Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Child's Custody

10-yr-old Adam Jones

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.
Adam Jones and his mom RebeccaIf 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:

British Woman Claims Son Kidnapped by Grandparents in Qatar

Social Workers Win Access to Adam

ITN Video Interview with Adam's mom Rebecca Jones


  1. Truly, truly heartbreaking! I can't even imagine. From what I understand, there are many, many cases like this in many parts of the world. So unbelievably heartbreaking.

    My prayers go out to Ms. Jones and Adam.

  2. Great blog. Glad to see you covering the terrible treatment of children. It is an abomination when children are deprived of their mothers.

  3. It really is all about the money, or future inheritance, isn't it. My prayers go out to Rebecca and Adam.

    this mother was being good by letting her son know his fathers family..and they betray her so deeply.
    and even though he's not told about the situation..he must be freaked out he hasnt heard from his mom.
    thanks for sharing this story

  5. So sad and so true. I hate it when a child is ripped off from his mother like that. I have no respect for cruel people.

  6. DISCLAIMER: Please do not take the following comment as serious advice or encouragement, it is simply something I saw on television and I am not advising anyone to do it.

    This story is truly heartbreaking and I feel for that mother so much. I can't imagine going through something like that.

    Ages ago, I saw an American movie with a plot similar to this. Don't hold me on any details as I was very young when I saw it but basically, it was an American mother and Middle Eastern father. The father takes the child (or two kids) somewhere to the Middle East for reasons I cannot recall and basically kidnaps them from the mother. He denies the mother contact, always making excuses. After exhausting all legal options and realizing the law is not on her side, she realizes her only option is to kidnap them back. So she hires some people who fight cases like this, they fly to the Middle East, work out a plan, kidnap the kids and take them back to America.

    I know it was only a movie but it sort of brought this issue to light of legalities surrounding these mixed children, different cultures, what people are pushed to do when left with no other options.

    I really hope things work out for her and her son.

  7. How many of these cases must happen before women start understanding the risks involved in returning with children to the Middle East? My heart breaks for her and for others who are right now committing this same mistake. I am glad you are posting these cases. It is shocking to me how much ignorance still persists on this subject.

  8. It is very interesting for me to read that blog. Thank author for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon.

  9. thats really awful, that poor poor mother. i dont understand how on earth that can be legal. if she signed an agreement in arabic that she didn't understand, wouldn't that contract be void? and how can the grandmother be given custody over the mother? my best wishes go out to the mum, hopefully she'll be able to get her son back soon

  10. My prayers for Rebecca and Adam; that mother and son will be reunited soon.... may Allah be on your side, He is the most merciful and most just. This is unfair and deceitful on the side of the father's family..... very very unislamic. I am ashamed that people who claim to be muslim choose to act in such henious way.

  11. Again! While the Gulf seems to heading in the right direction there is always a major set and this is one of them. I met and heard through and through, cases like this one. In the end though, in most cases, it gets resolved. A painstaking process though.
    I think if this gets anymore media coverage, the Qatari government might back down though. The last thing most of the Gulf states need right now is bad PR.
    Child custody cases such as this one is not exclusively in the Middle East. I saw a video on 24 Hours about a custody case, and a very costly one at that in the EU, Greece. The father took the daughter to Greece and the American mother has spent losts of money researching and travellingback and fourth to see her daughter, and each time, she fails. So, sadly to say, once a custody battle is on an international level, it surely involves a lot of complications.
    I pray that Adam will returned to his mother.

  12. Injustice to Mothers and Children need to stop....this is problem prayers are with Rebecca & Adam....a mother and child never part...bound in the beating of each others heart <3

  13. I am an advocate for victims of domestic violence and child abuse, especially for children who are taken from their mothers.

    Children are being taken from their mothers every day. It is usually by abusers in family court. The paternal grandparents play a big part in this too. These are not children being taken away from abusive moms either. Usually the moms are accused of being overprotective for protecting children from abuse, then the mom gets accused of the fictitious "parental alienation syndrome." Then they completely take the child away from the mom and force the child to be with dad (or dad's parents).

    It's the patriarchy at work. In FL where I am, they even passed a new custody law last year and were actually so blatant to reference old English property laws where the children are the property of the father. They use phony rhetoric and call it "shared parenting." It's anything but shared. It has been a return to victims of abuse being unable to escape their abusers. Even if a woman gets a divorce, she often loses her kids. It's really terrible.

    The story you posted is not the only one like it. These people don't care about children's feelings. They are property of the male line.

  14. God will judge these people for being so selfish as to rip a child away from its mother. Horrid.

  15. I apologize if I sound harsh, however, women MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!

    I quote from your blog: "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."

    Lesson learned too late = NEVER sign a document you don't understand. I was a commissioned Notary Public, and that is the first thing a Notary asks before performing the notarization: "Do you understand the contents of the document?"

