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The Other Children of the French Republic

The Government of Kafala by the Institutions of Adoption

Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

Abstract

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.