Approximately 7,000 children are deserted or abandoned at birth every year in Morocco. In 2016, about 20 of these were adopted by Americans. A private adoption is any adoption that does not involve an orphanage. Perhaps you would like to adopt a relative. Perhaps you know of a woman who does not want to parent her baby for any number of reasons or maybe you know of a baby who was left at a hospital shortly after birth. Perhaps one parent is dead and the other cannot care for the child.

Private adoptions are possible in Morocco because both Moroccan law and US law permit you to adopt a child who did not come from an orphanage. In order to adopt privately in Morocco we must examine whether the child in question falls under the definition of orphan. Remember that a child is an orphan if:

1. He has no parents because the parents are deceased or
2. He has been deserted by the parents and as a result the Moroccan judge granted a Kafalla or
3. The parents have disappeared and we don’t know what has become of them or
4. There is one parent who cannot care for the child or
5. The child has been abandoned to an orphanage.

These definitions may be found in the Immigration of Nationality Act and if your child falls under any one of them, there is a good chance that he or she may be granted an immigrant visa once a Kafalla has been issued in your favor.

If you are considering a private adoption from Morocco, you should also consider the following important section of the law, a child may not be placed in an orphanage simply to make it appear that he or she is an orphan. Here is the US regulation which specifically prohibits this action:

The relinquishment or release of the child by the parents to a third party for custodial care in anticipation of, or preparation for, adoption does not constitute abandonment … A child who is placed temporarily in an orphanage shall not be considered to be abandoned if the parents express an intention to retrieve the child, are contributing or attempting to contribute to the support of the child, or otherwise exhibit ongoing parental interest in the child. Only a child who has been given unconditionally to an orphanage shall be considered to be abandoned.

In other words, if someone places a child in an orphanage just to make it appear that the child is an abandoned orphan, then that child does not fall under the definition of an abandoned orphan and may be denied a visa to enter the United States. Such actions would involve a fraud on the US government (pretending the child came from an orphanage) and should be avoided. There is no need to pursue this course of action because both US and Moroccan law allow for adoption of children in need of care for a variety of other reasons.

Remember that in order to adopt from Morocco, you must be of the same faith as the child you seek to adopt. Only a Muslim may adopt a Muslim child. Children are presumed to be Muslim absent strong evidence to the contrary. Courts prefer parents who are not recent converts to Islam and a having a strong family background in Islam is helpful if you seek to adopt a Muslim child in Morocco. The Kafalla orders we see coming from Morocco are generally detailed and well-written and hence form a strong foundation for any orphan visa case. The courts function relatively quickly, even in the more rural areas.

Finally, I wanted to mention that the recent Executive Orders regarding Muslims do not impact Moroccan adoptions at the present time.