    I'm very sorry for Rebecca, but let all women who read your blog take note!

    ALWAYS READ a document, every word, before you sign it. If it's not in your native language, refuse to sign it.

    Trust, but verify.

  16. Anonymous Notary--I agree. Though it may seem to be callous, in fact it is an important preventive. I read completely anything I sign no matter who gives it to me. Even if the person is trustworthy the document may contain errors, that need correcting before signing.
    Amazing the number of people who will sign, eg an informed consent for treatment or research without reading, unless I require them to (and I do).

  17. Susie

    Thanks for sharing this with us, I cant even think how it feels like for Adam and his mother to be deprieved of each other.

    I pray that they get reuinited as soon as possible, and that Adams mother win custody.

  18. There is a very nice Bulgarian proverb "A child without a father is a half orphan, without a mother - a full/complete orphan". I, too, do apologize if this may sound harsh, but I believe that a kid can live without his/her father but not without his/her mom. And last but not least, even the worst mom is a better mom, than the best anybody else. ... Very upsetting ...

  19. i hate how those in the middle east speak arabic but don't understand what islam requires of them or the arabic that is being used in the Quraan and hadiths especially when it comes to custody of children -that they should go to the mother...

    alhamdulillah my son and i are in australia because if we remained in egypt, i would've ended up like rebecca

  20. Good Luck to Rebecca Jones. Sadly this scenario is played out over & over in our world. Poor woman.

  21. Yes I am one who says she should have her son back.. but no I don't think this is about money at all. I think those assumptions not only over simplify this case.. but it seeks to do nothing more than to turn the Qatari family into villains.. rather than extended family.. of a boy who is their family as well. An extension to one who is lost to them in death.. a sorrow that this boy they don't even know.. haven't seen.. and honestly.. has been cut off even in name (his name is no longer the name of his father but that of his step father)

    No I don't think they are taking the right steps to build a relationship with this boy. But I don't necessarily agree with families being cut off either. It is something all we women married to men from here should consider.

  22. Nzingha-well said. Perhaps building collaborative relationships overtime, keeping his original name, and reducing the family's fear that he was being taken from them would have facilitated a better solution. Among my own inlaws, I only see fear that relatives being raised in France are being cut off from their paternal heritage, and a desire to keep a connection, and to feel respected as members of the child's family--especially the grandparents.

  23. This story you wrote about is so sad. It’s unbelievable what this country does to families and families do to each other. Their religion has to be misinterpreted. There can’t be a “God” that would want this sort of thing happening to families, truly sad.

  24. Adam is a pupil at my kids' school and it is heartbreaking for everyone concerned - his family, his friends, the other mothers and teachers. Rebecca has seen Adam this week and is refusing to leave Qatar until she has him with her. Let's all keep supporting her!

  25. Thanks for writing about this. I know Rebecca quite well and I do not fully agree with Nzhinga. I believe it WAS about money first and foremost, but it has spiraled into something larger because now Fahad AL-Madhaiki has to "justify" his atrocious actions. Qataris in general are very concerned about how they are viewed by the outside world since they aspire to be on the world stage, many will allow false pride to motivate them to throw their support behind this family under the cloak of nationalism.

    Furthermore, in order to build a case for why Adam should be taken from his mother, Fahad drummed up the deep necessity of Adam learning his "real" (meaning QATARI) culture, so now they HAVE to try to show that they are going to make sure he speaks "proper Arabic" and has religious instruction (which his mother had already put in place for him) and becomes a little Qatari. For God's sake, they make him wear a THOBE -- as if they can magically make him an instant Qatari and wipe out the fact that he is also British.

    I happen to know that the child is a prisoner in his uncle's home (he is NOT in the custody of the grandmother) and is brought to the grandmother's home twice weekly, for Rebecca's visitation. Those are the only times he is allowed out of the house. He has not been in school since they took him (well over 2 months now) and Adam is a child with special needs that fall within the autism spectrum.

    This is a crime and a huge sin. The Qatari courts need to get their act together and consider that for 10 years no one challenged her (and her 2nd husband Barrie) as fit parents for Adam. In fact, the boy's biological father was not on the scene when he was born and did not register the birth immediately, but some time after when he came to see the infant child. Rebecca has worked hard to protect his reputation, but I think the kindest thing you could say is that he had no desire to be a hands-on father.

    Please consider signing the petition, if you haven't already; and forward the link to your friends and family.

    The facebook support group is here:

    Salaam Alaikum,
    PM (Peaceful Muslimah)

  26. It would be great if you would do a follow up to let us know if this child will ever be able to leave that country and live with his mother. This atrocious treatment of mothers and children must be stopped. Women must demand to raise their own children.