When the people waiting to adopt Noman spoke to him over the phone, they could hear bullets flying within earshot of the boy.
Bahaudin Mujtaba—a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Afghanistan 40 years ago, first met 10-year-old Noman, a distant relative, on a trip to Afghanistan five years ago. The pair are connected through Mujtaba's father's cousin, who is married to Noman's cousin. Since his mom died of cancer, he's been living with relatives.
Ever since Mujtaba, a professor at Nova Southeastern University, and his wife met Noman, the couple wanted to adopt him, and they have been trying to sort out bureaucratic paperwork so they could take him home. "He was very energetic and very talkative, and I fell in love with his personality right then at the time," Mujtaba told NBC News.
His wife, Lisa—a U.S. citizen—never went to Afghanistan, because her husband thought it was dangerous. The couple even set up a cheerful room for Noman, complete with a plaid teddy bear on the bed, in South Florida, all in the hope that the boy should have a shot at a better life.
"Bahaudin Mujtaba and his wife Lisa, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, were hoping they would finally be able to bring Mujtaba’s distant relative Noman, 10, to their home this year. "#adoptionislove #ADOPTION https://t.co/8InBdnVbUz— Adoptions First (@AdoptionsFirst) August 20, 2021
But now, with everything that's happening in Afghanistan, there's a certain sense of urgency in the adoption process. As the county descends into utter chaos, Noman—who is now with a family also trying to flee the country, per AP—is unsure about his future.
“He’s very nervous about the situation in Afghanistan, as obviously every Afghan would be. So there’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear,” Mujtaba said, just a few hours after speaking with Noman over the phone. They could hear bullets flying within earshot of the boy. “And he’s at that age where he doesn’t want to miss school. Everything is shut down right now. And that’s what the fear he was expressing to me over the phone.”
Mujtaba said he is about “90 percent done” with the adoption process and is hoping that within a week he will be able to secure a visa for Noman to come to America before the possibility slips away. “Once they get to the airport, it’s just a matter of waiting time. But it’s a matter of waiting a few hours or a few days,” he said.
The couple just wants to get Noman to any other country, and they are all set to fly out there to meet him. “But the first goal is to get him out of Afghanistan safely,” Mujtaba said. Eventually, on August 20, 2021, TODAY revealed that Noman had finally made it out of the country! "He was on one of those emergency flights out of Kabul airport yesterday," Hoda Kotb said, calling the development "a heartwarming update."
But[at the time of publishing] there seems to be no news about where Noman is now, or what the next step will be.
One other U.S. family, based in Indiana, is working with the same adoption agency as Mujtaba and is trying to get a 2-year-old boy out of the country. Meanwhile, it has been reported that there is no clarity on the number of potential adoptive children waiting to fly out of the country.
The difficulties in adopting a child from Afghanistan is because the government there has set stringent rules, says Mary Beth King, executive director of the Frank Adoption Center in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
“It’s a combination of the fact that Afghanistan prefers adopting parents who are originally from Afghanistan who are practicing Muslims, and who meet the other kind of legal and personal qualities that the Afghan government has established for their children,” she said.
She added that they had full permission from Afghan courts to bring the children to the U.S. and finalize the adoptions. All that was left was to get U.S. visas, but everything changed in the past few days. “This all came about much faster than any of us anticipated, so we don’t know,” she said. “We have put them on every list. We’ve filled out every form we’ve been told about. Their names are everywhere we can get them, as far as with the appropriate U.S. authorities. And so now we are waiting to hear what may happen next.”
Cover Image Source: YouTube | TODAY (US families Await Loved Ones From Afghanistan)