Child Adoption

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Posted: 3 Jamad-ul-Awwal 1423, 14 July 2002

Q.) I have been married for 10 years and don't have kids. Can I adopt the kid of my brother or my wife's sister?

A.) If by adoption is meant that you take a poor child and look after his boarding, lodging and clothing, Islam has always stressed the importance of helping the poor and needy people. One can always give charity and fatherly love to the child. It is reported in a hadith that the one who assumes responsibility for the wellbeing of an orphan will be granted the nearness of Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam in Jannat (Mishkaat). This is an extremely neglected Sunnat of our beloved Nabi Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and we should definitely aspire in this direction.

However, we must uphold the framework of the Shariah in doing so. One cannot legally adopt; you cannot give your name to the child. Legal adoption like this is prohibited in Islam. If a person legally adopts a child there can be several complications. Firstly, the child will lose his identity. Secondly, suppose after adopting a child one has children of his own. It is natural that in such a situation you will show bias in favor of your own blood child. Thirdly, if the child born to you is of the opposite sex to the adopted child, they cannot freely stay in the same home because they aren't blood related to each other. When the adopted child, a girl, grows up, she has to observe hijab with the adopted father as he is not her real father. If the boy becomes a man and marries, there will be hijab between the so called father and daughter-in-law. If you adopt a child you will be depriving him/her of many rights. If a person dies, the property that he leaves behind has to be divided according to what is mentioned in the Qur'an. If the person has children and if he legally adopted a child, he will be depriving his own child of his legitimate inheritance. If a person has no children when he dies, then his wife will get 1/4 the estate. If there are children she gets 1/8. Again the adopted child will reduce the share of the mother should this child be considered legally legitimate. To avoid all these complications, legal adoption is prohibited in Islam. However this should in no way dissuade us from earning tremendous reward by taking care of orphan children.