“He is a piece of my liver … and a piece of my husband’s heart.” This is how Marie Fouad expressed her feelings, and those of her life partner, Amir al-Sharoni, towards the child they managed to secure his sponsorship.
Sponsorship of Christian children is not uncommon in Egypt, which leads Mary and Amir to believe that they are probably the first Christian families to succeed in this step.
Mary and Amir live in England, having married 14 years ago, and Mary says: “We were not meant to have a child of our own flesh and blood, so before the year 2018 we started the journey to looking for the adoption of an Egyptian child from our society, where “information was very scarce and contradictory at many times.”
Although the adoption procedures are relatively easy in England, the couple chose to look for an Egyptian child, saying: “We wanted a child who looked like us and carried our Egyptian genes. We are a friendly people known for their sweetness of spirit and lightness of shadows, and thus we have a personality which distinguishes us from other peoples.”
“Based on a Christian Child”
Mary recounts being greeted with disapproval and admiration whenever she went to a Christian nursing home. .
Mary claims that many of those in charge of Christian childcare homes do not realize that the sponsorship law in Egypt is civil, and includes all Egyptians of all religions.
Through research, Mary found an initiative called “Christian Embrace and Foster Child”, founded in January 2021 by Marilyn Najeh.
About the idea of an initiative, Marilyn tells Al-Hurra that it “started after working for more than 3 years as an e-marketing manager for a charity affiliated with a nursing home.”
She added, “There I learned about the regulations and laws of sponsorship under the alternative family system, and there I tested how the child’s life and personality changed after he left home to a family that embraced him, where you find that the children become more outgoing. and energetic.”
Mary explains that during her experience managing the institution’s social media platforms, she has found many Christian families seeking sponsorship, but they have many questions and queries that they do not receive answers to, and by virtue of her work, I have information that helps in the arrival of children who have no father and mother and need families, Bilal surrounds them with love and care, and here she decided to establish the initiative with one of her friends.
The initiative started to communicate with families who want to sponsor through our account on one of the social media platforms, and we started to answer their questions and help them to complete the procedures and get approval from the Ministry of Social Solidarity obtain.
Mary says that she and mrs. Marilyn Najeh, who launched an initiative entitled “Sponsor a Christian Child”, managed to form a group that includes some Christian families who are looking for children to sponsor and care for.
The family of Mary and Amir was the first family to succeed in implementing the initiative’s goal as their efforts were crowned with success.
And she added: “Marilyn helped us a lot in helping us look for a child to sponsor and communicating with the Ministry of Solidarity, and communicating with Christian care homes in the hope that one of them would agree to to give us the child we were. looking for, but as I said earlier, the issue was and still is very difficult to convince. Those responsible for that role accepted the idea, and some of them even claiming that this would defeat the feasibility of these facilities and the desired purpose of creating them.
A coincidence that raises hope
Mary explains that she and her husband had agreed that they specifically wanted a female child, no more than three years old, so that she could quickly adapt to her new society upon returning to England, but fate decided that they, as she says, must choose a male child who has reached the age of five, and they fell in love with him from the first meeting. .
With the help of the “Christian Child Sponsorship Initiative” I was able to reach the director of a Christian care home who accepted the idea of sponsorship, and chance played a role in facilitating the procedures, as Mary says: “The acceptance of that house to sponsor one of her children was not out of conviction and satisfaction with the idea or principle, but because Some circumstances forced them to close part of the facility, and they had to look for alternatives.”
The director of the home talked about a 5-year-old, but Mary and her husband initially rejected the idea.
“We wanted a female to be no more than three years old,” recounts Mary, and here the director told her that they would lose nothing by seeing the child, and nothing would compel them to sponsor him not.
“We found that she is very logical, a few minutes with that boy will do us no harm,” says Marie.
But the verse was turned upside down, and Mary continued to tell her story: “When we saw the child, we felt something touch our hearts, and the child fell asleep while embracing my husband. After we left, Amir told me that he was the wanted child and I didn’t want anyone else, momentarily or momentarily, especially since we hadn’t met anyone else after him.”
Mary confirmed her husband and asked him: “Suppose we see a little girl with the qualities we want. Who will she choose to answer without hesitation? I will choose the boy. “.
The family met with the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Anba Tawadros II, and Mrs. Mary says: “We not only wanted our meeting with His Beatitude the Pope to bless our step in sponsoring our son and the new form of our family that we have chosen, but also for this meeting to be a start to to educate the Egyptian Christian community about the acceptance and blessing of the Church. For such a step that helps to provide a healthy psychological, social and family atmosphere that is close to ideal for that segment of children who are deprived of the warmth of the family and the joy of the family.”
And she added: “His Beatitude was very happy to meet us and welcomed us warmly, and I would like to point out that when we asked to meet with him through the church secretariat, he responded immediately, and we met with met him less than three days after he submitted the request, and he sat with us for more than an hour and a half, playing with the child and embracing him tenderly.”
And regarding what was established in her mind from Pope Tawadros’ speech, Mary replied: “His speech was all fun and full of love and judgment, as he spent time flirting with the child. This means that the reward or reward of ‘ a family raising a child is equivalent to the Lord’s reward for the monks who have dedicated themselves to his service and the service of his church.
Mary concludes: “I would have to pay over £15,000 (about $18,000) to the British government for adopting a child from outside the UK, and we were happy to take out a loan for it, in order to have a child from our area, but the story of Our success is an individual story, and there are still hundreds or maybe thousands of Christian families looking for a child to care for and sponsor without finding a way to do it. “
And she adds in conclusion: “We hope that what we have done will be a step on a long way to realize the dream of these families, especially since the hardening of the care homes is unjustified. It is increasing, especially after the Pope’s blessing. for us.”
Regarding the opinion of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, on the initiatives to sponsor a Christian child, the official spokesman of the church, Father Moussa Ibrahim, says: “Every action carries the meaning of elevated values, which love, mercy, caring for others and giving is something that supports Christianity based on the fact that the commandment Christianity emphasizes these meanings.
He added in statements to Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper: “If the law allows bail, there is no objection to this as long as the child is Christian. I would like to emphasize that the child who is being bailed is of the same religion.. The church supports the idea of sponsorship to establish Christian families who sponsor a child, and the Church will certainly encourage capable Christian families willing to sponsor to do so.”
On the reasons for the Orthodox Church’s suspension of adoption of children to this day, he explained: “The matter was related to the laws, not the church, as the Egyptian law did not allow it.”
And he emphasized that “the guidance I want to say is that everyone who can do this thing, which carries the meaning of love and goodness, we encourage it.”
door of hope
On the success story of Mary and her husband Amir, Najeh says: “Of course we were happy with Mary’s success story and the arrival of the first Christian child to an alternative family, and you can’t imagine how happy we are to see that little boy in the arms of a father and mother. It is a dream that came true after great effort, and we consider what happened as a door of hope that took place He opened it for many children without family care. “
Najeh expressed her hope that Amir and his wife, Mary, will not be the last Christian surrogate family, adding: “We hope to hear the arrival of another child to a new family soon.”
She added: “The sponsorship we seek is the home sponsorship in which the family embraces the child in its heart, home and life, and is fully responsible for it as if it were a biological child without changing the parentage.”