Invisible citizens: recognising Pakistan’s adopted children

Published: October 9, 2010
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Babies are abandoned almost daily at Edhi centers around Pakistan.

Six months ago, a friend of mine had to take her daughter to a child cardiologist, two days after her birth. When the doctor asked her if the child’s birth was natural or caesarian, she informed him that she did not know. He looked at her perplexedly and asked if the father might confirm. She said, promptly, as if this was rehearsed, “I do not know her father.” The fact is, my friend does not know her daughter’s father. She has never met him. Ditto her child’s biological mother. Her child’s genes are a mystery to her. Regardless, she is more her parent than anyone else on this planet. This means, she is spiritually and legally responsible for the baby’s well-being and feels an affinity with her that she says she has not yet felt with her own blood relations.

Adoption law – does anyone care?

Six months into becoming a parent, my friend has not been able to get a B form for her daughter, despite the fact that the court has awarded her full rights as a guardian of her little girl. Without getting into the spirit behind her rather unusual path to becoming a parent, let me give you all a short, brief summary of the perils of adoption in this country and how NADRA is single-handedly compelling many to seek the path of illegality to legitimise what are otherwise court-sanctioned children.

In Pakistan, there is no law that governs adoption. This does not mean that adoption is illegal; it simply means that there is no law to regulate this beautiful exercise. Like planting a garden in your own territory or engaging in the sale of silk, breathing and being are not regulated, but are legal. Similarly, adoption per se is not illegal.

However, the law that regulates the process of adoption itself is the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890. Although this act itself does not institutionalise adoption, it has sensitised our courts to adoption in Pakistan. The courts recognise that adoption provides a very important function in our society and has existed for a very long time. Although traditionally, it was restricted to within the family and by couples who could not have children, now it has extended to multi-faceted families, including single parents. Our courts have never stopped a single person from adopting a child, as long as the court has established the person’s good character and financial ability. The fact is, with the kind of poverty and overpopulation we have and the average number of infants being abandoned at birth rising weekly (if not daily), courts will have no moral foundation to deprive a child who has been abandoned on the street of a caring, loving and secure environment. What we do not have are scrutiny agencies, institutionalised NGOs and robust systems in place, thereby pushing adoption processes to be strictly private affairs. If the courts can make a robust analysis, we are still fine.

So this is how adoption is undertaken: Through the guardianship route. Once an individual is granted the guardianship of a child, the next natural step would be to get the child a Form B, so that the child can integrate into civil society. Here is where the travesty of justice takes place.

NADRA’s failure to protect children

Our central agency, NADRA, which is solely responsible for granting Form Bs to children, does not recognise guardianship. It refuses to acknowledge wards as legitimate and refuses to register adopted children under the name of the guardian, thereby forcing many to seek false birth certificates, marriages and fake parents to legitimise their children.

According to NADRA, if a child does not have any known parent, the child cannot be registered. NADRA has proven itself to be an agency which wants abandoned and destitute children to remain unregistered, unprotected and unable to exercise their fundamental rights, because they had the ill fortune to be abandoned by their natural parents.

Contempt of the court

Our children are our most cherished hope and asset. It should be the responsibility of the government and all its agencies to support and protect them. Millions of children can be taken off the street by caring, responsible adults who could protect them from exploitation. Failing to recognise many honourable court orders pushes NADRA further into contempt. Adoption and guardianship has to be recognised by NADRA so that they can assist, rather than hinder, programmes that support the development and protection of children. All children in any case have a right to equal opportunities for development, growth and civic amenities, all of which are denied to them because of their inability to get a Form B. NADRA has exposed itself to suo moto or a class-action lawsuit, for acting against the constitution (Article 25, equality before the law). It should act now and create a process that allows the registration of wards and adopted children, otherwise it will be guilty of serious contempt of court.

sharmeen.khan

Sharmeen Khan

A corporate lawyer who works in the private sector in Karachi.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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  • muhammad nayyer

    it’s a real tragedy & one of the biggest injustices of our society that the parents of adopted children can be recognised as guardians but not parents,after death the children can’t get the inheritance as the deceased parents were just their “guardians” & not parents.

    I heard maulvis on tv proclaiming that adoption isn’t allowed in our religion,that couples who can’t naturally have children are destined to remain childless,the best they can hope for is to be called “guardians” but never legally “parents”Recommend

  • Shahbaz

    it,s an apathy and national tragedy for all of us that,the illegtimate childs are the sign of illecit relations labour of love,pityful and a severe crime from social & Islamic point of view,Hence i'll definetly agree with you Nayyer on this point that the the difference between adoptation and as a Guardian's . well keep it up
    Recommend

  • amjad ahmad

    every couple has the right to become parents,be it biological or through adoption.our laws should come out of the dark ages & let the parents of adopted children have the title of “parents” legally.Recommend

  • Ghulam Ali

    Sharmeen, if you can write a letter in this regards addressed to the “Human Rights Cell” of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, explaining the fact that NADRA refuses to recognize Court-appointed guardians as such, and refuses Court-declared wards CNICs, there’s a good chance that something would be done about it. It’s certainly a deprivation of fundamental rights (right to life, broadly defined, read together with the policy directives about ‘family life’); and the question is one of public importance. The chances are, that so much as a letter, attached with a print-out of your own blog would work… i say this with some close-hand knowledge of how the system works…

    Nonetheless, the chances are even better if you get an SC lawyer to file a 183(3) petition in this regard, on behalf of some affectee… that’s the costlier option but definitely better…Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    This sounds horrible. Why on earth would NADRA do something so stupid and vile?!Recommend

