So many viewers have written wanting to open their homes and offer Iraqi children new lives. Unfortunately, Iraqi lawyers, international child care agencies, officials at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. State Department in Washington all tell us adoption is not possible. Here is why:
Iraqi laws/Islamic laws
Adoption is not allowed in Iraq for both religious and Islamic reasons. It is illegal for a foreigner to an adopt an Iraqi child. It is illegal for a non-Muslim to adopt a Muslim child.
What is allowed in Iraq is a system of guardianship, in which a family cares for an orphan without the child actually becoming a son or daughter. Currently, it is not permitted for a foreigner to become a legal guardian of an Iraqi child.
Aid agencies, including UNICEF and the U.S. State Department, also discourage adoptions from countries in crisis because it is difficult to establish if children are in fact orphans, or have just been separated from living relatives because of the chaos of war.
What to do
Most aid groups working with children tell us the best way to help orphans in countries in crisis is to try to place them with their extended families and provide those families the financial support and training to care for the children. UNICEF has agreed to earmark all donations it receives as a result of our story for this type of program in Iraq. Click here to visit their Web site.