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Destined to destitution

Nov 25,2018 - Last updated at Nov 25,2018

Did you know that Steve Jobs was adopted? His biological parents gave him away to be raised by his adoptive parents, Paul and Clara Jobs. 

Steve Jobs became a visionary who redefined the computer industry with the personal computer and later the tablet. He also revolutionised the music and telecommunications industries with user-friendly innovative products. He was one of the most influential people in the world.   

I mention this to show how far people can go in an environment that permits them to fulfil their potential. 

Now imagine what would have become of Steve Jobs if his biological father Abdulfattah Jandali gave him away in his native Homs, or even in Jordan?

This issue was discussed on a talk show on a Jordanian private TV channel two weeks ago, when an orphan, weeks short of his 18th birthday when he would have to leave the orphanage, expressed concern about his future as an adult of unknown parentage. Moreover, his orphanage was overstretched to provide food and shelter to its wards, so the boy had no education or skills. 

Of course, there are organisations that provide orphans with education or training, and some NGOs support them beyond 18, till they complete university education or vocational training. But there are not enough of them.

And even with a university degree, for a young adult to get a job in the public sector, the largest employer in the country, he would need to apply to the Civil Service Bureau and wait for his turn at the end of a long waiting list. Sometimes, the waiting period takes years. 

Getting a job in the private sector is even more difficult because this is a tribal society where a job applicant is asked about his pedigree before his qualifications. Seriously, his chances would be very slim without a network of social support, the most obvious of which would be the tribe.    

So, is a Jordanian orphan destined to spend his whole life paying for an act committed by others unknown to him/her? And before anyone reminds me that Jordan is a conservative country of limited resources, let me stress that what we need here is solutions not excuses. 

One possible solution is for Jordan to revise its rules on child fostering. The law in Jordan does not allow adoption, which is a doctrinal point of Islamic jurisprudence. But it allows fostering children, and it stipulates that “consideration should be given to the best interests... of the juvenile in implementing the provisions of the law”, according to the Juveniles Law No. 32 of 2014, Article 4-A.

Regulations on child fostering were tightened recently as part of the global effort to combat child trafficking. This in itself is a noble cause. But our regulations should not be so inflexible as to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Seriously, the only requirement needs to be the prospective foster parents’ ability to provide the child with a decent life. The alternative is to leave them destined to delinquency and destitution.


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