We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

Adoption in Egypt

Some housekeeping: I know some people find their way to my blog because of an interest in adopting from Egypt. This is close to impossible, as far as I know. I added some information on this topic to my adoption page.


24 August 2008 - Posted by | adoption


  1. That’s right. We’ve known one family who did it over a decade ago, but the wife was an Egyptian citizen, and the husband American. The wife was Coptic, not Muslim; the current interpretation of Shariya does not recognize adoption of Muslim children, as we think of it. They were given custody by the Egyptian govt. with the understanding that there would be adoption abroad in the U.S, and it took a very long time to finalize even this simple form of custody, so that the child could travel outside of Egypt with them. They were only able to do this because the wife was Egyptian. A lot of Muslim families in Egypt will “adopt” an orphan, in the sense that they will pay for his education and send presents. More of what we think of as sponsorship, but a very prolonged and costly commitment. Very admirable, imo. But naming and inheritance laws do not translate culturally. Will be glad to talk with you more about this topic in person sometime.

    And you’re right–homeleave is well known to be WORK. Hardly a vacation when you have to take care of 1-2 years’ worth of doctor and dentist appointments, legal issues, banking issues, real estate issues, seeing multiple family members and friends, and massive shopping, all in a few jet-lagged weeks…

    Comment by J | 26 August 2008

  2. Forgot to say that the child was also born into a Coptic family. Abandoned children are assumed to be Muslim.

    Comment by J | 26 August 2008

  3. Hey im wondering the laws of adopting in egypt because im muslim and im only 22 years old i see so many children and i wish to adopt in a couple of years and i wish to have info that i cant seem to find on the web, thanx in advance
    Hibak a.m.

    Comment by Hibak Abdirashid mohamed | 1 December 2008

  4. Hibak, all that I know I have posted here: https://egypt4.wordpress.com/adoption/

    I am sorry not to be of more help. Your best bet is probably your family lawyer, or speak to someone at a Muslim orphanage. Good luck!

    Comment by Ms. Four | 2 December 2008

  5. Hey There,

    I’m a Master’s student in the International Human Rights Law program at AUC, and I am actually doing a project on Egypt’s inter-country adoption policy with respect to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I was just wondering if you by chance knew where I could get a copy of the actual Egyptian law in English? Any help would really be appreciated. thanks!


    Comment by Mallory | 3 December 2008

  6. Hey,
    I have friends of mine (couple), husband is American Citizen and wife is Egyptian; they tried adoption in Egypt and the Egyptian Authorities detained them now for more than 45 days with no charges whatsoever; how do we get the law on our side to get them out; the lawyer is not given access to their case file at all.
    Desparate in need of help or who to contact to help my friends out; I believe that they are deprived of Human Rights to be Detained for that long without being charged nor to be defended by any lawyer. American Embassy, State Department cannot help unless they are charged. Please advise or help if….

    Comment by San | 31 January 2009

  7. San, I sent you an email. For other folks who are interested: adoption is generally NOT LEGAL in Egypt. If someone tells you otherwise, there is probably a scam going on.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 31 January 2009

  8. Yeah, I got your e-mail, thanks for your quick response; you’re right they got caught in the scam just like 2 other couple who are also detained..it has become a Christian Muslim issue at the moment with the media all over. I don’t know if we could ask for clemency from the President or get the the Pope to help; what do you think?
    Cindy was much of help with contacts and we will do that…that was very helpful of you, thanks

    Comment by San | 31 January 2009

  9. San, you’re saying this is all over the media, but has it been covered in the English-language media? I’ve only seen it in one story in English. It might be better for your friends for this to be more widely known. Egypt depends a lot on tourism dollars, and it might be good for the world to know if Egypt is detaining Americans without charging them.

    I have no idea what to suggest beyond contacting the press. The Pope (at the Vatican) has no jurisdiction over anything that happens with Christians in Egypt, who are Coptic Christians.

    I’m very interested to know more about this situation, either here or via email. And I do encourage you to follow up with the press.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 31 January 2009

  10. I have to follow this case up to see the end of it, for it is over 3 months since they left US..I will get follow the steps you told me in your e-mail with Cindy & Hossam and see from there…I was getting to a dead end of this issue but I will not give up on my friends. I happened to stumble on this website while trying to google “Adoption in Egypt.” It is pathetic to see Egyptian Authority how they try to live in “Democrazy” instead of “Democracy”..”Ba7shish” goes a long way for them instead of abiding the laws and respect Human Rights..The orphans there in Egypt not that are treated any better???
    I’ll keep you posted thanks again!

