Egyptian Court Denies Adoptive Family Custody of ‘Baby Shenouda’, Citing Lack of Jurisdiction

Egyptian Court Denies Adoptive Family Custody of ‘Baby Shenouda’, Citing Lack of Jurisdiction

Photo credit: Coptic Solidarity

An Egyptian administrative court has refused to rule on whether the child Shenouda’s adoptive family can gain custody of him, resulting in him remaining within the state’s custody. The court cited its lack of jurisdiction in making the decision.

Over the past year, ‘Baby Shenouda’s’ case stirred much controversy in Egypt. A Coptic Christian couple found Shenouda inside a Cairo church when he was only a few days old and took him in, raising him as their own. Egyptian authorities took custody of Shenouda when DNA tests, which were performed as a result of a family dispute over inheritance, revealed that he was not biologically related to the couple.

Shenouda was then placed into an orphanage, renamed Youssef and assigned to the Islamic faith.

Children with no known lineage within the country, as per the Civil Status Department at the Ministry of Interior, are assigned the Islamic faith by default.

Moreover, under Shari’a law, adoption is not permissible. Fostering a child, however, is. In 2021, a decree was set in place by Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity wherein foster parents are granted the right to add their names to a fostered child’s birth certificate.

Netizens have raised their concerns online, some siding with the Shenouda family, while others sided with the state arguing that a child should not have been taken in without going through the proper official routes as is the case in most countries.

Shenouda’s adoptive family intends to make another appeal to the court.

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