Adoption of a U.S. family trying to drive out Afghan children


After five years of frustration plagued by bureaucratic delays, Bahaudin Mujitaba and his wife Lisa have hired a 10-year-old Afghan boy in Florida this year for another future opportunity. I finally wanted to take him to my home.

However, with the collapse of the Afghan government, the couple are desperately trying to take the boy Noman before he has no chance to fly out of Kabul.

In the turmoil after the Taliban’s takeover, Noman and another family tried to go to the airport through a checkpoint and a shootout on Tuesday, but were forced to turn back.

Mujitaba, who spoke with the boy and his family earlier on Tuesday, said they wanted to try again to get to the airport.

“I cried in my eyes this morning and in my wife’s eyes,” he said. “I couldn’t really say anything other than’do your best’and’be careful’.”

The dramatic takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has been echoing around the world, and for families like Muitabas, fallout can be fast, deeply personal and life-changing. Knowing that it is almost certain that terrorist groups will not support the adoption agreement from the collapsed Afghan government, the greatest hope of American couples is to get the boy out early.

“Once they arrive at the airport, it’s just a matter of waiting time, but it’s a matter of waiting hours or days,” said Bahaudin Mujitaba. Norman is currently under the control of another family member who is about to leave.

Maybe they can take the boy to a nearby country. Maybe Pakistan. Wherever they go, he is willing to fly there and meet him.

“But the first goal is to get him out of Afghanistan safely,” said Mujitaba.

It is unclear how many children may be adopted in the herd of people trying to flee Afghanistan. Another Indiana-based US family is working with the same adoption agency as Mujitaba to take a two-year-old boy out of the country.

Mary King, Secretary-General of the Frank Adoption Center in Wake Forest, North Carolina, is working with her family to take her children to the United States and obtain full permission from an Afghan court to complete the adoption. Said that. They were waiting for a US visa, but everything has changed in the last few days.

“We don’t know because this all happened much faster than we all expected,” she said. “We have put them on all lists. We have filled out all the forms that were told. Their names are only available to the appropriate US authorities and everywhere we can get them. And now we are waiting to hear what will happen next. “

US adoption from Afghanistan is relatively rare compared to adoption from other countries, according to State Department data. From 1999 to 2019, 41 Afghan children were adopted into an American family. This is far less than in other countries in the region, including 148 children from Iran and 667 from Pakistan. In other countries such as China, Ukraine and Colombia, thousands of children have been adopted into US families over the last two decades.

Noman Mujtaba (L) and Bahaudin Mujtaba
Noman Mujtaba (L) and Bahaudin Mujtaba in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 21, 2017. (Provided by Bahaudin Mujtaba via AP)

The process in Afghanistan required work in the Afghan Family Court, which limited the guardianship process to Muslim parents. According to the State Department, court-licensed families can take their children to the United States to complete adoption.

But under the Taliban’s control, it is almost certain that it will no longer be allowed, Mr. Mujitaba said. Especially from families based in the United States.

Mujitaba and his adoption agency turned to Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s office for help. Mujitaba offered to go to Afghanistan with the US military and offered to be fluent in language and culture in exchange for the opportunity to take the boy home.

Rubio’s office confirmed that it was working with Mujitaba and the adoption agency, but did not provide details on the options that Senator staff were pursuing.

Mujitaba and his wife agreed to adopt a distant relative, Noman, after Mujitaba met him during his visit to Kabul five years ago.

“I basically fell in love with this little boy, and based on what I heard, we knew we had the means and motives to help him,” he said. rice field.

The child’s mother died of cancer and left a boy with his adult brother and older father who could not take care of him. Mujitaba described Norman as “a little boy with a big dream.” He loves music and wants to be top notch at school and be an engineer or doctor. Mujtaba’s profession said the boy might be attracted because he had to meet so many doctors.

Norman seems to have diabetes and other medical problems, probably due to nutritional problems, but Mujitaba is not entirely clear whether Afghan doctors have given him the correct diagnosis and treatment. Said not.

“Unfortunately, that’s the environment you’re in Afghanistan,” he said. “Once I get here, I don’t know exactly what the problem is. He’s been fine for a while, but unfortunately it’s not.”

Mujtaba is a US citizen who immigrated from Afghanistan 40 years ago. After the Taliban was banished 20 years ago, he returned to the country where he was born in 2005 for the first time in 20 years. He has visited Norman 10 times in the last few years and stayed for 3-5 weeks at a time.

His wife, an American, said he had never been to Afghanistan or met the boy in person because it seemed too dangerous to bring her.

King, whose agency deals primarily with intercountry adoption, said her agency handled another adoption from Afghanistan in 2017, but they didn’t have to deal with the collapsed government. .. She said her team is working with her family to take the children out, hoping to secure an emergency visa in a situation she said was “very, very scary”. ..

“I see this as their social worker. I can’t understand what they feel and what these little boys feel,” she said. rice field.

Professor Mujitaba of Nova Southeastern University said the adoption process felt like it had been pulled out, but they wanted them to be nearby until about a week ago.

But now he doesn’t know when, or if they can take the boy to his new home in Fort Lauderdale.

“I think it’s at stake now,” he said.

Michelle L. Price

Associated Press