    Comment by San | 1 February 2009

  11. I wonder if Mallory who put a comment on this topic will be interested in taking this case for media???

    Comment by San | 1 February 2009

  12. San, I’m no apologist for the Egyptian government, but I suspect you will get further by respecting Egypt and its laws than by commenting on typos. The US State Department is very clear that adoption from Egypt is near-impossible for US citizens (though right now it looks like they are updating information for Egypt on their website).

    Every country sets its own rules for adoption, domestic or international, and people are obliged to follow those rules, no matter how much we may dislike them.

    I think Cindy is the best contact, media-wise, for you. Mallory is a student, not a journalist.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 1 February 2009

  13. Yeah, I do respect their laws, that’s what it is; we have to respect that no doubt it just sounds odd to detain someone without any charges for a long period of time..

    Comment by San | 1 February 2009

  14. San, you mean like at Guantanamo?

    (Okay, that’s not exactly comparable, and I agree that your friends should be charged or released. But the US is not beyond reproach.)

    I suspect coverage in the English language press would really help your friends’ case.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 1 February 2009

  15. Hi,
    I am a teacher here in Texas and I am very interested in teaching abroad in Egypt (K-12).
    Partly, because I am leaning Egyptian Arabic and want to practice in an Arabic speaking environment, partly because I am also interested in Arabic culture and partly because I would love to teach abroad for the experience.

    Any suggestions/tips from experienced American Expats now working in Egypt?

    Comment by Christina | 24 February 2009

  16. Christina, I’d encourage you to look at the websites for the some of the American schools in Cairo, including Cairo American College and American International School (among others). The larger K-12 often hire at job fairs in the US, but sometimes they also post jobs on their websites.

    My advice, pretty much, is just to apply. I think the schools are hiring for next fall right now, so it’d be a good time to start thinking about fall 2010. Good luck!

    Comment by Ms. Four | 24 February 2009

  17. Thanks Ms. Four,

    I appreciate your encouragement.
    I hear a lot of misgivings about Cairo from many who have visited there, but I myself would such challenge and departure from familiar surroundings. I look forward to the busy, crowded frenetic atmosphere of Egypt and whatever it is that I must learn to survive and cope with. Change can be difficult, but always positive in ways not foreseen.

    I love the Egyptian Arabic dialect and really hope to become fluent and also just see the world from a new vantage point.

    I think generally people have a very one sided view of Middle Eastern people and that’s unfortunate. It’s a great culture with many generous hearts.

    Best and I’ll check out the sites.

    Comment by Christina | 25 February 2009

  18. Christina, Cairo is a tough place to live, mostly because of the pollution. But a lot of people really love it here, too. I definitely would not judge a place based on a tourist’s perspective!

    Comment by Ms. Four | 25 February 2009

  19. Thanks again Ms. Four.

    Just yesterday I received notice of a US Government year Fulbright scholarship opportunity in the Visual Arts located in Egypt. I could hardly believe it! But there it was! I will certainly try for this amazing opportunity. If I’m lucky, it will be a step that may eventually lead to a “thousand and one nights” (and days!)in Egypt)
    Art, Egypt and I keep crossing paths, I feel certain it will lead to good things and much change and that is truly what I hope for.
    All the best to you and your family

    Comment by Christina | 27 February 2009

  20. Good luck, Christina!

    Comment by Ms. Four | 27 February 2009

  21. Just a note to everyone in response to J’s comment,
    Shariya law encourages adoption and in no way, shape or form does Islam not allow adoption. In fact quite the opposite, Islam as a religion views adoption of a child as one of the greatest acts of humanity and indeed one which opens the doors to Heaven. Islamically one can adopt a child, however his father’s name must be kept to avoid any misunderstandings in the future. Culturally in Egypt, adoption is neither discouraged nor encouraged, however it is not common. Egyptians sometimes feel that it is risky adopting in the sense that the child may have negative mental or social predispositions for certain actions which may be genetic and unknown to the adopting parents. Silly I know because any child may have this and this can never be predicted but this is how the culture is. As ‘J’ indicated in her comment, many many families in Egypt sponsor orphans and indeed Suzanne Mubarak herself has set up numerous charities and orphanages. I urge anyone who wishes to state what and what not Shariya law dictates to look into it properly first and not confuse it with how the Egyptian government are or indeed the culture views adoption.


    Comment by Nellie | 8 March 2009

  22. Nellie, thanks for your comment. The information is helpful. But I think you and J are talking about different things. You are talking about Egyptians taking care of /fostering Egyptian children. I wouldn’t call this adoption–not being entitled to take your adoptive father’s name and inherit from him is a very different conception of adoption than in the west. It’s more like long-term fostering.

