UAE: Is it legal to adopt a child? Laws, eligibility explained

UAE provides a monthly assistance for orphans and children from unknown parents who are under the care of residents


Laraib Anwer

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AI generated image used for illustrative purposes
AI generated image used for illustrative purposes

Published: Tue 6 Feb 2024, 1:24 PM

Last updated: Sat 2 Mar 2024, 8:16 PM

Parents looking to adopt in the UAE might face some confusion regarding the laws surrounding fostering and raising a child.

Although 'adoption' is not legally permitted in the country, residents can raise a child of unknown parentage, keeping in mind some conditions.

The UAE has set in place certain laws to ensure the protection of orphan's rights. As per a federal law, the country provides a monthly assistance for orphans under UAE citizens' care as well as for children from unknown parents.

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UAE law concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law, mentions that a child who is deprived of his or her natural family, has the right to alternative care through a foster family, or a public or private social welfare institution, if a foster family is not available.

Whereas law concerning foster parents of a child lays down the provisions for caring for children of unknown parentage in the UAE through establishing child care homes and determining eligible foster families who are able to provide health, entertainment, and psychological, social and educational care to children.

The Ministry of Community Development (MoCD) is in charge of supervising child care homes and ensuring proper foster families for children.

From eligibility to orphan protection entities, here's what UAE law has to say about 'adoption' in the country.

Criteria for fostering a child

  1. The foster parent or couple must be Muslim, Emirati and currently residing in the UAE
  2. The guardians must not be younger than 25 years of age
  3. They should not have been convicted of offences or crimes involving moral turpitude in the past
  4. They should not be suffering from infectious diseases or psychological and mental disorders
  5. These parents must have the ability to financially support family members and the foster child
  6. The parent must undertake the responsibility of treating and raising the child in a proper manner and take care of his/her health and well-being

Can single women foster?

Single women in the UAE are permitted to foster a child under certain set terms and conditions — this includes divorced and widowed women. These are as follows:

  1. These women should be a Muslim, Emirati and residing in the UAE
  2. Women who are eligible to apply must be at least 30 years old
  3. They must be able to support the child financially

Documents required from citizens

Citizens looking to foster a child are required to present select documents while applying for a foster parent application through MoCD. These are:

  • Copy of Emirates ID card
  • Personal photo of the couple or parent
  • A copy of the parent's family book
  • Passport copy
  • A disease-free certificate must be provided
  • Salary certificate
  • Certificate of good conduct
  • Documents providing proof of home ownership

Apart from MoCD, other authorities in the UAE provide child care homes too. These are:

  • Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi
  • Community Development Authority in Dubai
  • Government of Sharjah, Social Services Department

Child-sponsoring programmes

  • The Emirates Red Crescent Authority facilitates sponsoring programmes for orphans inside and outside of the UAE
  • Zakat Fund operates an ‘Orphan’s project’ which supports families of orphans


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