  • sharmeen

    @Ghulam Ali:
    Thank you Mr. Ghulam Ali. That is a brilliant idea and I have asked my friend to actually approach the SC directly. This is a Human Rights issue. NADRA keeps stalling saying they need to invoke religion and consult an Alim, but no one is debating whether adoptive parents are the same as biological parents. That is a different debate. We are merely asking for registration of Pakistani Citizens. I do not see it as anything other than a violation of these childrens’ basic fundamental rights-the right to exercise their citizenship. Recommend

  • Hira Naqvi

    Its about basic Human Rights being taken away from adopted children, the right to own a CNIC and be recognized as a Pakistani Citizen. The Supreme Court should definitely take a suo motu action. Recommend

  • Ahmer

    Sadly, this reflects our society’s mindset, and the extremism which has seeped into every nook and corner. We have fueled hatred for just about everything, adoption, divorce, purdah, so much so that women’s place in our society is constantly being marginalized. If someone wants to give a better life to an abandoned infant, we must encourage and make it simpler instead of creating troubles for the person who is doing a good deed. That will solve half the problems we have at the momentRecommend

  • Shahbaz Ali-Khan

    Another very visible gap in the legislative framework for our country’s social needs. At the foreground is a society not known for it’s charity, spirit of giving or care for the fellow citizenry. At the background is a timid and somewhat outrageous feeling of apathy and shame at the issues surrounding so called ‘illegitimate’ birth.

    I think the time is ripe for structural reform in the legal system, and as such, the current supreme court set-up does at the face of it seem to be geared for that. So this should indeed be taken on and any support needed for this, I hope we can all lend our hand to. Please let us all know.Recommend

  • Mehnaz Aaly Abbas

    I can easily believe that about NADRA. Like most organizations/institutions in this country, NADRA is also being run by employees who want to take it easy in life, not really work or think and yet make money.
    It is absolutely necessary that the likes of us take this to the DG or whatever the “Sahb” in this registratration authority is called, to ask for a solution. Or is he following a rule book…..written by yet another Sahb?
    Easier said than done!
    This should be brought to limelight and it would be great to see something important like this, which affects thousands of abandoned children in our ever-growing poor nation and their few adopted parents, come to light as opposed to the generally idiotic cases we read about in the headlines (can’t go beyond the headlines!).Recommend

  • anonymous

    The sooner all sectors of Govt get on board, the more we can focus on the actual welfare of the children themselves and guidelines around adoption. Sadly, its always a case of admin policies and complications, as well as bad communication within each dept and sector.Recommend

  • sarah

    The issue sounds similar to what used to be NADRA’s idiotic stance towards intersex (‘hijras’) individuals; because they couldn’t identify such individuals in the ‘male’ or ‘female’ category, they weren’t recognized at all, and simply not issued ID cards. Which is part of the reason why they fail to find proper employment, open bank accounts etc. However, the good news is that the intersex ID card issue did make it to the Supreme Court and in 2009 the SC ordered the government and NADRA to begin issuing them NICs under a ‘third gender’ category. I hope that in line with this decision the case for recognition of adopted children can also be pursued and the SC can offers the much-needed and long over-due relief! Recommend

  • Saneeya

    Simply stating that adoption is not allowed in Islam is not enough~ Somebody needs to take action to enable an adopted child to have birth certification as would any other child!Recommend

  • farah

    I am adopted. I was adopted through Edhi and my parents made a fake birth certificate for me identifying themselves as my birth parents. Nadra’s stance seems to force people to lie to it, since people will continue to adopt kids. Why can Nadra not issue a guardian column I do not understand. I hope the SC does take this up as Ghulam says. Sharmeen tell your friend to take courage Recommend

  • SK

    We all know we have a bunch of baboons running the country and all it’s organizations- NADRA being one of them. I really hope this effort on your part works and NADRA comes to it’s senses, though I’m not sure it really possesses any. I mean, if the child is there, alive and kicking then it needs to be issued a birth certificate because obviously it has been born…Recommend

  • http://qalandari.blogspot.com Qalandar

    An excellent piece — it is high time a progressive adoption/guardianship regime was implemented. At the moment, it seems that despite the best intentions of the higher judiciary, NADRA is stymying the implementation of sensible policy, either out of idelogical hostility, or due to sheer inertai and cussedness. A country with so many destitute and vulnerable children in need of parental love and care can ill afford such a gap; not to mention that this system implicitly stigmatizes those parents who do adopt, by continually reminding them that they are not “real” parents.Recommend

  • Shehryar

    wow! very informative piece. this gives one so much food for thought – not to mention action! i never knew the authorities placed such hurdles in the path to such a noble act. yet another thing to be ashamed of in this country! sigh……and it’s funny (in a sad way) that whenever something totally contrary to common sense crops up, no-good, lazy-ass, dumb-as-f** pakistanis need to invoke religion to somehow sanction it. makes me want to scream! :-P Recommend

  • SF

    NADRA’s ineptitude and helplessness is mind boggling to me. I am one such guardian/ adoptive parent/parent …… whatever label they may want to pin on me, who has taken a child under my wing, and whom I fully intend to nurture and raise as a responsible, law abiding citizen of this country. The problem is right from the outset I am being coerced to lie … or bend the truth, while I want to teach my child what a beautiful word ‘adopted’ is, and how it brings together people and joins them into families. But NADRA does not know where to place me or my child. What do I do?Recommend

