Today.com recently posted an article titled How to Adopt Afghan Refugee Children. Not surprisingly, the piece was widely shared on social media, with many commenters offering to “step up” to adopt these children. While the impulse to “rescue” children in need comes from a good place, it is misguided in this situation.
The Goal Should Be Reunification
In the aftermath of a disaster, such as a civil war or military take-over, it is not uncommon for children to accidentally be separated from their families. The only goal at this time should be to help reunite these separated families. If it is determined that a child has lost both parents, the best practice in child welfare is to make an effort to find members of the extended family or community to adopt or raise the orphaned child.
We received the following comment from a member of the CreatingaFamily.org online support community:
I’m tangentially involved in helping evacuate people from Afghanistan, and I have to say, the number of adoption inquiries I’ve seen has been utterly demoralizing. People are emailing and posting on social media: “There’s an abandoned refugee child at the airport. How can I adopt him? I know adoption is usually a long process, but under the circumstances, how do I get this child to America?” — which sounds great on a surface level, right? But the translation is “There’s a kid here who got separated from his parents in the crowd, and rather than trying to reunite them, I am so entitled that my very first reaction is that I should have the right to take him home like a lost kitten without even being vetted to see if I’m qualified to be an adoptive parent.” And we’re also seeing messages like “PLEASE HELP my five-year-old son got lost in the crowd and doesn’t speak English WE ARE DESPERATE,” just to really drive the point home.
Adoptions, as we know them, may never be an option for children from Afghanistan. Islamic Shari’a Law does not allow for U.S.-style adoption. Accordingly, it may not be possible for U.S. citizens to adopt a child who is orphaned overseas and obtain an immigrant visa that will allow the child to live in the United States. Some countries in which Shari’a law is observed do allow custody of children to be transferred through guardianship, but it seems unlikely at this time that a Taliban-controlled Afghan government would allow U.S. citizens to do this. Even if allowed, it is usually a long and arduous process that begins with training prospective parents on the impact of trauma.
We Cannot Encourage the Unscrupulous
A rush to adopt in the aftermaths of a national disaster or war also opens the door to unscrupulous actors taking advantage of children and those who want to “rescue” them. As the member of our online support community says:
Even if it were easy to adopt a refugee child during a national crisis, and even if Afghanistan’s laws permitted it, by swooping in now, we’d be encouraging unscrupulous actors to meet the sudden demand for adoptable children by… providing “adoptable children.” The motives of potential adoptive parents may be pure, but the impact can be gruesome, because there’s A LOT of money to be made out there and not everyone is an angel. In short: Please gently discourage anyone you hear talking about adopting a “refugee child” just now. There are other, better ways to support these children and their families.
We understand the desire to help children in need. Humans are geared to care, which is wonderful but not appropriate for the children we see in the sad pictures from Afghanistan.
There IS Something You CAN Do.
If you feel a tug on your heart, please consider becoming a foster parent for the approximately 500,000 children in the U.S. who need homes. The recent CreatingaFamily.org podcast on How To Become a Foster Parent will guide you on your first steps.
Additionally, many reputable organizations are doing excellent refugee care work that would benefit from your charitable donations. It won’t be difficult to find one that fits your worldview and family values.
*edited to add: These news articles below contain lists of organizations that are mobilizing to serve the Afghan refugee families and children who make it to the US. Inclusion in this list of resources does NOT equal endorsement of the news organization or the organizations mentioned in their articles. Each reader should do his/her own research to find a means of supporting that fits your and your family’s values.
