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EGYPT: Two American couples sentenced to two years for illegal adoption


In the first case of its kind in Egypt, two American couples were sentenced to two years in prison and fined 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,200) per person after being convicted of illegal adoption by Cairo's criminal court earlier this week.

Iris Botrous and Luis Andraws, and Suzan Hagoulf and spouse Medhat Metyas were arrested in December after the U.S. embassy in Cairo grew suspicious of their children's birth certificates. The Christian couples were attempting to obtain American passports for babies they bought from an Egyptian orphanage.

Adoption is prohibited by the Islamic Sharia law upon which much of Egypt's civil and criminal laws are based. Judicial authorities permit adoption in certain instances, providing the adopting couple is Egyptian and children don’t take their surnames. Adopted minors are also not allowed to leave the country.

The trial of the couples began in May. Other defendants included seven Egyptians working for the orphanage, which is affiliated with the Coptic Christian church. The court found that the orphanage, its employees and a doctor were paid $4,500 by Botrous and Andraws for twins and forged birth certificates. Hagoulf and Metyas received a baby boy. 

All Egyptians accused received jail verdicts between two to five years plus fines.

The defendants' lawyers argued that their clients should not be considered criminals, even under Egyptian law, which generally allows Christians to follow the rules of their faith on issues of personal status, such as marriage and divorce and family matters. The couples' lawyers are planning an appeal.

The case has prompted many Egyptian Copts to question the effect Islamic laws have on their lives.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Iris Botrous, center, Luis Andraws, left, and Suzan Hagoulf, right. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (6)

I never knew that Sharia prohibits Adoption, but that issue should be set aside for another day!
Although I empathize with the Convicted Couples, and I find myself in awe of all those Generous, Loving People that would adopt an Orphan child. The fact remains that using Forged Documents is a Serious Crime (Felony), even here in the States!!
But in an Age of Homelessness, and unwanted Children roaming the Streets of Cairo & other Metropolises these Barriers & Blanket Bans on Adoption are NOT Acceptable & Unfair. Just like the Sharia inspired Marriage Laws that don't apply to the Coptic/ Christain Community, neither should these Obselete, Outdated Adoption Laws be applied....

Peace, Love & Respect.

They are convected of violating the Egyptian low which organizes the adoption according to the Islamic rolls not because they are adopting children's in principle and it normal that any country has its rolls and when some body violates it he will be convected I believe nothing wrong with that specially we know that they are originally Egyptians and they are very will aware of the low in Egypt but the troth that they are criminals got what less than what they deserve .

As an adoptive father of two, I am less appalled by the verdict than by some of the comments here. Adoption is meant to serve the interest of children, not to meet the demand of prospective parents. Countries resorting to international adoption, mostly developping countries, are sovereign states. It is their priviledge to devise and implement adoption laws as they wish.

Using bribery to circumvent these laws is not just illegal, it is turning the adoption of abandonned children into a market, where money may anihilate efforts to select families according to the specific needs of the children who are to be adopted. Without such careful selection, the most basic rights of these children are not respected.

If not fought, bribery may encourage deeds much worse than forgery, such as child theft. It also is not condusive to the strict implementation of one fundamental principle of international adoption : subsidiarity. (Intl adoption, as a last resort solution, is considered only after other solutions —extended family, national adoption— have proven impossible).

KMansfield--what a callous fool you are! Any half-way decent person would be appalled by this verdict...

So leaving children in an orphanage is better for them than allowing people adopt them? And jailing people who cannot have children of their own just because they wanted children? Seems incredibly cruel and hateful to me. What happens to all the children? Does anyone even care or are they just disposable because their parents died? I bet most of the children end up on the streets.

They should try adopting a few of the million orphans in Iraq.


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