  • Louise Azzopardi

    When I helped a couple from Malta to adopt an abandoned child from Pakistan I had to be the temporary guardian of the child and adoption was only finalized in Malta which her is acceptable but there are other countries who do not accept this kind of arrangement. Alot of families even with children of their own can afford to raise up another child around the world and with little effort the world could be a better place for so many childrenRecommend

  • Ayesha

    Tell your friend to keep nurturing and loving her beautiful daughter and fighting for her right to “exist”. She and her daughter will get their sweet revenge when she receives her Nobel or Pulitzer prize as an international citizen and NADRA scrambles to provide her with an honorary citizenship. Seriously, only in Pakistan is living proof no guarantee for existence of life. We need to and shall fight for the rights of individuals to be counted and accepted as humans even if some columns in NADRA’s ingenious forms remain blank.Recommend

  • muneezeh

    I am astonished at the redtape behind NADRA. If a child is unregistered, he or she is the least protected. NADRA is not just leaving children destitute, but allowing cold people to do whatever with these kids. No registration, no official record, no FIR possible. The mind cringes at the horror behind NADRA’s ineptitude. WAKE UP NADRA. We cannot let EDHI do all your work for you. Allow registration for children, even if parents are unknown. Recommend

  • amna

    so..if a child is born with no known parents, he she has no right to be -that is what NADRA is saying? Recommend

  • tahir qadri

    sharmeen, my name is Tahir, I have faced major issues with NADRA in the past when i tried to register my kid’s maid-they refused to register her in Karachi because her father was dead and her mother’s id was not good enough for them-they wanted her to go their ancestral village. Please lets just take them to court. I am ready to start this petition with you. I will email you my contacts but this is outrageous. I hope someone brings this to the attention of Justice Sb.Recommend

  • zoya ali

    good luck changing the mindset of this banana republic NADRA. Ha, even the name is silly, NADRA. Can NADRA do anything, other than create issues for the poor people. Recommend

  • osman waheed

    This is a great piece – highlights yet another in the list of reasons we’ve become the Islamic Republic of Bananas. We should certainly put this issue to the notice of the Supreme Court. At the same time, the parliament, monkey-ridden as it is these days, is the constitutional legislative forum, and there are still a few enlightened souls haunting its corridors who would be willing to take this up. Pls let me know how i can help. Recommend

  • Mehreen

    It’s truly a travesty what NADRA is insinuatung, that children who are adopted do not actually ‘count.’ Well done, Sharmeen, for bringing this issue to the public’s attention and for wanting to take it further. It’s high time that the governement started to properly look after it’s citizens- each and every one. Recommend

  • saad pasha

    This is not just a HR issue, it is also contrary to the UNICEF principles. Article 8 of the UNICEF convention states that |
    Children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are. Governments should respect children’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties…Recommend

  • swaleha

    SC is most definitely going to take notice of this; please ensure you submit all details of the actual case and invoke the UNICEF. I know adoptive parents lie to NADRA frequently by creating fake birth certificates. But they need not do that if there were guardian ship columns. Recommend

  • saad pasha

    Article 8 of UNICEF Convention for Children rights: (Preservation of identity): Children have the right to an identity – an official record of who they are. Governments should respect children’s right to a name, a nationality and family ties-this is against UNICEF Conventions also. Recommend

  • Dr. Shireen K. Khan

    Hi Sharmeen,

    Your blogs are very informative. I have always liked your style of writing and putting forward issues and subjects inthe most easy and readable manner…

    I empathize with the adoptive parents and the children, however, as with many issues (like child abuse and child labor) there are some sort of legalities in place but implementation is either poor or non-existent. UNICEF is aware of the issue as are other International forms like Save the Children SOS etc..but we need to create awareness on a local platform.

    Would it help to have awareness meetings/seminars with the key persons in the Government as well as Women’s groups? Maybe the Pakistan Pediatric Association (Child Rights and Child Abuse section) can help out too? If you like I can contact them when I am next in Pakistan..

    Keep up the good work! I hope to see you soon :)Recommend

  • Khawar karim

    It is very unfortunate that the law at every step encourages you to lie and prepare forged documents. I have frequently met people who if doing the right thing are badly trapped in the jigsaw puzzle and are swearing one affidavit after another. Where as those who turn to forgery and lies are laughing all the way. Nevertheless its about time that we all wake up to the reality but again is our incompetent parliament and government likely .to take any action on it. I don’t think so unless one of their family members takes this road or you know someone at a right place then no one would dare ask you a question.

    It’s all good work and a step in the right direction, for the sake of humanity. I know it’s very frustrating but i shall advise you to be patient and persistent and you shall get the reward one day. Inshallah.Recommend

  • for ma

    Hi Sharmeen. Thank you for your support of the adoptive issues in Pakistan and especially in the case of guardianships/adoption …every child has the right to an identity, be it biological or adoptive and to citizenship, which basically gives a person rights of a country.
    I also know of many people who have listed their adoptive children as their biological children and Nadra has, if not deliberately then in many ways, abetted the act by not being clear…a woman may also not be listed as guardian as it is unheard of (Father’s name column is evident only). Many people are also avoiding NADRA because of prior experiences of other adoptive parents and also because in order to avoid a). discrimination in our society b). Nadra’s racial discrimation of their child in the data they are supposedly creating but have not done so to date (One parent was told their adoptive daughter would have to list her natural father’s name at 16 else she would not get her NIC!!!! – considering her parents are unknown, what will they ever think of to write!!! – the parents were horrified that their child would have to have embarassment at the hands of these callous, unfeeling people) c). Then there is the ‘we have no column for guardian’ answer /hassle and thereby long wait of ‘we are working on it answer’ so…no identity. Nadra recently announced that a ‘B’ form is also required for schools to register a child. How does a child who has no registration of any nature acquire : a). NIC b). Passport c). Education d). Healthcare e). Insurance f). a drivers license e). Bank Account f). Properties from a guardian in case of his/her death g). Marriage certificate…etc, etc, etc…
    If the Noble Court can give a guardianship based on vetting of applicant, while abiding all laws and keeping the child’s future in mind why does NADRA have so much cause to interfere in what the law has already clarified. We need to stop terrorism in all forms, if a person doesn’t have any rights because he doesn’t have an NIC and then chooses to do whatever for who ever will promise him one…are we surprised! Please wake up, our children, biological or not are our future… Help them, help us. Recommend

