Shaykh Jamir Meah advises on adoption, the rulings on mahram, and telling the truth to an adopted child.

My question is: I was childless me and my husband adapted the son of my husband’s brother. Ten years ago my husband died. This boy is 29 and I am 60 so there is huge age gap. My son doesn’t know I am not his real mom, so like an actual mother, when he comes home he shows his respect with hugs, and kisses on the head. What are the rulings on this? I need guidance.

This is a very sensitive issue, however, if handled carefully, will work out fine insha Allah. There are two issues that need to be dealt with; informing your husband’s nephew and adopted son of his real parents, and how to interact with each other.  

Telling the Truth

You should tell your adopted son the truth about his parents. This may be very difficult to do, but he has a right to know who his real mother and father are. It is not clear from the information given whether his real parents are alive or not, which may simplify or complicate the process. 

Either way, hopefully he will realize that what you and your husband did was out of love. He is a grown man and should understand the complexities of the situation. You may also want to seek advice from other family members who can support both you and him during this process.  

Mahram (Non-Marriageable Kin)

Because he is your late husband’s nephew, your adopted son is not your mahram, unless you breastfed him when he was under the age of two years old, with certain conditions fulfilled. For further details on who would be your mahram please consult this answer

This means that a) you will have to fully cover in front of him except for your face and hands, b) avoid seclusion with him, and c) avoid physical contact.  

I understand that this is going to be the most difficult and strange thing to you both as your relationship is of mother and son. Therefore, be patient and know that your love and care for each other will not go unrewarded and whatever hardship you undergo for the sake of Allah, will be recompensed. It may take more thought and effort, but try to find ways you can be in each other’s company lawfully, such as with another female family member present, so you can still enjoy one another’s company.  

If at times, the maternal bond over takes you and you forget or slip in your interaction, or your adopted son towards you, then do your best to stay within the limits while being assured that Allah Most High is most Knowing and ever Compassionate.  

I wish you both every happiness, and that your bond is made stronger for the sake of Allah Most High. 

Warmest salams,

Jamir