The Other Children of the French Republic

The Government of Kafala by the Institutions of Adoption

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud Sociologist, France

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For several years now, orphaned children have been arriving from Algeria and Morocco for legal collection by families residing on French territory. While most Muslim countries prohibit full adoption, they do allow forms of delegation of parental authority (kafala) that enable abandoned children living in orphanages to be cared for by families. Due to the prohibitive status of adoption in Morocco and Algeria and the fact that France is required to adhere to the regulations of those countries, these children arrive in France without having either the possibility of being naturalized or adopted. This article interrogates the particular reception reserved for these children by French institutions by analyzing the reasons for the kafala system's relative obscurity within the French field of adoption, the measures deployed by departmental councils to assess candidates for kafala, and, finally, the alternative strategies such families use to adapt to French rule.

Contributor Notes

Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud est sociologue du droit et de la famille. Ses recherches portent sur les différentes formes de régulation de la sphère privée par l'État (Justice, protection de l'enfance). Ses derniers travaux portent sur la circulation des enfants entre Maghreb et France via la kafala et le contrôle étatique de l'accession à la nationalité par voie de filiation à Mayotte. Elle vient de publier avec Laura Odasso l'ouvrage Faire et défaire les liens familiaux: Usages et pratiques du droit en contexte migratoire aux PUR (2020).

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