Custody of children of unknown parentage in the UAE
Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 Concerning Child Rights, also known as Wadeema's Law (PDF, 250 KB) mentions that a child who is deprived of his or her natural family, has the right to an alternative care through a foster family, or a public or private social welfare institution, if a foster family is not available.
Federal Law No. 1 of 2012 on the Custody of Children of Unknown Parentage (PDF in Arabic, 4.34 MB) lays down the provisions for caring for the 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.
Ministry of Community Development (MoCD) in coordination with Ministry of Interior supervises the child care homes of and ensure proper foster families for the children.
As per above Federal Law No.1 of 2012, the child care home chooses a full name for the abandoned child. Birth certificate and other identification papers must not reveal in any way that the child is of unknown parentage. However, the foster family must reveal the real lineage to the foster child, in coordination with MoCD.
Contact MoCD if you and your family wishing to foster a child of unknown parentage.
Criteria for choosing foster families
A foster couple or family must:
- be Muslim, Emirati and be residing in the UAE
- not be younger than 25 years of age
- not have been convicted of offences or crimes involving moral turpitude
- be free of infectious diseases or psychological and mental disorders
- have the ability to support its members and the foster child financially
- undertake to treat and raise the child in a proper manner and take care of his/her health and well-being.
Note: A single, divorced or widowed Muslim Emirati female, residing in the UAE may apply to embrace a child if she is at least 30 years old and able to support the child financially.
What should you do if you find an abandoned child?
If you find an abandoned child, take him or her to the nearest police station immediately and hand him or her to the police. Let the child be in the clothes he or she was wearing when you found him or her. Also, hand over the things found with or near him or her.
Other authorities that provide child care homes
The following entities provide child care homes
Read about Embrace programme in Dubai.