  • Shujaat Ali

    Sharmmen has initiated a “Movement ” which will surely gather momentum.
    It is an act of courage and nobility to adopt a child. No less a person than our beloved prophet Mohammad (PBUH)had set an example by adopting a son (Hazrat Zaid RA)Only the ignorant state that it is not allowed in Islam.

    NADRA clearly appears as the villain in the piece. I following routes to be taken simultaneously:

    A formal letter to be written to DG NADRA,with a copy of all the comments on this blog.
    Letters to the president, PM and the CJP to take notice of NADRA’s idiocy. A copy of this letter to be published in newspapers.
    Petition be filed in the SC as suggested by Mr Tahir Qadri.
    Approach HRCP
    A suitably worded adverisement in a newspaper to draw wide attention of this issue.
    Well done Sharmeen. Your parents must be proud of you.
    Recommend

  • zeenat

    a very well written article.Adoption is such a beautiful gesture towards an orphaned,unwanted,abandoned child.Nadra has to move and make it easier for all those lovely people who are giving home to a child who otherwise would end up anywhere.
    keep it up sharmeen ,there are many who are as concerned about this .good luckRecommend

  • Barbara

    Adopted children deserve the same recognition as biological children. This is a universal right for a child. Children, are our future. Good luck.Recommend

  • Aafia

    Yes, it’s a serious issue which needs to be resolved not only for the childrens’ sake but also for the protection of our nation. Wake up NADRA, the party’s over!Recommend

  • Salman Khan

    Wake up NADRA!

    It is unbelievable that in this day and age, our so called ‘state-of-the-art’ public registration system is unable to recognize otherwise perfectly normal Pakistani children as ‘legitimate’ citizens of the country – just because identity of both the parents is unknown!

    Looks like our government is oblivious of the fact that there are a large number of people who are ‘single parents’ (both men and women) for various reasons. Many of them (with kind hearts!) have taken the initiative to adopt these little children who have either lost their biological parents in an unfortunate incident or abandoned by them, and are likely to be deprived of basic necessities of life if they are to be left alone.

    Don’t the orphans of Pakistan’s earthquake or recent floods deserve a better and secure life? If the answer is YES, then we must raise our voices to change the faulty system. We must recognize and appreciate those foster parents who take on the responsibility to help these kids. Single Parents must be recognized and affected children must be isuued proper identities.

    Its time for us Pakistanis to bring about all those positive changes to our society which will bring us at par with the rest of the world.

    Wake up…NADRA… Its time to act!Recommend

  • ismet kamal

    I strongly feel that if a woman, who is financially stable and would make an excellent parent but for some reason does not get married and wants to be a single parent, thus decides to adopt a child should be allowed to do so in the EYES of so called Nadra and be given a ‘B form. for her adopted child. Who the hell is Nadra when the court has decided she is the Guardian of the child.
    Pakistan is spilling over with abandoned and orphaned children. Should they become thiefs, prostitutes and pimps because they have no identity or because religion is used as an excuse. Do they not deserve a decent home. It should not make a difference whether a woman is married or not since most of the time in our society it is the women who look after the children even when they are working.
    Every person or child has the right to a legal status in any society. A lot of laws in this country are archaic and need to be changed. If u do not know who your parent was then so be it that is the bottom line which so called Nadra is using but then nadra has given ‘B forms’ to people who have done it illegally but if someone is trying to use correct and honest measures, they are not allowed to do so.
    If Nadra laws cannot be ammended then i think we need to think of changing the law makers. We have to think of the future of this country and the future is the children whoever they maybe. I feel foster parents need to be commended whether married or single for taking steps to give a child a bright future who may otherwise not have one.
    The reason as a society we are failing fast is because too many stumbling blocks along the way. It is the wake up call to the hippocrates in this society even Angelina Jolie has spoken.Recommend

  • leone

    I cannot imagine that NADRA would be so blind to the plights of these children. Is NADRA going to stop the abandonment of children by creating this hurdle, is it going to stop the birth of unwanted babies? does NADRA expect Edhi to take care of all the children that are ever born and abandoned? What is it that NADRA wants? perhaps it is simply inability, without malice. Perhaps NADRA too wants a court direction, being too uninspired to take action on its own. SHARMEEN WRITE TO TO CJP. Recommend

  • Dr. F Sohail

    I came across this on facebook. I am not adopted , nor do I plan to ever adopt. But despite this, I feel that this is really a frustrating hurdle, one that can be easily addressed. Across the world, in order to register a child, a parent or guardian document is sufficient. I can say, (I am a doctor) a pediatrician can certify the Birth of a Child on paper and estimated date and that can be the basis of a birth certificate. Failing to register a child for not knowing parents for ever stigmatizes a child. That is an affront and against the spirit of ISLAM. Recommend