    It is illegal for Americans (and most if not all other foreigners) to adopt internationally from Egypt. And in the case, the Egyptian government is very important, because adopting from a country requires the involvement of the country’s government.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 8 March 2009

  23. […] buying in Egypt As I’ve written about before on this blog, and as people have discussed in comments, international adoption from Egypt doesn’t really happen. Not legally anyway. (Domestic […]

    Pingback by Baby buying in Egypt « We Four in Egypt | 17 March 2009

  24. This has been an interesting place to read about adoption from Egypt. I am an Egyptian woman, married to a Polish man, living in the US. We have one biological daughter and are expecting a biological son. It was a hassle to get the Egyptian birth certificate for my daughter, especially with the fact that as a Polish female her last name differs from that of her father. Hopefully it’ll be easier with a son, who will have the same last name as his father. Being through this experience I know how difficult it is to get any paperwork done for any out of the ordinary situations. Government officials are often very sympathetic, but they have laws and rules to follow or they are faced with negligence etc.

    I always wanted to adopt and because of the strict Egyptian laws, I want to adopt from Egypt, so that the child gets the Egyptian citizenship. It means a lot to me that all my children would carry my citizenship. This would not be an issue in Poland or in the US, as they legally become our children and get whatever citizenship we would have (Polish or US).

    My two concerns are:
    1- inheritance but to get over it, one can write their properties in Egypt in the name of the children (my sisters and I are not adopted and my parents have long written all of the things we would inherit in our names, but they manage them until their deaths).
    2- Adoption is not allowed in Sharia, fostering is. Actually fostering is promoted and adoption is banned. It says not to mix geneology, because what if there were a boy and a girl of the same family given out to adoption and then they end up marrying, which would be incest. So, the law in Egypt as well as the laws of Sharia will not allow adoption in the meaning of adoption (in non-muslim world)This is the more complicated issue for my family. It is impossible in Egypt to give the children our family’s last name. As I am Egyptian and still have roots in Egypt, it could cause problems. Would the child have two different names? One we use in Egypt and one we use abroad (with our last name?) It is too confusing. What if we decide to return to Egypt? Would the poor kid get a new persona? I think this is the main reason we are holding off on adoption. I know know why many people cheat and lie in the birth certificates of their children in Egypt, when they are adopting a new born. No one will check if you are really the parents if one or both parents are Egyptian.

    I understand that the laws in Egypt are french laws, but in civil laws they are guided by Sharia for Muslims and the church for Christians, but it just makes it difficult to provide homes for a lot of orphans in Egypt. And I understand the fear of international adoption a lot of third world countries are terrified of it, because they become a baby market, especially with a huge population.

    I did not add much to this forum, but I just wanted to share my frustration about not being able to adopt from my own country. 😦 Even if the laws and rules make sense.

    Comment by Mona | 30 July 2009

  25. Dear Forum,

    Thanks for all of your thoughtful questions and comments. I welcome any and all comments as regards the following situation.
    I am a US citizen and am engaged to an Egyptian national. Hopefully, we will be blessed with 1 – 2 biological children of our own. However, we would like to sponsor a child, her niece, to come to America for her education and act as her legal guardians.
    How difficult is this procedure as concerns the Egyptian government?
    The US side of things, though not straightforward, is something I understand (visa application, school fees, etc.).
    Please add your comments and or advice as you see fit.

    Comment by Danny Etman | 18 December 2009

  26. Danny, I really have no idea. You’d need to contact a family/immigration lawyer in the US, first, and then in Egypt. Ask your wife’s family for a recommendation for a lawyer, or check the US Embassy in Cairo’s website.

    Comment by Ms. Four | 18 December 2009

  27. Ms. Four,
    Thanks for the rapid response. I’m aware of the whole student visa process as it is the same for a minor child vs. young adult with exception of the need for a designated guardian. My step-mother works in private education in the USA.
    I will contact some lawyers I know in Egypt for their opinions.

    Comment by Danny Etman | 18 December 2009

  28. As a coptic christian who works with many christian orphans, I see first hand the suffering that is caused this law. If muslims feel that adoption is against their religion, then they have every right not to adopt. However to ban the indigenous coptic population from helping their own children, is not only inhumane, but also goes directly opposes several basic human and civil rights.

    Comment by amir | 13 January 2010


    Comment by STEPHENIE MCCORMICK | 28 February 2010

  30. This topic really interests me, i have been looking into adopting from egypt, being that my husband is origanilly from there. I am a muslim american, who has visited orphanages before in egypt. The numbers of orphans are astounding. It saddens me that all these children have to live without love just because some men have interperted sharia in this way. however i know adoption is not impossible my dad legally adopted my half brother here in the states, so this leads me to belive it is certain people’s interpertaion of sharia. We have one biological baby boy (elhamdullah) with a lot of love still to give to another child in need. It just scares me to get into this process because i kno how difficult paper work is and court proceedings are in egypt as well as the corruptness.

    Comment by duda | 12 June 2010

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