Adopting the Right Approach

Vol 4 - Issue 4 Adopting the Right approachLove is one of the noblest and most uncomplicated emotions mankind has been gifted with, because it comes straight from the heart. It transcends many barriers and alters our misguided thinking that true love and affection for a child comes only through the umbilical cord.

The whole process of adoption involves an emotional challenge to the parents giving up their child, those adopting and, of course, the child himself. It is a mixture of fear, anxiety, anticipation and joy.

The first hurdle faced by adopting parents is the unawareness of the Islamic concept of adoption and the places from where they can adopt. After the adopting parents undergo a long emotional wait, the couple finally adopts a child and brings him home. They are eager to start their long loving relationship; however, more challenges are yet to come. Certain factors hamper the relationship between an adopted child and his foster parents – abuse and neglect towards the child from the parents’ relatives and the public, the child’s battles with a hereditary illness or abnormality and, hence, difficulties finding playmates of his age who would accept him. Once the child grows up and realizes that he is adopted, he might undergo a trauma of feeling that his identity is challenged. Adoptive parents are sometimes emotionally shattered when the child expresses the desire to reunite with his biological parents. Another factor that strains the relationship between the adopted children and their parents is the birth of biological children. Due to this, many parents and adopted children stand helpless in failing relationships, not knowing what to do.

Solutions to such problems exist. Some parents seek the help of counseling, while others deal with these problems naturally, just as any regular parents would with their own biological children. One must not become paranoid. Instead, remember that many problems adopted kids experience have nothing to do with the fact of adoption. Rather, it is probably due to their inborn nature, temperament or heredity.

I am, Alhumdulillah, myself a proud mother of an adopted baby. He is still too small to face the challenges I have mentioned. However, it is in human nature to be anxious about the future. The following observations have helped me prepare myself and will, Insha’Allah, help also others (who have taken on or are considering adoption) to deal with such challenges, when the time comes.

The adoptive parents and children must learn to regard each other as their own children and parents. They must know that even though they are not related biologically, they can get connected strongly through love and affection.

Their relationship must be based on trust. It is strongly suggested that the adoptive parents tell their children the truth about their adoption.They should break the news in such a way that their children understand and are not hurt. This must be done at an age, when the child will understand what he is being told.

The strength in our relationship with our children emanates from communication that is open and free. Every opportunity to discuss adoption, the child’s roots and his feelings about being adopted should be taken at the appropriate time.

The child should be discouraged from holding ill feelings towards his natural parents for abandoning him (if that was the case). Rather, encourage the child to forgive and make Dua for them, wherever they may be.

Treat every obstacle as a trial from Allah (swt). Deal with it positively seeking Allah’s (swt) help at all times and making lots of Dua.

If the biological parents appear and claim their child, be prepared to return the child to them, as Islamically it is their right. Be grateful that Allah (swt) let you experience the joy for a short while.

Always go the straight way as far as possible. Do not make a fake birth certificate / documents of the child or do anything else that is illegal. Give the child his own name, if he has one, as that is his birth right.

The adoptive parents should ward off the negative remarks towards their children and must assure them that they are always there to love them.

The relationship between the adopted children and their parents may be strained by the appearance of the biological children. Children will often feel insecure or neglected by the birth of a baby to their parents. An easy method for solving these troubles in the relationship is an open talk. Parents must explain to their adopted children that the newborn baby is their brother or sister. They must treat both children equally, as far as the Islamic law permits (for example, they cannot give the adopted child their name nor a part of the inheritance; rather, they may give him / her one third of their property at the most as a gift before their death) and encourage their relatives or friends to treat them the same.

Although they will always be special, never treat them any different than you would your own biological child. Do not spoil them or pity them excessively. Doing this may result in the child becoming overly conscious of his position, and he may take advantage by becoming spoilt or rebellious.

The adopted children and their parents must realize that their relationship is the most special addition to their lives. This understanding will eliminate the pain that some adopted children and their parents may experience at some point in their lives.

Lastly, as with all problems we face even while raising our own biological children, the greatest help and support during rough times comes from Allah (swt). Therefore, we constantly need to turn to Allah (swt) for help and guidance. Insha’Allah, Allah (swt) will make the experience of taking a little one into our homes pleasurable and rewarding!

Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta)

Ummul-MumineenName: Zaynab Bint Jahash

Kunniyat: Ummul-Hakam

Father: Jahash Bin Raab

Mother: Umayma Bint Abdul-Muttalib

Clan: Banu Hashim

Family: Asad Bin Khuzaymah

Tribe: Quraish

Birth: 590 CE

Death: 20 AH – 643 CE

If any woman has had to face controversy, scandal, slander and all manners of finger pointing, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). And if any woman has emerged from it all not only unscathed but with flying colours, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). And if any woman was chosen by Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa) to be an agent of change in eradicating deep rooted customs of Jahiliyah and launching an Islamic social fabric, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta).

Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta) was the Prophet’s (sa) first cousin, her mother Umayma being the daughter of Abdul-Muttalib. She came from one of the noblest families of the Quraish, and everyone expected her eventually to marry a man with the same high social status. However, the Prophet (sa) himself arranged her marriage to Zaid Bin Harith (rta), whose background was very different from Zaynab (rta).

Zaid (rta) was taken prisoner as a child during an inter-tribal war before Islam. He was sold as a slave to a nephew of Khadijah (rta), who gave Zaid (rta) to her as a gift. In turn, Khadijah (rta) gave him to the Prophet (sa), who later granted Zaid (rta) his freedom and adopted him as his own son.

When the Prophet (sa) asked for her hand on behalf of Zaid (rta), Zaynab (rta) and her family were shocked at the idea of her marrying a man, who for them was only a freed slave. The Prophet (sa) thought they would make a good couple, and that their marriage would demonstrate that it was not their ancestors but their standing in the sight of Allah (swt) that mattered.

A lesson we seem to have forgotten. Today, we are as socially stratified as the Arabs were in the days of Jahiliyah. Cross-social and cross-cultural marriages are frowned upon and just not acceptable. How often do we hear of a Sindhi marrying a Pathan?

Zaynab (rta) and Zaid (rta) got married when this Ayah was revealed in the Quran: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any opinion in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.” (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

The marriage, however, was not a success. Although both Zaynab (rta) and Zaid (rta) were the best of people, who loved Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa), they were very different and could not overcome their incompatibility.

Then Allah (swt) ordained His Messenger (sa) the task of eradicating a deep rooted social tradition – the adoption of children. An adopted child was considered exactly like a real son or daughter in rights and sanctities. This tradition affronts the basic principles of Islam; especially those concerning marriage, divorce and inheritance and some other cases.

“Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah.” (Al-Ahzab 33:5)

“Muhammad (sa) is not the father of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets.” (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

Allah (swt) bid the Prophet (sa) to marry his cousin Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta), who was an ex-wife to Zaid (rta) – his adopted son.

“So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them).” (Al-Ahzab 33:37)

So he married the divorcee of his ‘adopted’ son to show that adoption does not really make the adopted child a real son and also to show that divorcees have a right to remarry. Tongues of the Kuffar to this day are dipped in venom, when they slander the Prophet (sa) regarding his marriage to Zaynab (rta). They stoop to the basest level of accusations. So we can well imagine how the hypocrites must have spread false propaganda at that time.

The marriage of Zaynab (rta) and the Prophet (sa) not only withstood all the hoopla but flourished in spite of it. Zaynab (rta) was fond of pointing out that her marriage had been arranged by Allah (swt) Himself!

But that did not mean she thought she was a ‘chosen one’ and became complacent about Allah (swt) or her actions. She was constantly immersed in worship.

It is related by Anas Ibn Malik (rta) that once the Prophet (sa) entered the mosque and found a rope hanging between two pillars, and so he said: “What is this?” He was told: “It is for Zaynab (rta). She prays, and when she loses concentration or feels tired, she holds onto it.” At this time, the Prophet said: “Untie it. Pray as long as you feel fresh, but when you lose concentration or become tired, you should stop.”

She was a giving woman. The Prophet (sa) said of her to his other wives: “She is the most generous among you.” It has been related by Aisha (rta) that the Prophet (sa) once said to his wives: “The one who has the longest hands among you will meet me again the soonest.” Aisha (rta) added: “They used to measure each other’s hands to see whose was longest, and it was the hand of Zaynab (rta) that was the longest, because she used to work by hand (tanning leather) and give away (what she earned) in charity.”

Zaynab (rta) was with the Prophet (sa) for six years, and lived for another nine years after his death, thus fulfilling the Prophet’s (sa) indication that she would be the first of his wives to die after him.

If ever a woman gave Ayesha (rta) cause for insecurity, it was Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). There was a healthy rivalry between Zaynab (rta) and Ayesha (rta). However, Ayesha (rta) said of Zaynab (rta): “I have never seen a woman so pure as Zaynab, so God-fearing, so truthful, so attentive to family ties, so generous, so self-sacrificing in everyday life, so charitable and thus so close to Allah, the Exalted.”

The lessons we learn from this remarkable woman and her life are particularly relevant in today’s soap opera culture and hunger for scandals. How can we deal with personal trials with poise? Look at Zaynab (rta). No need to get hysterical at every finger raised in your direction. How do we manage a divorce with dignity? Look at Zaynab (rta). We don’t have to accuse either party of some major fault and get in a mud slinging match. How do we adjust to a major lifestyle change? Look at Zaynab (rta). Know your direction and stay true to your faith. How do we not get on cloud nine when Allah the Supreme honours us with His Glorious Limelight? Look at Zaynab (rta). Stay humble before Allah (swt) and steadfast in your devotion to Him.