, and the adoptive parents do not acquire the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.
The child keeps his/her surname, inheritance rights, and so on. Where feasible, the adoptive family is supposed to consult with the birthparents on important matters, such as the child's religious education. And if the birthparents' situation changes, and it's determined to be in the best interests of the child, he/she may return to the birthparents. In short, Islamic adoption is more like guardianship or foster care.
Muslims feel strongly that this type of adoption is more humane than the Western type. Children don't have to search for their birthparents. Birthparents don't have to grieve their losses. And so on.
For Americans, however, this definition of adoption often makes it almost impossible to adopt. U.S. adoption and immigration laws are based on the Western concept of adoption, not Shaaria's concept.
As an example, the USCIS will not issue an adoption visa to a child unless either:
a) The birthparents' rights are terminated and a final decree of adoption has been issued by the foreign government to the prospective parents; or
b) The birthparents' rights are terminated and the foreign government has given the prospective parents a decree of guardianship, allowing them to obtain a full and final adoption of the child in the U.S. The American adoption agency is often charged with making sure that the adoption actually occurs.
That requirement can be a deal killer in many Islamic countries, even when American Muslims are trying to adopt a relative's child. If Shaaria's concept of adoption is part of the code of law, the country cannot issue a final decree of adoption in the Western sense. And the authorities may word a decree of guardianship in a way that makes it clear that a Western style adoption will occur once the child is in the U.S.
Now, there are certain Muslim countries -- and Pakistan is one -- that are considered relatively liberal. While they won't allow adoptions of Muslim children by non-Muslims, they will allow adoptions of children who are known to be non-Muslim by non-Muslims. They will also allow adoptions of Muslim children by American Muslims. And they have worked with the USCIS to come up with a decree of guardianship, in some cases, that will satisfy both the Pakistani authorities and the American government and allow a Muslim or non-Muslim child to immigrate.
Your best bet is to find a U.S. agency that has successfully arranged adoptions from Pakistan and navigated USCIS hurdles. That agency can advise you of specific Pakistani requirements. There is a good overview of the process of adopting from Pakistan, a non-Hague country, at PAKISTAN | Intercountry Adoption.
Last update on May 14, 2:30 pm by Miriam Gwilliam.
Hi there,
I have adopted two baby girls from Pakistan, I live in Australia, Please do reply to this post, if you want to know further more.
Hi! My sister lives in Australia and she would like to adopt a girl from Pakistan. Please tell us of any information you know as we are really confused about the whole process. Waiting for your reply.
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Hi there,
I have adopted two baby girls from Pakistan, I live in Australia, Please do reply to this post, if you want to know further more.
Hi there, can you please give me insight? I want to adopt a child from Pakistan. I want to know the process. Thank you. I am from Australia.
Hi there,
I have adopted two baby girls from Pakistan, I live in Australia, Please do reply to this post, if you want to know further more.
Dear Bhatti,
I am interested in adoption from Pakistan and therefore, interested in collecting initial information. I came across your post here and found out that you have successfully adopted from Pakistan.
I am also located in Australia and would appreciate your guidance in this matter, if possible?
I can be contacted directly at
I await your reply.
Atif Dost
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Hi there, can you please give me insight? I want to adopt a child from Pakistan. I want to know the process. Thank you. I am from Australia.
Hellw sister please tell me any information you know fot adoptation for Pakistan.i live in Australia
Hi Bhatti I am looking for adoption from Pakistan can you share the information on
Thank you so much