- From NPR – Waves Of Afghan Refugees Are Arriving In The U.S. Here’s Some Help They Can Expect
- From CBSNews – How to help Afghan refugees: 3 organizations providing housing, transportation and other necessities
- From The NY Times – How to Help Afghan Refugees and the Relief Effort
- From the UNHCR-USA – Afghanistan
Image Credits: DVIDSHUB; CW8647
Add Your Comment
It’s 3:43 am in Afghanistan searching to see how I can help the kids I raised for more than 12 years. As an Afghan American since August 2021 I am stuck in Afghanistan with these kids going place to place. These kids only know me as their mother. I stayed back to be with them. I tried everything to leave the country trough airport gate but I failed it’s wasn’t easy and I am still in Afghanistan. I can’t go taliban for help that I am American and these are my kids as soon as they find out they will take the girls from me, and I will not let that happen even they want to kill me but I won’t let my girls in their hand. I emailed State Department so many times they said we can’t help, different organizations are keep making money of us from donors but we are not getting help. Here I am still in Afghanistan in danger while my previous job was with US DOD. It’s been a hard journey but no human or mother will leave their kids behind yes they were not born from me but I am the mother they know and I know them as my own kids. I sacrificed my life as human to help. I have my own kids living in US they also need me, I am stuck between kids in Afghanistan and US. I don’t know what to do where to go who to ask for help. Should I go to taliban that I am American, American won’t help me but please help me, but I am scared I will lose them and I don’t what will happen to them I am stuck. American left me alone to this. Looking for every possible why to get them out of here even I go to neighboring country like PK I will be stuck there and who should I leave the kids too if I leave for US. Please God help me find me away because US government where I lived must of my life and the only home I know won’t help me and I am stuck here
What is your advice
We are so sorry for your plight. We are not legal experts and cannot offer legal advice. You or your family here in the States should seek the support and advice of an immigration attorney who has experience working with Afghani cases. Our thoughts are with you and those children.
Typical anti west rhetoric. Don’t adopt the foreigner it’s cruel to subject your culture on them. Just throw money at them and you can fix the problem! 🙃
Nope. Not rhetoric at all. It’s a matter of Afghani and international law.
Are you kidding. Are you aware of the situation. Children are being sold by their own parents due to the crisis and to who knows who. Little girls are being sold and abused. Girls and women especially are not allowed to go anywhere. Babies are starving and leading to slow difficult deaths. Your article is unacceptable. You claim due to the current law that exists there just don’t bother. People are asking. People care. People want to help. People are trying and they should NEVER stop or ever give up doing so. KEEP asking people and Bless you for doing so. Realize this article should be removed and don’t be insulted or defensive. You can clearly see in the comments the kind of feedback it’s getting and awareness it needs. Accept that and do the right thing. Write to help the children instead. If anything use your time to write to the government for the ones who have no mothers since they died so they don’t have to suffer as they are.
We are absolutely NOT saying “don’t bother.” We ARE saying that due to the international laws that are in place, there are OTHER ways in which American families can serve and support Afghan families — to survive and to stay together whenever and where ever possible. We have provided several resources that list organizations that are doing GOOD, legal, and safe work there in that country, as well as encouraging readers to find refugee care in their own area to serve those who have been able to flee. We stand by international law as it currently is written.
The article is about Afghan orphans, yet the picture is of an African child.
Thanks for pointing that out. We’ve remedied the second picture and its credits.
This author is projecting his insecurities on people who want to help orphaned Afghan children.
Nope. The author gained her information from the State Department’s websites. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Intercountry-Adoption-Country-Information/Afghanistan.html
Right?! The overall tone is very discouraging. The REALITY is most Islamic countries don’t agree with children being adopted by non-Muslim families due to the child most likely being brought up under the beliefs of the adoptive parents. The author should make it clear that their intended audience are non-Muslim Americans looking to adopt from Afghanistan. Prospective adoptive parents who share ethnic backgrounds don’t have as many roadblocks adopting from other Islamic countries as otherwise described in this tone-deaf and misinformed article. The author should have just focused on why it’s important to understand the perspective of where these children are coming from and the struggles their families are facing, by spreading YOUR opinion about how people’s desire to help is “translated” in YOUR mind comes out extremely selfish and highly uneducated.
Sadly, this information is not opinion nor uninformed. In times of war, unrest, natural disasters, and the like, intercountry adoption is not permitted.
More details can be found at the Department of State’s resource page on Afghanistan Intercountry Adoption.
I think children will be better off in the United State I will it was something I can do I will love to give them a nice home with plenty of love and food it beaks my heart I cry some time for this
Brothers and sisters…
Let’s help orphans and needy people in Indonesia with us.
