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Adoption from countries at war or suffering a natural disaster

When a major natural disaster occurs, or a country is plunged into conflict, we are inundated with media images of wretched children and our heart reaches out to them.

 When we see images of children in distress it makes us realise that we can open our hearts and give these children a home. However, it is rarely possible to adopt the children who have survived war or natural disasters.

In the immediate aftermath of conflict or disaster, it is often difficult to ascertain if a child is truly an orphan. Families may have become separated in the confusion and it may take months and sometimes even years to search for parents and family members and establish if the child is truly alone.

 It is not ethical to place a child for adoption, unless it is clear that no parent able to care for that child, will be found.  

If it becomes clear that a child has no parent, good adoption practice requires that attempts be made to place the child with extended family, members of the community, or others in his/her birth country, in order to preserve his/her heritage.

During conflict and disaster a country's government may be in disarray and what resources are available may be deployed on life saving projects. Thus, the courts and other entities that could handle relinquishment and adoptions may not be functioning at all.

Even if a country manages to get its legal system functioning and to identify parentless children, it may not permit adoption, by law or custom. This is particularly true in countries that live by Sharia, Islamic law, eg Iraq which does not recognize adoption.

It is unfortunate, as it is evident that children caught in conflict may do better out of the country and in the security of a family, however one must have safeguards in place and counties in crises do not have the necessary safeguards in place to ensure right practice.


This article will give you an idea on how complex the situation is:



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