Adoptions from Morocco suspended

Summary

Pending a case in which a Flemish couple’s adoption approval was overturned, authorities have stopped adoptions of Moroccan children

Parents can only be “guardians” of Moroccan children

The Flemish authorities will not accept any more adoption requests concerning children from Morocco, while awaiting the outcome of a case before the Cassation Court. The case concerns a child that was placed two years ago with a Flemish couple, who have now been approved for an adoption by the youth tribunal in Dendermonde.

Adoptions from Morocco, however, are more restrictive in that they do not sever all ties with the biological parents. The public prosecutor appealed, and the court of appeal in Ghent overturned the approval.

Part of the court’s reason was principle: Morocco does not allow the adoption of children, only guardianship. Another issue was the name on the birth certificate of the child’s father, who had not given permission for the adoption. It was explained that the named “father” was fictional; the mother had given a false name to avoid shaming her family.

The case is now before the Cassation Court. The couple are questioning how legal procedures can all be followed to the letter, only to be overturned by the courts.

There are about 80 adopted Moroccan children in Belgium, mostly in Brussels and Wallonia. According to Flemish adoption officer Ariane Vandenberghe, orphanages in Morocco continue to offer children for adoption, and there are candidate parents here. “But we can’t risk a repeat of this story,” she said.