8 and 9 year old girls are being sold in Afghan and this article has the nerve to criticize. It should allow loving families to offer another option rather than selling their child to old men.
This article is not a criticism nor is it an option the typical family here in the US can even consider. Again, we point you and other readers to the law of the land in Afghanistan: “Islamic Shari’a Law does not allow for U.S.-style adoption. Accordingly, it may not be possible for U.S. citizens to adopt a child who is orphaned overseas and obtain an immigrant visa that will allow the child to live in the United States.”
We are aware of the horrors of child trafficking around the world – NOT just girls and NOT just to old men. It is an insidious, horrific practice and there are MANY organizations to which you can contribute if that is the primary concern you have. We encourage all of our readers to find an organization that matches your value system and donate generously to them now and for years to come when the impacts of this crisis will still rage on.
Why can’t something be done to get these children in the USA so we can adopt those babies? The USA can make it possible. US children need adopting but the children over seas need MOREHELP!
We certainly share your concern for the immediate safety of the many children in crisis in Afghanistan. However, given that the many reasons that many of them are not eligible for immigration or adoption (religious law, national law, international law, Hague Convention policy, among them), it’s not really ONLY up to the US State Department to bring these children to the US for adoption. Many of them are not even legally orphaned (according to the Hague Convention definitions). There are so many factors at play that make “just adopt them out to the US” an impossibility.
You are a disgusting person and very close-minded. Why should I adopt children in the US who’s parents are drug addicts? I don’t give a damn about children in first-world countries. Maybe the US shouldn’t be invading Afghanistan and making children orphans. Typical racist white woman who hates muslims and wants them dead. Shame on you!
There’s nothing disgusting about respecting and abiding by another nation’s laws and cultural norms.
As to your question about adopting kids “who’s parents are drug addicts” or “children in first-world countries,” we’d suggest that maybe you shouldn’t consider adoption of any child at all. You see, adoption of any child anywhere requires an open-minded, open-hearted perspective that is committed to learning, growing, and preparing well to meet the needs of the children being adopted. NO child, here in the US or in any other country is more worthy than another to be in a loving, safe, permanent home and family to call their own.
CreatingaFamily.org believes that ALL children are precious and that ALL children deserve a loving, safe, and prepared home. You see, that is why we exist — to teach parents HOW to be prepared and safe for any child they choose to bring home. Further, we are committed to making sure that the laws of the lands from which they come — here or in Afghanistan – are followed and respected. THAT’s what this post is about. And we feel no shame in advocating for alternative methods of supporting & caring for Afghanistan’s children who may or may not be legal orphans.
You did very well in responding to an incredibly inflammatory email. I’m Australian and my particular concern is girls not being allowed to obtain schooling past primary level. I have long wanted to adopt a girl from Afghanistan.
Thank you. I wish you well in finding an educational-focused org that will allow you to invest in those girls who are still living in Afghanistan. There are many orgs doing very good work in the country and with families who have sought political asylum here in the States so there are many to choose from!
I am a US mother and I care about ALL children. The children over here are safe and I believe we should easily should easily be able to adopt children from over seas ESPECIALLY in these circumstances. God bless and prayers sent to the families. Know that good people in the USA want to help your children.
There are many reputable organizations that are doing good work in Afghanistan to support children and families. You might consider one of them listed at the end of this article — or searching up one that suits your family values. Additionally, there are MANY orgs here in the States that are working hard on the resettlement effort for those families who HAVE immigrated to the States for political asylum. They are all in need of finances, practical resources, and safe families to care for the refugee families that need safe lodging, etc.
I too found this article because I was researching if it was possible to adopt (or foster) an Afghan child. We are an ordinary family with 4 children (3 being grown and gone). We have a lot of love to give and would be able to provide a comfortable home to live in. Not only that, my husband is originally from Iran. He speaks Farsi, as do some Afghans, but even if there was a language barrier, they would have some shared experiences. My own husband himself was a refugee!
