Children are bearing the brunt of the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. Can you adopt a Syrian orphan? According to the US embassy in Damascus, several attempts by U.S. prospective adoptive parents have failed. I think this is because I wasn’t their lawyer! Like many other Muslim countries Syria’s personal status law does not recognize the concept of adoption however; Syrian courts will grant guardianship decrees and these can be used as the basis for an orphan visa petition. The State Department often places a moratorium on adoptions from war zones because it is almost impossible to verify which children might fall under the definition of orphan and which don’t. There is no such moratorium in place in Syria. That said, anyone considering an adoption in Syria should be prepared to submit A LOT of evidence to the US immigration authorities that the child they wish to adopt falls under the definition of orphan. Even more encouraging, US immigration laws allow for orphan visas to be issued to children who have not been seen in person by the US citizens who are adopting them. This means that a trip to Syria (which let’s face it, nobody really wants to do right now) is not necessarily mandatory for US immigration purposes although a Syrian court may require it.
Number of orphan visas issued to Syrian children last year: Zero.
I’d like to try to change that in 2014.