El Hi Ani ? All Rights Reserved
As children are highly valued in Jewish Morocco, childless men and women opted for adoption when possible. Adoption opportunities were available in most cases within extended family circles. However, adoption beyond family circles was common too. There is no detailed documentation as to the background of families involved in the adoption process. Yet, rabbinical regulation of adoption indicates that the practice was common enough to require attention.
Adoption outside of the Jewish faith was impossible due to legal prohibition. Therefore all children involved in adoption were of Jewish mothers. Rabbinical courts (Bet Din) regulated adoption. Usually, the natural mother came to the rabbinical court with her child and handed it over to the adoptive parents in presence of witnesses. Scribes registered the transfer of parenthood (kinyan) and specified that the act is irreversible and that adoptive parents had the responsibility to provide good care, love and education to the child. The court registers the name of the adoptive parents as the official family name of the child.? It also keeps the natural parents name in the register to prevent incest when marriage is due.
As mentioned earlier, most adoptions took place within the extended family circle. Family members who were fertile bore children for the purpose of giving them away to other family members who could not bear children. In some of theses cases, there were no formalities involved. The transfer of parenthood occurred within the family. As registry in the periphery was not very common, families kept track of the exchange. The transfer was kept well known in the community. The adopted children were fully aware of it. They often maintain close contact with their natural parents and came to understand that the adoption was an act of love for relatives who could not bear children. No dysfunctions were associated with this practice (Eliany, 1980).