I understand your concern that unscrupulous people out there would take advantage of the situation, but our hearts are sincere. We feel like we could really help a child. I also understand the concern of people “swooping in and stealing children” as someone referenced happing in Haiti, but are they not being evacuated by government officials? So everything of course should be done legally.
Even if we could foster a child until his/her parents were found, we’d be glad to do it. Too bad there’s not much information on how to do that.
There IS information about how to help with temporary care in the links at the end of the article. Additionally, there are other reputable organizations not listed in our links, who are moving to help with resettlement. The truth is, there will be relatively few unaccompanied minors and far more whole families seeking care and safe haven. We obviously cannot do much to change international adoption law but we can all work with NGOs who are already trained, sourced, and ready to move on behalf of the vulnerable! I hope you find the right org for you and your family to serve — it sounds as if you have strong feelings about the issues.
I’m Australian and my particular concern is girls not being allowed to obtain schooling past primary level. I have long wanted to adopt a girl from Afghanistan. To me, you sound an ideal candidate and I wish you success in your venture. I’m a Retired Physiotherapist & my wife is a Uni Lecturer in Early Childhood Education. I can’t see why it’s not possible.
It’s a matter of their religous law, coupled with the current regime’s obvious stance against all things US, frankly.
“Adoptions, as we know them, may never be an option for children from Afghanistan. Islamic Shari’a Law does not allow for U.S.-style adoption. Accordingly, it may not be possible for U.S. citizens to adopt a child who is orphaned overseas and obtain an immigrant visa that will allow the child to live in the United States. Some countries in which Shari’a law is observed do allow custody of children to be transferred through guardianship, but it seems unlikely at this time that a Taliban-controlled Afghan government would allow U.S. citizens to do this. Even if allowed, it is usually a long and arduous process that begins with training prospective parents on the impact of trauma.”
Thanks to Creating A Family for posting about this. Hoping family members find each other and stay together, time will be needed to accomplish this and I hope they get it.
The last thing we need is a repeat of what happened to the children from the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and the harm caused to children and their families, when people rushed in to help, but ended up not helping, only hurting in the long run. The story of what happened then and is publicly available and is something people need to read before rushing to leave the type of comments you’re getting.
Thanks again for thinking first of the vulnerable ones.
Thanks, Sandy. We are all feeling helpless and devastated for those who are left behind, left without family, and desperate to survive. We will be watching (with the rest of the world!) to see what plans evolve for reunification and for protecting the vulnerable.
This is an extremely close minded article. You seem to think that everyone who wants to adopt doesn’t have International experience in these countries to know the culture first hand. My husband spent 16 years working in Afghan and Iraq. He’s seen the situations, obviously more than you have. The Afghan by day Taliban by night. Are there families that are so poor, living in such terror, and in such a bad place that they sell their own children or grandchildren or nieces, to be returned by people like you only to be sold again? Yes. And is that better than a loving American family adopting? Is going back to biological family always best? Hell No! Especially for these girls!
We fully understand the strong inclination to “do something” to protect those children and to secure a safe and happy future for them. Truly we do — and we stand with many of the reputable organizations in the provided links, who are doing that very work. However, the facts remain, international adoption from Afghanistan to the U.S. is virtually impossible according to their national laws (see this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Intercountry-Adoption-Country-Information/Afghanistan.html) and according to their cultural and religious laws. There is a very narrow demographic of homes to which Afghan children can be adopted into.
Our post here posits that while our hearts are heavy and prompted to action, pursuing adoption is not the best, first thing we can or should be pursuing. Especially while there is such chaos in-country that will make it complicated and time-constraining to determine if they are truly, legally orphans (as spelled out by the international Hague Convention law: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Adoption-Process/immigrant-visa-process/non-hague-visa-process.html).
Couldn’t agree more. I‘m an Afghan woman living in Germany and well educated, integrated and established. Girls as young as 2 are being sold as we speak??! The nerve in this article to babble about how bad adoption would be makes me angry! You seem to either be blissfully oblivious or free of empathy in how desperate these children must be and how horrific is is for them to argue the way you do. The article is so obviously written by ppl with good intention but zero real empathy and understanding of reality. I would adopt an Afghan children in a heartbeat and absolutely would be capable to provide for a healthy happy carefree and loving upbringing with all chances in the world !
