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Saving Syria’s Children

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.


  1. It seems to me in a time of war that we could figure out a way to protect more of these children even improve their situation given their traumas.. put a system in place so that children can be registered and moved to a suitable home for safety and education, then returned when the time is such everyone agrees it is in the best interest of the child. A parent can make the committment to raise the child per the religion and culture, customs of their home country with the goal to provide a temporary safety net for the child. All children are too precious to just disreguard them as collateral damage, etc.


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