  • http://www.kidvai.blogspot.com/ zakintosh

    It’s important that we take this up as a serious issue with the SC and get them to look into this law. They can make NADRA change their stand legally.Recommend

  • Behzad

    This is absolutely befuddling to know that NADRA is not willing to support parents who have willingly embraced children that have been abandoned by their birth parents. It’s a shame that unnecessary obstacles are being placed to deprive adopted children of their basic civil rights. Adoption is a gratifying and beautiful practice that should be encouraged and cherished. Recommend

  • Moin Mohajir

    I am shocked that NADRA does not support parents who have chosen this noble path of great significance for humanity. It’s a shame that just as done in other such causes, unnecessary hurdles are being placed to deprive adopted children of their basic civil rights. Adoption is a great practice that should be encouraged at all costsRecommend

  • Nabia Lakhani

    I agree with Zakintosh. This is a serious matter and like all other serious matters, let’s not overlook this one. Adopted or not.. the child has a right to choose their parents and if their adoptive parents are what they want.. who are we to judge or raise a point at?As long as those children are getting love and a home and a future.Don’t we all want that too. Coming from a family of lawyers, I’m sure we can help in whatever way it is possible. Let me know.Recommend

  • The Lone Walker

    This is just yet another addition to the long list of Pakistan’s structural, institutional and legal flaws. Adoption is a blessing, not just for the child and/or the parents, but to society as a whole. And something like this which should have the full faith and support of the governments and the courts and all associated institutions, is instead turned into a mockery of sorts. Not only do parents have to deal with a barrage of questions but also have to go through some tiresome and contemptuous procedure where the outcome is nothing. This country needs some major changes. It would definitely be a move in the right direction if adoption law and procedure is given some serious consideration and the implied changes come to fruition. Then, just maybe, the bleak outlook of this nation can seem a little brighter. Recommend

  • Aaliya Javed

    This article truly highlights one of several social issues that must given some serious consideration.NADRA needs to be cleansed of their ‘setthia’ mentality and the SC should bring in the necessary changes to make adoption a boon and not make its proceedings a bane. Recommend

  • Lubna Haroon

    The Supreme Court has to take this issue up ,as a nation we have a habit of dehumanizing issues, children need an identity, care and stability , and I salute those people who selflessly provide this, Nadra is an incompetent department run by the brainless,its almost as if the want to push this issue under the rug, just another example of the problems we face.Recommend

  • Basma Azfar

    wake up Pakistan! noble is too humble a word to describe the act eidhi does for these little angels left behind in the darkness of the night , transporting them from those shadows into hearts & homes illuminating with love and nurturing care by parents – longing for children. These parents give them an an identity and stability that their birth right parents so selfishly forgo- Adoption has left me speechless! its about time Pakistan stood up and questioned the who and whats of this so called “taboo” and set things right- it is after all our human right! Recommend

  • Basma Azfar

    i cant fathom why Pakistan would deny him/her their birth right of an identity! Recommend

  • Farah Shams Khan

    It is unfortunate that there is no system in place in Pakistan to provide welfare and protection to the less fortunate ones in society. Adoption is an act of extreme generosity and goodwill and the government must go an extra mile to support those who adopt.

    These special children must be given all the rights just like others and provision must be made to integrate them into the legal system.

    If these children do not get the ‘Bay Form’ how will they be legal citizens of their home country?

    Therefore, NADRA should not need to be approached by so many people to take a sensible decision in this regard. They should use their better sense!!!! Recommend

  • dr mariam salman

    well i persoanlly think if nadra has issues registering them under the normal data base then they should add a section tht says guardian. now tht guardian can be a couple or a single parent. one should not be denied identity because of the sole reason tht they have been adopted by a single parent.
    i strongly support adoption and we should not deny these kids a good nd loving environment just because they were abandoned by their own parents for any reason whtsoever.Recommend

  • Saima Khan

    This is ridiculous. Instead of encouraging the act of adoption in the spirit of humanity and generosity, NADRA is making life impossible for both the adoptees and the parents. When we are faced with the twin problems of overpopulation/unwanted babies and childless couples or singletons wishing for a child, shouldn’t we be doing the exact opposite?? When the act itself is legally recognised, there is absolutely no reason why these children shouldn’t be given access to proper paperwork. Recommend

  • Anam R.

    well done for shedding light on such an important issue. perhaps if enough of us make a noise about this NADRA may actually take notice… Recommend

  • afia n

    I did not know this. I know there was plenty wrong with our country, but there were plenty of right things too. Last year, the Hn’ble Sc recognizing the rights of the third gender had instructed NADRA to issue them ID cards. and it had happened. This issue will also be addressed. the optimist in me says that Sharmeen’s highlighting of this issue will lead to the same course. Recommend

  • Sheila Wasti

    EVERYONE, ISLAM ALLOWS ADOPTION. This is something we must recognize and accept. This is a procedural issue only ; one that can and will be addressed. There is no bar on guardianship or adoption. The only thing you cannot do is to allow an adopted child to inherit. SO THERE IS NO PROBLEM. WHat NADRA is probably doing is giving in to technical difficulties. this is inexcusable ; i hope DG NADRA takes note of this urgently. letting a woman stay helpless is a violation of all sensibilties. I am willing to sign any petition about this to help us force NADRA to act quickly. Recommend