I cannot see anywhere in this article that we are babbling about how bad adoption would be. I can, however, see that we are urging respect of Afghan and Shari’a law in addition to responsible charitable support of organizations working to support those who cannot — by international law and Afghan law – be adopted.
Here is a link to the State Department’s site, where the laws are outlined.
I might be extremely uninformed on all of this, so forgive me. But I stumbled across this article in my searches on adoption as my husband and I have been talking about it alot in our infertility journey. I understand some points that were raised but the attitude of the person ripping apart people wanting to help, albeit misinformed , I find to be extremely upsetting. Hope this reaches the one who wrote the article that I understand they want to get the point across, but there is absolutely no need to be so rude to people – who mostly are hurting loving people that desperately want to help.
A very sad and hurtful read on all levels.
Indeed, we’ve actually been a bit surprised by the tone of comments to this post. We, again, completely understand the desire to help and to be part of securing safe, happy futures for these children. Our hearts break for those who cannot get out to safety and are facing bleak, terrifying days ahead. It’s not our opinion that adoption should not happen, it’s a matter of Afghan and Islamic Shari’a Law. We’ve updated the post to add links to resources that are doing good work in the space of refugee care and we hope that folks who feel so strongly about the future of these families will step into that space. And we desperately hope that someday, the laws of Afghanistan might change to give children left behind a better future!
It most certainly isn’t “demoralizing” to inquire about adopting an orphan from a war torn country. My father and his brother were WWII orphans born in a displaced persons camp and adopted into a loving family. Every situation is different. We are inundated with images of children being handed to American soldiers and yet we are told its demoralizing to inquire about helping a child whose parents would rather have them go to an American family than be in a country with “Sharia law”.
There are Christian run orphanages in Afghanistan that are facing uncertainty. Who will help them? You forget, having a child out of wedlock is punishable by death to the women in those countries. I’ll take this article with a grain of salt. It’s one person’s perspective, nothing more.
Thanks for the reminder about the plight of single mothers in Afghanistan. And that there are orphanages in-country that likely need resources and supports. I hope that if folks feel strongly about supporting those families who have no ability to leave the country, they will look into how to offer help to them.
As to adopting from Afghanistan, our information comes from the US Department of State resources on inter-country adoption.
I agree with you. I am familiar with their adoption rules as far as non-Muslims adopting Muslim children, but you’d think that those who have been evacuated would be allowed to go to good homes no matter what religion. Or, is it better for the children to be kept in state-run homes (or wherever they’re going to be sent? I have no idea.) If I were an Afghan mother that had to hand over my child to a soldier, I would hope and pray that someone loving would keep my child. Imagine the desperation of that mother. It breaks my heart! God help those that couldn’t make it out, especially the women and girls.
I am a licensed foster parent in the state of Kentucky. We have been waiting on a placement for almost a year now. My biological daughter asks me every day when she will have a brother or sister. So if refugee children need a loving and caring home, I will not turn my back.
That’s wonderful – thank you for caring and being willing to open your home, even if temporarily. There are reputable organizations that are supporting these refugees and several are poised to take care of the children who may have been separated from their families in the evacuation process. We’ve added information at the end of the article to help you find one in your area that might be mobilizing to serve those children.
The article is on point and shows quaility information and sensitivity in these turbulent times.
If anyone doubts the veracity of the statements above, please reffer to the US governt´s own page on information about Afghan adoptions from which I quote below just one paragraph:
“The Afghan Civil Code governs the rights and interests of minors in Afghanistan. Islamic Shari’a law, upon which Afghanistan family law is largely based, does not allow for adoption of Afghan children in Afghanistan. Therefore, U.S. citizens considering adoption of an Afghan child must obtain guardianship for the purpose of emigration and adoption in the United States from the Afghan Family Court that has jurisdiction over the prospective adoptive child’s place of residence. It is important to note that according to Afghan laws, prospective adoptive parents who are non-Muslim may not be appointed guardians of Muslim children. Strong cultural ties to Afghanistan (dual Afghan-American nationality, for example) may favorably influence the court’s decision, but are not required.”
