Sharjah: “Mama.” Umm Salem longed to hear it from her child. Her 10-year wait proved fruitless, as she and her husband could not have children. Finally, their thoughts turned to adoption.
With their parents’ approval, Umm Salem and her husband submitted their application to the Department of Social Services in Sharjah. They didn’t have to wait long to receive the call to see the children available for adoption.
As she scanned the faces of the children, Umm Salem’s gaze fixed on a boy who was looking at her. “Mama,” he whispered to her. That was the decisive moment, and Umm Salem did not return home without him.
They named him Salem. Today, he is 10 years old and aware of the adoption, as Umm Salem prepared him for it. Salem now wants a brother and keeps pressing Umm Salem to adopt another child.
Umm Salem’s story is one of many heartwarming reports from Sharjah, where children of unknown parentage and orphans have found love and care in families without children. Adoption has brought joy and fulfilment to these foster parents.
Adopt a child
Jawaher’s experience was different. She has a child, but her subsequent attempts to conceive have failed. So when her nine-year-old daughter expressed a desire for a sister, Jawaher and her husband decided to adopt a child. They adopted a 4-month-old baby girl with the approval of their parents through Sharjah’s Department of Social Services.
The department plays an active role in overseeing the fostering programme, ensuring the welfare and integration of children of unknown parentage into loving families. They evaluate applications and help in the adoption process, besides providing financial support and monitoring the well-being of children through developmental stages.
Fatima too benefited from the department’s screening and support. Unable to conceive after nine years of marriage, she decided to adopt a child. Soon after adoption, Fatima became pregnant with twin girls (one passed away). Fatima and her husband believe that the arrival of the foster child brought good luck to the family and filled them with joy.
Shamma, a baby girl, was lucky. She was abandoned at the gate of Aisha’s house 16 years ago. The housewife decided to keep Shamma and quickly completed the adoption procedures, although she had two children — a boy and a girl.
'Gift of God'
Aisha considers Shamma a gift from God. She believes the child was placed at her doorstep so that she could raise her. So Aisha has poured all her time and effort into bringing up Shamma along with her biological children.
There are many more stories of people finding joy and purpose in life through adoption. Some people are quick to accept the idea, while others take time to consider it.
Adoption has gained pace in the UAE since Islam permits it, and the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stresses the need to take care of orphans. In the 1980s, Sharjah became the first UAE emirate to launch a programme for families to adopt children of unknown parentage.
How adoption works
The Department of Social Services in Sharjah processes the applications for adoption of children of unknown parentage. They collaborate with the Minors’ Services Centre and the Family Integration Division for children without social welfare to whet the applications. Their decisions are based on the fostering law of the Ministry of Community Development.
A committee verifies whether prospective families have the necessary living conditions for the healthy growth of adopted children. Every effort is made to protect the children’s rights and ensure that health, psychological, social, educational, or recreational aspects are taken care of, besides protecting them from abuse.
The Integration Division follows up on foster children until a boy becomes a man and an employee, and a girl gets married. A monthly sum is allocated to foster children, and officials conduct periodic visits to ensure the children are well looked after.