  • Anisa Mehmood Khan

    What would it take for Nadra to take notice? A friend of mine, who adopted a baby girl is also Single. Her child is a star pupil in a local school and very happy well adjusted. She has the full attention of a loving mother and her mother’s parents. If my friend had not adopted her, literally from the streets, this child may have been selling flowers in front of copper kettle, saying please please please. She has been saved from begging and possibly abuse. But my friend is utterly helpless and has not adopted a second child for fear of being stuck in face of NADRA. This little girl is unregistered but does not realize it yet. She cannot go anywhere, cannot get a bank account, etc. It is a tragedy. Recommend

  • saleem agha

    it is a tragedy that NADRA is rushing to give afghan refugees cards but fails to register its own citizens. DOes anyone realize the security threat this itself is? NADRA has to act. and it has to ACT FAST. I am surprised they have not moved on this yet. WHat is preventing them? What would it take, public humiliationRecommend

  • zafeer abbassi

    I think plenty has been stated. I support action. I am a tax paying adult in this country and I say, NADRA has to do something, and it is my right to demand this. MY VOTE IS IN for this. count me in SharmeenRecommend

  • Khurram Rashid

    As i come on this page, I see a hungry child’s picture in one of the posts; daily we see hungry desperate children on the street. I think a Human who adopts a child and raises a child and becomes responsible for a child is to be celebrated. Not condenmed by this kind of red tape. Not only should NaDRa immediately set up a guardian column, other bodies in this country should also celebrate adoption. WE should start an adoption drive in this country. People who have adopted should be considered as heroes and heroines. They should get tax exemptions and credit. Recommend

  • Sabiha Alwy

    Thank you for raising this issue! Children were being adopted and fake birth certificates made by adopted parents, causing guilt in the parent and a state of confusion in the mind of the child when she was told that she has been adopted… what to believe the birth certificate or parent’s story…. I have seen shattered children.

    Adding the word guardian to the B form can solve so many problems.
    I am a psychologist and have seen so many such cases, if you need narratives to help build your case please do not hesitate to email.Recommend

  • noshi asif

    So you mean there is no identification through the new parents? what sort of idiots dream stuff like this up…Dont tell me…I know! as usual nothing changes here but what i dont understand is WHY NOT! is this particular issue something to do with their religious hang-ups? As usual most pakistani people cannot jump over any barrier that has the word religion stamped on it…
    They cant bring themselves to change something because they THINK it will go against their religion???? I know a lot of people who seem to think that way.
    Other things too…a family who adopted a daughter at birth. But when she got married, nowhere on the card was the word “daughter”. They could not bring themselves to print “our beloved daughter” on the wedding cards. They simply wrote “our beloved [name]”
    Its also a racist question. Again I know countless people who would never consider taking in someone who was not of their “blood”…..[their children, daughters in law and pets have to be of “pure” breed…
    In a world where one proportion of people cant have children and another proportion have no parents…..only fools would fail to recognize a natural pattern that just falls into place…….Instead they churn out nauseating reasons NOT to adopt……..They are and will continue to be unfortunate if this goes on. And none of these problems to do with paperwork will get put right properly until the general mentality about adoption changes. Taboos and prejudice about this should be thrown out forcibly and obliterated without mercy. NOT handled with kid gloves . Only then can anyone move on unhampered…Recommend

  • sadia

    i am completely in favour of this cause.children are the future of the world.if abondoned children due to different circumstances can be offered a protective and healthy environment then it should be fully supported instead of putting hurdles in the procees.it is an old saying that a person who brings up a child is more than a biological parent.provided that the child is really given a safe environment.we know the level of corruption in this world where children are the main target of abuse in different ways.but,with a good background check if somebody takes up the responsibilty of bringing up a child(adopt a child) should not be discouraged and should be given all the support possible.if form B is the requirement for giving the name to the child what better gesture would it be to make someone as your own,that way a child would be brought up in a healthy environment knowing he belongs to someone who are his parents and not just gaurdian.and this feeling of belonging to each other is a bliss.Recommend

  • Sanam Thariani

    This is a complete travesty of justice, but one that has been around for as long as I can remember. NADRA compounds the complex issue of adoption further by denying these children an identity, pushing people into a situation where fake birth certificates become the answer, and a very easy one at that. Without a B form, access to a passport and an NIC is not possible and now schools require the B form for admission. NADRA may as well put up a notice telling people not to adopt. This is a complete violation of these childrens’ basic fundamental rights to be recognised and be given an identity as citizens of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sameera Raja

    This is ludicrous…so,if a child does not have “known” parents, the child has to bear the stigma of being illegitimate AND unregistered? I know a number of adopted children , who have passports etc.How did they get registered?Maybe there is some information missing here.Recommend

  • Talat Rahim

    This is a very good deed indeed, for which all mothers/fathers who have adopted children will be rewarded not only in this world but the hereafter. Who on earth is raising a voice against it and WHY?Need to get their head examined !!!!! Recommend

  • Alayna

    I don’t understand why NADRA is creating such problems over this issue. Surely it is only a case of adding another column to a form – is that really so difficult? If the only thing holding them back is a lack of people making a fuss about it, then I say let’s all stand up and MAKE A FUSS!!!Recommend

  • Fizza Sarwar

    My best friend is adopted but her parents had to make fake paperwork for her because they couldn’t get her a passport. Why do these laws force us into illegal things simply because there is no legal way to do them?? How can you deny children the most basic right – to be acknowledged as people?Recommend

  • munni

    it is good to see that you taking a stance in this. there are umpteen other issues too…I hope you will succeed in all yr endeavours. good luckRecommend