Here´s the link to the website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/Intercountry-Adoption/Intercountry-Adoption-Country-Information/Afghanistan.html
So please, kindly, before falling into the hands of unscrupulous “adoption professionals” that make false promises and are trying to make money out of the disgrace that has fallen on the Afghan people, take a step back and reconsider. I´d urge you to ask yourself, what if this child was your child and you got separated during a crisis only to find he has been taken from you by strangers? What if you had passed away but your child has close family memebers that can raise them in your culture, language and faith? Wouldn´t you want that for your child rather than making the trauma more profound by inserting them in a well-intended but totally different family with a different language, culture and faith than yours?
We´ve all seen this happen again and again: Haiti, Syria, to name a few examples.
There are many ways to help as the article says. Please, consider finding the right one.
I think the people who are outraged by this article are missing the point. Remember what happened in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. People dashed in to adopt children. Then we saw people taking children illegally and others stealing children to put them up for adoption to make money. People went to jail. Children were separated from their families. It was terrible. I think this article is hoping we can avoid making the same mistakes in Afghanistan.
We would like to provide foster care for a young Afghan youth. Our children are grown and we have two grandchildren ages 12 (boy) and girl (10). We had the where with all for housing in our home, clothing, education, solid family environment, and the financial ability to make it success.
The best way to help Afghan children here in the US is to help their families. I suspect that few, if any, unaccompanied minors will make it to the US, but many children will be arriving with their parents. These families have lost everything and will need help assimilating and adjusting to living in the US. They need and deserve our help. We have added a couple of sources of information to the main article for you to find out how to help. Thank you for caring and wanting to help.
Agree with Alex.
Whoever wrote this article is an idiot.
I feel like this is the worst article I have ever read. You can tell people about the policies but you are doing it in a way that is literally discouraging people to help. I would trash this article as soon as you can.
Your garbage how dare you discourage adoption by non afghans I was adopted (saved) by a white U S couple they saved my life shame on you
From the article, “Adoptions, as we know them, may never be an option for children from Afghanistan. Islamic Shari’a Law does not allow for U.S.-style adoption. Accordingly, it may not be possible for U.S. citizens to adopt a child who is orphaned overseas and obtain an immigrant visa that will allow the child to live in the United States.” We aren’t discouraging adoption, we are stating the already established policies and laws that govern international adoption. “Even if allowed, it is usually a long and arduous process…”
We believe that the children deserve first to be reunited with family if at all possible. There are many reputable organizations doing great work to help that happen and to care well for the children while the nation is still in crisis and chaos.
Lies, lies and more lies. Every time you open your mouth all I hear is LIES and a hint of racism!! No one is asking you for your expert advice. If you are trying to be productive and caring then stop spreading these lies. Your opinion does not mean crap when there are lawyers and immigration attorneys out there to help out families in need. Leave this up to families and professionals and go do something that spreads love and not this BS.
Before calling names on anybody and accusing somebody you don´t know about anything, please, kindly educate yourself.
You don´t have to go far or to external resources.
Here is the page of the US government travel website indicating all the above stated in the article is true.
To quote the US gov website:
” The Afghan Civil Code governs the rights and interests of minors in Afghanistan. Islamic Shari’a law, upon which Afghanistan family law is largely based, does not allow for adoption of Afghan children in Afghanistan. Therefore, U.S. citizens considering adoption of an Afghan child must obtain guardianship for the purpose of emigration and adoption in the United States from the Afghan Family Court that has jurisdiction over the prospective adoptive child’s place of residence. It is important to note that according to Afghan laws, prospective adoptive parents who are non-Muslim may not be appointed guardians of Muslim children. Strong cultural ties to Afghanistan (dual Afghan-American nationality, for example) may favorably influence the court’s decision, but are not required.”
There are many other ways to spread the love. Please, consider them.
They still need places to stay and see our cultures and interactions. How to do they see that out side of a home
Agreed! Garbage, where there is a will there is a way.