Morocco tightens adoption rules, Spanish families hit hard

Reports of conversion to Christianity
11 APRIL, 16:20

(ANSAmed) – MADRID, APRIL 11 – Susana Ramos held the Moroccan baby she was planning to adopt when he was only six weeks old.

”When I saw him, I just knew I would never be separated from him,” she said. But a year has since gone by, Susana has traveled to the North African country over 25 times, and the infant is still in a Rabat orphanage after Morocco suspended international adoptions in 2012. ”It changed the rules of the game,” said the woman, who was deemed fit to be a single mother and who is suffering the anguish of being far from her little one – as are the other fifty some Spanish families (200 foreign ones overall) who had their adoption processes halted by Moroccan authorities. Until a year ago foreign families could adopt in the country through an easier process than those in other countries.

They simply needed to meet a number of requirements: be Muslim or convert to Islam if they weren’t; respect the given and family names of the little one, as well as their nationality and religion until he or she became an adult; comply with the consular checks ordered by a magistrate who granted the ‘kafala’, look after the child’s upbringing and fulfil a number of conditions. However, in March 2012 – a few months into the mandate of Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkiran of the moderate Islamic party PDJ – adoption procedures wer halted after a notice was sent to juvenile judges by Justice Minister Mustafa’ Ramid which suspended the process for parents not residing in Morocco. The lawyer Nadia Mouhir, who represents numerous adoptive families in Rabat, has told the media that the ministry’s decision had been influenced by a number of Moroccans living in Spain after reports that adopted children were cut off from their birth country and had been converted to Christianity. Susana, like other Spanish families who had begun the adoption process before the ministerial notice, has not given up. All have signed a letter addressed to King Mohamed VI – a copy of which was also sent to Spain’s king, Juan Carlos – in which they request intervention to resolve the matter. ”If the rules had not been changed, in August I would have had my baby with me,” Susana said. She continues to travel to Morocco at least twice per month to be close to the child.

”Every time I see him, I tiptoe up to him and when he sees me he begins to laugh and hold out his arms for him to pick him up.

He started teething in January”. She acknowledged that ”legally speaking the children are not ours, but we are attached to them by maternal feelings”.

She said that she understands the concerns of the Moroccan government, but that ”these can be resolved by working with the consulates and Moroccan associations in Spain”. The issue was at the center of talks between Morocco’s minister of justice and his Spanish counterpart, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, but a solution is still far off. For Susana and the other would-be parents, one solution could be moving to the North African country. ”What concerns me about a forced migration,” she said, ”is being able to build a stable environment in another country. I am now fit to be a mother according to Spanish criteria: with my family, my job, my friends and job stability.

Would I be able to create the same situation in Morocco?”. That said, she vows above all that ”the last thing on earth I would do is give up my child”