By Adopt4Life Community Parents, Fayyaz and Nazia
Our journey begins where another journey ends. At the end of our infertility journey we had decided to pursue our adoption journey; we had always discussed adoption in the past as a path to parenthood. So there we stood in the dessert heat of Mecca (the holiest religious site in Islam) in May of 2012 performing Umrah (smaller pilgrimage than the Hajj). Standing in front of the Kaaba (the most sacred site in Islam), our arms were stretched and hands cupped in front of us with our faces buried in our hands in prayer. We prayed to Allah (God Almighty), that we were here to make intentions to adopt children, and if this was meant for us, to please help and guide us on this journey. On the ride between the cities of Mecca and Medina we traveled with a wonderful couple who had three beautiful children: two girls and a boy.
We returned home from our Umrah and immediately, found a warm hearted wonderful private practitioner with whom we connected right away and it was she who would help us begin our adoption process. Following our first meeting with our practitioner, Fayyaz lost his job. We were in shock and thought maybe this was a “Divine” sign not pursue adoption any further? But for some reason we decided not to give up and went full ahead with our Home Study. Little did we know that Fayyaz losing his job was actually a blessing in disguise, as it gave Fayyaz the opportunity to organize all the items and readings we needed for the Home Study; we were able to complete our Home Study much faster than couples usually do. Five months later, exactly one day following the completion of our Home Study, Fayyaz started a new job!
We started attending A.R.E. (Adoption Resource Exchange) at the Toronto Metro Convention Center. Anyone who has ever pursued public adoption knows what a daunting, overwhelming and heart wrenching experience this is. The conference center room is a sea full of CAS social workers and potential parents trying desperately to find forever homes for precious, and often traumatized children who had become crown wards. We were searching for Muslim children… there were no Muslim children. We were told by social workers that in the event of anything happened to the birth parents, the Muslim community often times thankfully stepped in to help those children. So we changed our perspective, we then searched for children whom we could raise as Muslims, who had no practiced religious affiliations, as religion is something spiritual you learn and accept as you grow.
On the morning of one such A.R.E. after Fayyaz finished Fajr (morning) prayer and a thought came to him, a whispering voice that said ‘You will find your children today’. He laughed and shook it off. This was going to be our last A.R.E. as we could not bear the pain anymore and wanted to move on with life, maybe we were not meant to be parents, a life without children. We guess Allah (God) had other plans… the thing about adoption is that you really don’t know when or where or who for that matter your children are. We went to the A.R.E. and as we wandered from table to table this time separately. Nazia came running to me (Fayyaz) and led me to a table. It was often times me leading her, today it was her leading me! She said looked at me, with a glimmer in her eyes I had never seen and said “What about them!”
It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. We froze, mesmerized at the three little hearts dancing in the video. Three!!! What? Three???!!! Three siblings and not a baby… we had been called about newborns a few times but, it never felt right. We never thought three—but this felt right!
A couple months later, we were matched and we completed our transition visitation period of when children are no longer traveling between your home and the foster home. Our transition period happened during Ramadan, so our children learned about fasting. On that day, our forever day, it was Eid Day following the ending of Ramadan (end of fasting period for Muslims like Christmas) we signed the Adoption Agreement. A forever memorable day!
In Islam, an adoptive child maintains their birth name and is called by the birth name of their father. However, due to laws in Canada and for the protection and safety of our children their names are changed. As adoptive parents we follow that principle to ensure our children know who their birth parents are and support their birth heritage. In Islam, we are considered their guardians but in essence what is a parent but a guardian for their child to help them through life’s journey. Adoption is trauma and it is important to respect the birth rights of the Adoptee, do not hide anything from them and speak to them with age appropriate language; children understand more than we give them credit for. It is important to recognize their losses and the painful life journey they endured to be where they are.
Adoption is a personal journey, of personal choice. You and your partner must be aligned because as being a Muslim adoptive parent some people will accept your children and others will not. The biggest comment we get is that how can you raise someone else’s child; we heard this from many people regardless of their religious/cultural background. For us, how can you not support, love and cherish children who at a young age have been through immeasurable trauma we cannot even imagine and who do not have a family. The day we first met our children is a day we will never forget and always cherish; their laughter and sparkling look in their eyes!
During our adoption journey we were always looking for signs, then one day driving home from work, I realized the biggest sign was in front of us and we didn’t see it. It was a foreshadowing, the couple whom we traveled with between Mecca and Medina had three children (who really looked very similar to our children)! God had given us signs we just needed to know to recognize them. We just want to say in closing that we are not qualified from a religious perspective to provide religious interpretations, for that we encourage people to talk to their religious leaders in their community. This our Adoption Journey and our perspectives only. Being Adoptive Parents has been the most challenging and rewarding experience in our lives, we wouldn’t trade it for the world. We just pray that we do right by our children who we love very much and pray they grow up to be wonderful amazing people, as the wonderful amazing children they are!