Can you give information about adoption? Does the child who is adopted become a stranger to the adoptive mother when he grows up? And what is the religious decree to remove that state?

Details of the Question
Assalamu alekum, I have 2 daughter (elder one is 5 years old and the younger is 2 months). I want to adopt a baby boy. Is it permissible to adopt a baby boy? Thank you, Jazak Allah...
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Adoption, the tradition of joining somebody else's child into one's own family, has been present in all ages of history. Especially, in the Age of Ignorance before Islam, that tradition was more prevalent. Whoever wished joined anybody he chose into his own children and announced that he adopted that child. Then he would say to the adopted child: “You are my son; I am an heir to you and you are to me.” Thus that child would be accepted as his own son. As well as a member of the family, he would also share the rights and duties of the family members and would carry the name of the family. One who adopted was deemed the father of the child. And the wife of the adopting person took the place of the child's mother. The wife of the adopted son was accepted as the daughter-in-law of the adoptive father; therefore, it was not possible for him to marry his daughter-in-law after they got divorced.

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, took Zayd b. Sabit as an adoptive child. Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, was sold as a slave at an early age and Hadija, may Allah be pleased with her, bought him. Then she gave him to The Prophet as a gift. Zayd was in the service of The Prophet. One day, Zayd's father and uncle came to ask for him in return for salvage money. Our Prophet set Zayd free and let him decide. But Zayd preferred The Prophet to his father and uncle and wanted to stay with him. Thereafter The Prophet set him free from slavery. Addressing the present crowd, he said: “Bear witness! Zayd is my son; I am his heir and he is mine.” Thus, his father and uncle left, pleased. From then on, Zayd became the adoptive son of The Prophet. He was then called “Zayd son of Muhammad”. 1

When the rightful religion came, the traditions and habits practiced in the Age of Ignorance started to change one by one; people were shown the legal path and falsehoods and injustices were replaced by essentials of rightness and justice. One of the habits of the Ignorance was the institution of adoption as it was practiced then.

Allah Most High abolished that practice which is contrary to the human nature, through both open command and exemplifying it on His Prophet.

The translation of the verse about this subject is as follows:

Nor has He made your adopted sons your sons (in fact). Those are only expressions you utter with your mouths, whereas God speaks the truth and He guides to the right way. Call them (the children you have adopted) after their (real) fathers: doing so is more equitable in the sight of God. If you do not know who their fathers are, then (they are) your brothers in religion and your protégés (so observe the duties of brotherhood between you and them). However, there is no blame on you because of the mistakes you may make unintentionally (in naming them), but what your hearts have premeditated (matters greatly). God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate.” 2

Thus with this verse the tradition of adoption was abolished. That illegal tradition was ordained to be forbidden. For through adoption neither one becomes a real son/daughter, nor the adopting person becomes a real parent.

The Prophet was informed of Allah's commands about that prohibition and about the fact that no child becomes a real son by saying “You are my son.” It was explained that it is religiously legal for the adoptive father to marry the wife divorced by the adopted son. 3

Adoption is forbidden in our religion as it entails the following drawbacks: First, by bringing someone else's child to the state of one's own child in an illegal way, an unjust and affected conduct is performed. To accept a stranger child as a son or daughter is to change the fitrah (innate disposition). To tamper with the lineage which is accepted as sacred leads to oblivion of the real parents of the child.

Second, when that child grows up, the points of privacy inside the family will not be complied with. The rules governing such points as hijab (covering one's parts), looking and touching will not be followed. If the child is a male, then he will be together with all the girls of the family; if female, then she will live with all the male members of the family. However, whether male or female, neither the housewife is his/her mother, nor the relatives of that family are the family of the adopted child; they are no different from strangers. When they grow up, they will always be faced with forbidden actions as long as they are inside the family.

Another drawback is, the adopted child will share the inheritance. Thus the more close relatives will be deprived either partially or wholly of the inheritance. The inheritors whose rights are violated will view that child with enmity. For the adopted child does not in reality have the right for share in the inheritance.

So, due to all those drawbacks, our religion does not advice adoption. However, aside from the mentioned adoption, it is a virtue for somebody to take the child of a relative or a friend under his/her protection, to take and love a homeless and orphan child like his/her child, and to feed, look after him/her, to educate and to support his/her education. However, in that case, too, s/he must not register the child all to himself/herself, must not transfer the rights of the son/daughter to him/her, and must pay attention to the matter of privacy. Nonetheless, if one wishes, one may donate some of one's money to the child while alive. Or one may state in one's will that some of one's property be given to the adopted person. Indeed, in many of his hadiths, The Prophet gave the glad tidings of Paradise to those who looked after homeless and orphan children. 4

The Result:

This topic has three important aspects:

1. As the adopted child, if female, will be outside of the protected limits to the adoptive father, and if male, he will be so to the mother, it is not permitted in view of the possibility of being together alone. This problem may be overcome by suckling the adopted child. As the adoptive mother will be milk mother, and the adoptive father milk father, there will be no religious drawback.

2. Adoptive parents may not show the mercy and compassion that the real parents of the child would have shown. For this reason, there is the responsibility of depriving the child of his/her real parents. And this is an important point for the child. But this may not be a problem for orphans.

3. The inheritance of the adoptive parents will be left to the child. However, that inheritance is supposed to be left to the relatives. And this is to give the right of others to the adopted child, which is not permitted. As a solution for that, the real inheritors may be asked for their acceptance/waive of right or the adopted child may legally be deprived of the inheritance.

Based on those three reasons, we can say that adoption is not right. Provided those three obstacles are religiously solved, then it is not forbidden to adopt a child, God willing.

Sources

1. Usdu’l-Gaba, 2: 225.
2. The Qur'an, Al-Ahzab, 33:4-5
3. The Qur'an, Al-Ahzab, 33:37
4. Muslim, Zuhd: 42

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