Known as the cradle of civilization, Egypt is a beautiful country located in the northeastern tip of Africa. Rich in history, from the pyramids and pharaohs to Alexander the Great, modern-day Egypt declared independence in 1805 and finally exited the British empire following the 1952 revolution. According to a UNICEF statistic, roughly 1.7 million orphans live in modern day Egypt. But is it possible to complete an intercountry adoption from Egypt to the United States?
In order for adoption to take place, at least one prospective adoptive parent must be Egyptian. Parents must be at least 25 years old but less than 55 years of age. If there are any other children in the home, there may be no more than two, unless the additional child(ren) are self-sufficient. Only married couples are permitted to adopt, and there are no income requirements, except the ability to cover the basic needs of a child. Same-gender couples are not allowed to adopt.
Children placed for adoption have either been relinquished, or abandoned, and do not have extended relatives to take care of them. Children may be orphaned, born out of wedlock, lost, or abandoned by divorced parents. Children reside in orphanages all over Egypt, and the Ministry of Social Affairs oversees it.
It is important to note that Egypt’s 2014 constitution declares Egypt to be a country of the Shari’ah (Islamic) law; therefore, all legislation should follow these principles. This is particularly true for family court. In the Shari’ah law, adoption, as defined in the United States, is strictly forbidden. The importance of maintaining clear bloodlines is significant because they ensure patrimony and inheritance. As such, it is impossible to adopt a child who, per the terms in the United States, would be entitled to “all the rights and privileges as if they were born to them (the adoptive parents).”
Like many other Muslim countries, to work around the Shari’ah law, Egypt created a system of foster care. Interested families may apply to the Ministry of Social Affairs to foster a child. Fostering may mean supporting a child at a local orphanage or taking the child in to live with you long-term, with the understanding the child may never inherit from the foster parents.
From 1999-2017 a total of 24 intercountry adoptions, from Egypt to the United States, occurred. In 2017 only one adoption was completed.
Jennifer S. Jones is a writer, performer, storyteller and arts educator. She holds an MFA (Playwriting) from NYU Tisch. She has written numerous plays including the internationally renowned, award-winning Appearance of Life. Her amazing transracial transcultural family was created through adoption from China and India. She is passionate about the adoption community and talks about the ins and outs, ups and downs, joys and “is this really us?!” whenever she can. She writes about her experiences at www.letterstojack.com.