Canada bans adoption of Pakistani children

Map of Pakistan
Map of Pakistan (Photo credit: Omer Wazir)
Canada has stopped adoptions from Pakistan citing incompatibilities with the Islamic law over adoption and guardianship. 

A Greater Toronto Area resident Shafiq Rehman said he was “shocked and depressed” over the new policy to restrict adoptions from Pakistan, saying he and his wife, Rehmat Jahan were hoping to adopt a Pakistani child Shafiq and his wife started the adoption process in 2011. They received an approval letter in June 2013 from the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services confirming them as suitable candidates.

.However, on July 2 Ottawa announced that it had to stop accepting adoptions from Pakistan. The issue, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, is the Islamic practice of ‘kafala’ or guardianship which is common in most of the world’s 49 Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan. Many other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have raised no issue about ‘kafala’ and are still open to adoptions from Pakistan.

 Canada has, in some or all provinces, suspended adoptions from Cambodia, Georgia, Guatemala, Liberia, Nepal and Haiti for various reasons. However, Pakistan is the only country banned on the basis of ‘kafala’. Immigration spokesman Glenn Johnson said Canadian families seeking to adopt Pakistani children are required to obtain guardianship certificates from a Pakistani court and subsequently formalise an adoption in Canadian courts.

 “However, legal and procedural requirements to obtain a guardianship certificate under Pakistan’s Guardians and Wards Act do not allow for subsequent adoption in the guardian’s country of residence,” Johnson said. “Pakistan applies the Islamic system of ‘kafala’ which neither terminates the birth parent-child relationship nor grants full parental rights to the guardian. This means that there are further legal incompatibilities in accepting Canadian applications for adoption,” he said. 

Michael Blugerman, one of the three licensed adoption agents in Ontario specialising in Pakistani adoptions, said the sudden move has caught prospective adoptive parents off guard, some of whom were already halfway through the long process.

 “All kinds of families are trapped along the path,” he said. “The Immigration’s explanation is inaccurate and misleading,” said Blugerman, who has been an adoption agent for 33 years and handles about eight Pakistani cases a year. “Some of the parents have given up their jobs, or taken leave of absence to start the process abroad.

 It’s not the money but their emotional investment into the process,” he said. To qualify to adopt, a prospective parent must undergo a minimum 10-week home study during which the applicant is assessed by a Registered Adoption Practitioner for being a suitable candidate. The parent must complete a training course called PRIDE (Parental Resources for Information Development and Education) before the provincial children and youth services can issue an approval letter to a foreign adoption authority. - 

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