  • tariq

    The laws regarding adoption should be drafted by the concerned authorities to give these children their rights as a citizen & the kind adoptive parents a smooth pathway to undertake a great humane task. These processes need to be supported rather than hindered by the powers that be.Recommend

  • Sadaf Munir

    I agree completey with what the author has brought to our notice. This is a serious social issue which needs to be addressed, looking at how the society presently is changing and single parenthood is becoming a norm. It also provides an opportunity for all the children who are given up by their biological parents due to various reasons, to be raised in loving, nurturing homes. These children must have legal rights so that they may thrive in their adoptive environments, therefore ensuring a healthy psyche and character. Our local government and administrative authorities show severe lack of sensitivity and sincerity in this delicate issue. It is then our responsibility as active, thinking members of a society to raise our voices in an organised and effective manner. Hence, as a united body we will be able to bring about a positive change in peoples thought processess and consequently influence legislation. Sustained dialogue at various forums is required to bring about this change.

    In my own family there are several well adjusted adopted children. Their parents probably also had to go through the hassle of not being able to register their adopted children, and resort to other means to register them.

    Lets try and make life easier for our children!Recommend

  • Salma Faruqi

    It is high time NADRA should seriously get their act together and look into this matter, and register these children. Why have they not already done so, when children have been adopted, or courts have awarded their guardianships for many years in Pakistan It is not rocket science, does anyone really know what is stopping them from doing the needful? Can anyone from NADRA answer this query?

    This should not even be an issue for adoptive parents and guardians …. NADRA is just being lazy!!!Recommend

  • Rabea Chaudhary

    This is a tragedy. Innocent children should not be left without parents. Recommend

  • Saima Ghazzanfar

    In a country where abandoning kids is becoming a ritual , and we often even hear a baby being put in the bag and thrown in the nearby “nala” ; it is a shame that we are not even ready to facilitate and encourage adoption. Wake up NADRA, these babies deserve a normal, healthy and happy life . Change the system, its about our future generations .Recommend

  • Khalid Shaikh

    Aren’t the children, whose biological parents cannot be traced, citizens or members of human society? Don’t they have the right to live, get education, have jobs, travel, achieve and thrive?
    Is this bureaucratic technicality or religious belief issue… in either case it defeats common sense and basic human values. I find it extremely disturbing and painful!Recommend

  • Nausheen Abedin

    Nadra needs to really wake up and start the process of recognizing these people and issuing them passports.Recommend

  • http://[email protected] noor muhammad soomro

    this topic was very good and for the next time kindly send me such type of reports
    thanksRecommend

  • Sannia Malik

    This is deplorable behavior on NADRA’s part and change MUST be instituted immediately. We, as Pakistanis, must learn to nurture all of our nation’s children, only then will we see a change in the sad state of affairs that is now called Pakistan. Without them, there is no future for Pakistan. This needs to be heard by the Supreme Court as soon as possible.Recommend

  • Nusrat Munshi

    This is quite shocking indeed and violation of basic human rights. I sincerely hope that this blog can raise enough support so that this issue is highlighted in the Supreme court and gets immediate resolution. Adoption is a wonderful concept, and should be supported not hindered!Recommend

  • Farhat

    This blog has brought to light something extremely shocking…. Nadra shld definitely recognize these children and realize this gross violation of human rights. I am 100percent behind this cause and hope and pray that the supreme court takes notice of this and resolves the matter in favor of these children…. Recommend

  • ambreen

    I wonder what has been done regarding this blasphemy. Any attempts to contact amnesty international??? Who is Nadira and the policy makers, that they would comfortably ignore this issue. The same people who’s ego’s may not be satisfied unless have their own and would never consider adopting. I just know that there is always someone who can do something about policies like these and if anyone has the time to investigate the matter.Recommend

  • Irma

    Adoption is such a noble deed, and I am proud of all those parents, mums and dads who go on to adopt babies. I am saddened at the response of NADRA in Pakistan. I appeal wholeheartedly to whoever is at the top most authoritative position in NADRA to look into this, and make the change all parents are awaiting, to be able to adopt these babies legally and for them to have equal rights as all other children born in Pakistan. Have a Heart….Recommend

  • Anonymous

    This is horrendous. So what NADRA wants is for these children to remain faceless!Recommend

  • atiyaagha

    its so sad to know that we argue n talk abt the cruelities of life n not do anything abt it or in other words ,just talk and keep talking and dont do anything abt the crude issues of life like this one,i know that pakistan n its agencies are so busy saving pakistan from foriegn elements but how abt saving the children future no matter how small we r in number but we ask agencies of pakistan that plz help thoes struggling in giving thoes children a name who have been abandoned,every child who is alive, has a right to breath has a right to the common laws of society like a sur name,why do we have to cheat the system by proving that these abandoned children are our biological when they r not…what abt single mothers who want to adpot n have taken these children as their own n given them shelter,name,family,smile,happiness n r ready to support them in every walk of their lives,instead of helping these moms n parents , Nadra is creating issues,we should all n especially law makers should help erase these useless columns n lines in the B form n nadra application to make it easy to give these chilren the right to enjoy life ,travel.Recommend

  • tania malik

    we all talk about helping others in one way or the others so lets help nadra in amending its forms and making it aware how important it is for the parents these birth forms are, which nadra very conveniently has not given importance to. The very essential columns which give life to the abandoned children of PakistanRecommend

  • nida malik

    Nadra,make ur forms simplier n easy for the people who r ready to take steps in removing children off the streets n making pakistan future bright.make life easy n simple.Recommend

