Religion and the Law

Canada Apparently Banned Adoptions from Muslim Countries, Based on Its Own Interpretation of Sharia

And this included adoptions that the relevant Muslim country's courts had specifically authorized.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


So reports the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Shanifa Nasser):

Adopting from Pakistan isn't straightforward. Like Canada, the country's laws are based on the British system. But they also draw from Islamic tradition, which generally holds that a child's biological ties must never be severed….

Pakistan has no official adoption law. But to provide a chance at a new life for the tens of thousands of orphaned or abandoned children there, the courts can grant permission to a guardian to take a child abroad for adoption — as they did for Imran [the child discussed in the CBC story].

It was the same for Canadian parents until 2013, when the federal government abruptly closed the door, leaving the lives of more than 50 families on hold.

According to the federal government at the time, continuing with adoptions from Pakistan violated Canada's commitment to the Hague Convention on international adoption. Under the convention, it argued, it could only process adoptions where a parent-child relationship was created in the child's home country — something it argued was impossible under Shariah law.

That's a view not shared by the United States and United Kingdom, which are also Hague Convention members. Both countries allow citizens who have been approved for adoptions to bring their child home through a Pakistan court order. Back at home, the adoption process is finalized under domestic laws….

Pakistan's [embassy] in Ottawa … said Canada's claim that Pakistan doesn't allow for adoptions is simply false.

"We believe that the ban from the Canadian government is unjustified," commission press minister Nadeem Kiani said in an interview. "Citizens of Canada should be allowed to adopt children from Pakistan."

If you're interested, read the whole story, which offers many more details, including that "Canada quietly extended the same restriction to virtually all Muslim countries." My tentative sense (recognizing of course that I'm an American who specializes in American law, not a Canadian who specializes in Canadian law): It seems quite reasonable for a country to insist that international adoptions are consistent with both its own law and the other country's law. But the story describes a situation where the Canadian government relied on its own understanding of Sharia, rather than on what the Pakistani legal system actually provides; that strikes me as hard to justify. (Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.)