Adopting from Syria
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Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD's second term as president was approved by popular referendum. Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, antigovernment protests broke out in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011 with protesters calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials. Since then demonstrations and unrest have spread to nearly every city in Syria, but the size and intensity of protests have fluctuated over time. The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions - including the repeal of the Emergency Law and approving new laws permitting new political parties and liberalizing local and national elections - and force. However, the government's response has failed to meet opposition demands for ASAD to step down, and the government's ongoing security operations to quell unrest and widespread armed opposition activity have led to extended violent clashes between government forces and oppositionists. International pressure on the ASAD regime has intensified since late 2011, as the Arab League, EU, Turkey, and the United States have expanded economic sanctions against the regime. Lakhdar BRAHIMI, current Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, in October 2012 began meeting with regional heads of state to assist in brokering a cease-fire. In December 2012, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Unrest persisted in 2013, and the death toll among Syrian Government forces, opposition forces, and civilians has topped 100,000. In January 2014, the Syrian Opposition Coalition and Syrian regime began peace talks at the UN sponsored Geneva II conference.
Hague Convention Information
Syria is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
Below is the limited information the Department has on obtaining guardianship from Syria. U.S. citizens interested in obtaining guardianship for Syrian orphans should contact the adoption authority of Amman, Jordan to inquire about applicable laws and procedures.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending for the child to return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) rarely relinquish their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption. See contact information below.
The Department of State receives inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of children in war zones and in countries afflicted by natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Our office shares this concern for children in conflict areas, and we understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopt these children in need.
It can be extremely difficult in such circumstances to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption and immigration under U.S. laws. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members during a conflict or natural disaster, and their parents may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in dangerous situations for parents to send their children out of the area, for safety reasons, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Even when it can be demonstrated that a child’s parents have died, children are often taken in to be cared for by other relatives.
During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for intercountry adoption of both the United States and the child's country of origin. This is especially true when civil authority breaks down. It can be very difficult to gather documents necessary to establish the child meets the requirements of U.S. immigration law, so prospective adoptive parents may wish to consult with an experienced immigration attorney and take extra caution when considering adopting or caring for a child under these circumstances.
Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on traveling to Syria. Visit U.S. Embassy Amman’s website for information on consular services at Amman-IV@state.gov or ACSAmman@state.gov.
Intercountry Adoption, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State Country Information adoption.state.gov/country_information/country_specific_info.php?country-select=syria