Wednesday, November 18, 2009
When divorce is involved, in the vast majority of child custody cases in the Middle East, custody of the children is almost always granted to the father. But what about when divorce is not the issue, but instead the father dies? One would think that the mother of the children would get custody of her own kids, right? Not necessarily so, especially in the Middle East.
One case that has made international headlines recently is the case of Adam, whose mother is British and whose Qatari father passed away in 2005. In early October of this year, Rebecca Jones, Adam's mother, was talked into visiting her deceased husband's family in Qatar with her ten-year-old son Adam. The boy was a virtual stranger to the family, having lived in Bahrain most of his life. But what was supposed to be a family visit has turned into a family's desperate fight over the custody of Adam. The Qatari family promptly kidnapped the child and Adam's 77-year-old grandmother has now been awarded custody by a Qatari court.
This family did not rip him away from his mother out of love or concern for him at all. Some reports have indicated that his Qatari family's motivations are based on the child's inheritance. Apparently Adam will come into a large amount of money when he turns 18. Adam doesn't even speak Arabic and his grandmother doesn't speak English.
The boy, like many children of Western women and Middle Eastern men, holds dual citizenship - both British and Qatari. Rebecca's deceased husband's brother, Fahad Al-Madhaiki, whom she trusted, tricked Rebecca into signing a document written in Arabic, that in effect allowed the family to challenge her parental rights to Adam. Rebecca, who has remarried and lives in Bahrain, has been denied visitation by her dead husband's family. To make matters worse, Adam suffers from a condition called dyspraxia, which affects developmental motor skills such as balance and coordination.
Social workers who met with Adam to ensure that he was in good shape told Rebecca that Adam is unaware of the custody battle and was told by his abductors that he is being kept out of his home in Bahrain because of the swine flu.
Human rights groups have condemned the Qatari court's ruling, and Rebecca has received lots of support from around the world, especially from her son's British school in Bahrain.
If you are on Facebook, you can sign up to the group "Return Adam to his Family in Bahrain." Rebecca recently posted the following on her Facebook group on November 18:
"Dear Friends, The minors affairs authority asked us to come to their office for a meeting today. They called Fahad the uncle who took my son and asked him to come in to talk about the fact that I had not seen my son for nearly 7 weeks and this was a violation of my rights as a mother. To see this person sitting acros...s the table for me was very difficult after what he has done but I tried to stay calm because they warned me if I became angry they would not be able to mediate and negotiate a visit to my son. Anyway to cut a long story short after two hours of negotiations he agreed for me to see my son for a few hours at 5pm. I was overwhelmed with joy at the prospect of seeing him, however it was short lived. Ten minutes after I left to prepare for my visit with Adam the minors affairs called me to say that Fahad had called and changed his mind and the visit was off. Truely heartbreaking. Rebecca."
How can this Qatari family, in all good faith, steal this child from his mother, deny her visitation, and think that what they are doing is in the best interest of this child?
For more information about the plight of Adam and Rebecca:
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