  • Roohi Mahmood

    Its so sad to hear such realities of our society. Truly we are the Blessed ones but unfortunately we cannot share so many blessings with less unfortunate.
    Due to such hurdles so many children are left orphans. There are so many people who would like to perform act of kindness but are weakened by the thought of our legal policies.
    Adoption should be made easier so both parent and child can have secure future.Recommend

  • Safia

    Nadra is being biased in its approach to the simple problem of registration of adopted children, Rules being followed by NADRA are man made rules, which can be amended to suit the needs of the times. There is no reason or justification why this is not being done in the case of adopted childrenRecommend

  • Yahya Faruqui

    This is a very interesting topic and like everyone here, I agree it needs to be pursued seriously. I see some nice suggestions/ offers for assistance here. Sharmeen, would you be taking up this matter further? and write again on the progress? Pls. keep us posted.

    If you need any assistance to raise awareness, follow up with courts, talk to NADRA etc. would be happy to help. Recommend

  • Raza

    It is appalling that by not laying down clear rules for adopted children, NADRA is forcing the guardians to take on an illegal route which promotes corruptionRecommend

  • Anila

    It is sad that NADRA is not doing anything to support such a wonderful and noble act. I hope that NADRA recognizes this anomaly and amends its rules in the near future Recommend

  • nazli sajjad

    I think it is about time that Nadra should step up and take responsibility in giving B form to the babies who have been adopted.I have a great admiration for the people who adopt,they are doing a wonderful job in raising these kids who did not have any home.The kids should not be deprived of their legal rights.They have a right to belong to some one they can call a parent.Recommend

  • Zeba Rizvi

    Though our children are not old enough to speak up for themselves, they have full rights and deserve to be heard. Laws and society should work together to help those who are trying to give their love and commitment to powerless children – children who could face many more hardships in their lives if never reached out to. This is truly a noble cause. Please let the world see that we are enlightened enough to give these basic rights to our children.Recommend

  • saima

    How is it that one branch of Goverment fails to recognise the other !!?when the courts recognise Adoption then why is NADRA creating all these Hindrances in the legal procedure!!? NADRA needs to literally get its act straight !!and realise the basic rights of any human being .Everyone has the right to an Identity! Recommend

  • Anita Turab

    I remember talking to the present Chairman NADRA about this issue about a year ago and his response was that NADRA is planning to allow registration of abandones children with President of Pakistan in the father’s column!!!
    I was not sure if he was being funny because this kind of frivolous resolution to a serious problem which will affect someone for their entire life. Once again we prove our insensitivity towards babies who need nurturing and care…like someone rightly said…all children are our assets.Recommend

  • http://www.faisalkhan.com Faisal Khan

    I know many folks who have adopted. Reading this article literally infuriated me as to how obtuse our vision is when it comes to adopted children.

    Our politicians and bureaucrats (on the majority) do not work to do anything with the system that makes it more accommodating and beneficial to others.

    Issues like these need to not only be addressed but also be resolved within a specific time frame.

    A friend of my who adopted a baby girl at the age of 4 months, finally got her passport and papers made at the age of almost 3 1/2 years old. It pains me to see that our system has no value of our time nor of the wonderful parents who adopt and just yearn to live a normal life, like everyone else – equal standing.Recommend

  • Hafsa Shamsie

    such is the sad state of affairs here….instead of encouraging people to adopt children who have no hope of a better life – especially if they were to grow up being dependant on the state, things are made more difficult for such kind-hearted people…… My question is are’nt these children born in Pakistan and dont they belong to this country??? if so, shouldnt they be recognised legal citizens REGARDLESS of who their parents are or were?Recommend

  • Basir Shamsie

    When I first heard of this issue with NADRA a few years ago and that it was being pursued, I could never have imagined that it still lingers and keep continue to suffer, lie etc. They are citizens of Pakistan who are getting a chance to be productive members of society, through just about the greatest gift fellow citizens of Pakistan can give to the state.

    Can the SC wake up and resolve!!!Recommend

  • ZK

    My sister who is single aopted a baby girl. We as a family are so proud of her and the love and effort she is putting into raising her daughter. I think of her as my neice and she is a part of our family now. That is why I get so angry and frustrated when I hear about this issue. As far as I am concerned she is her mother and not a gaurdian. She should be able to get all the support she needs from any Govt. agency to make the process as legal as possible. My neice should have legal status…. Give these parents and especially the kids all the support they need.Recommend

  • HO

    how can NADRA act so ridiculous?! its obvious that these children have been born in pakistan so they have a right to be identified as pakistani citizens regardless of whether they are adopted or not. isn’t NADRA also contradicting UNICEF convention for children’s rights also?adding a guardian column in their database shouldn’t be that big an issue that they’re refusing to register these children, right?Recommend

  • Saima Qizilbash

    Maybe NADRA thinks these court approved guardians and their wards are just going to evaporate in thin air, or finally give in and lie on the NADRA forms just so they can get on with the rest of their lives, and stop bothering NADRA and demanding they change something that really, they should have though of when they were designing their registration form. Because really, you know, it is sooooo hard to add a guardian column with no gender bias, and register these children. How can we possibly do this without bringing down heaven and earth, invoking religion, consulting aalims, asking for advice from various other Muslim countries (some of which have very archaic laws), etc. etc. Using simple common sense is alien to us.
    NADRA, if there is an actual, REAL issue, and not a nonsensical one where an abandoned child is required to produce his/her biological fathers name out of thin air, please enlighten us!!!Recommend