Muslims believe in adoption, or do they?

The Dallas Morning News ran a tame little feature recently on efforts to recruit Muslim foster families in North Texas.

By “tame little feature,” I mean a relatively shallow report that scratches at the surface of key questions.

I’m a Morning News subscriber, so I was able to read the entire story (for non-subscribers, it’s mostly behind a pay wall).

The opening itself proves confusing (boldface emphasis mine):

A lack of Muslim foster parents in North Texas means local Muslim children are almost always placed with families of other faiths, putting them in an unfamiliar cultural and religious environment and making a difficult process even harder.

A Richland Hills clinic doesn’t want foster children to face added stresses, like being served bacon when their religion forbids pork, or saying prayers in a bedroom with a cross on the wall. That’s why the Muslim Community Center for Human Services is offering up a challenge to local Muslims: Step up. Become a foster parent.

“It’s a service to humanity,” said Dr. Basheer Ahmed, who founded the clinic. “There’s definitely a bad need in the community.”

About 6,000 North Texas children are in foster care each year, according to Child Protective Services. In recent years, local community leaders say, there have been a handful of times when a Muslim foster home was needed but not available, including twice in the past few months.

Is it just me or does the information in the first paragraph and the fourth paragraph seem to conflict? Are Muslim foster parents almost always unavailable (first paragraph) or occasionally unavailable (fourth paragraph)? It’s been a long week, kind GetReligion readers, so please help me understand what I’m missing!

My other question: Is there a holy ghost in this story? Could it be that Muslim beliefs on adoption are at play here? Mollie posted in 2010 on “Why Muslims don’t adopt?” (If you’re not familiar with Muslim beliefs on adoption, that link is extremely helpful.)

So does the Morning News address the religion angle (as it relates to Muslim beliefs)? Sort of:

Though Islam requires adults to be honest with children about their family lineage, the religion endorses fostering and adoption, said Imam Zia Sheikh of the Islamic Center of Irving.

“Looking after orphans and taking care of them is actually encouraged in Islam,” he said

If you didn’t click the previous link already, go ahead and do it now. Now that you’re up to speed, here’s a question: Is it accurate to say that Islam encourages adoption? Or is the subject perhaps a bit more complicated than the two paragraphs blockquoted above?

Beyond my specific questions related to Muslims, I wish the Dallas story had provided more context on how Child Protective Services handles religion in general. For example, how hard does CPS try to find a Southern Baptist home for a Southern Baptist kid? And what does the law say about making child placements based on religion?

Image via Shutterstock

About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Kristen inDallas

    “Are Muslim foster parents almost always unavailable (first paragraph) or occasionally unavailable (fourth paragraph)?”

    Well technically, the fourth paragraph is talking about absolute numbers, not percentages so they could both be correct. If only 1-2 Muslim children come through the system in a given month and they lack Muslim foster homes for 1-2 children each month, that would mean most Muslim children are placed with families of other faiths.

    • Bobby Ross Jr.

      But that same paragraph suggests only a “handful of times” when no Muslim parents could be found in recent years.

      • Dave

        Kristen is absolutely correct in her parsing of the mathematics of the statements, and her hypothetical is spot on. (Maybe we need a blog on GetMath?)

        • Bobby Ross Jr.

          The story says 6,000 children are in foster care in North Texas. Let’s say 2 percent of the children are Muslim. That’s 120 Muslim children in foster care. If only a handful of children in recent years did not receive a Muslim home when they needed it, how do you get to “local Muslim children are almost always placed with families of other faiths?”

          • Dave

            Your 2% is a counter-hypothetical to Kristen’s. Changing the hypothetical is no way to demonstrate understanding of the underlying arithmetic.

          • Bobby Ross Jr.

            Dave,

            Way back when, I won an award as the top geometry student among my high school’s 300-plus sophomores. Later, I made an A in a statistical analysis course in the Mizzou journalism grad school. So I don’t know that I’m as mathematically challenged as you’d like to believe. But I will admit that you’re making no sense to me.

            Nonetheless, my basic journalism point remains the same: This story reports that “Muslim children are almost always placed with families of other faiths,” but provides no data to back up that statement. I need to know two specific numbers: 1. How many Muslim children are in foster care in North Texas? 2. How many of those children are staying with Muslim families? If the newspaper reports those numbers, then you don’t need an advanced math degree to analyze them. The same is true of the numbers in the fourth paragraph. There is not enough context provided to understand what those numbers mean.

  • Bob Smietana

    Hey Bobby

    A small point but it might be better to ask, “Do Muslims practice adoption?” That faith really is defined by action rather than belief

    • Bobby Ross Jr.

      Thanks, Bob. Good point.

  • John M.

    I believe that agencies will typically try to foster to relatives, who would often be Muslim themselves. The almost always unavailable comment may pertain to situations where no relatives are available.

    But I agree that the article should have been clearer.

    -John


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