A Lebanese proverb: On adoption.

I came across a Lebanese proverb:

.إلي ما بيربى ع سفرة أبوه ما بيشبع

Translation: “He who is not brought up at his father’s table shall not be satisfied.”

Note: Reference to the hard life which orphans and adopted children often meet with.

Source: A Dictionary of Modern Lebanese Proverbs; Anis Freyha. Librairie du Liban, 1974.

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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (VII)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB.


RL: Two more questions? It’s 8:30 and I don’t know if you want to go?

DD: Let’s finish our questions.

RL: Ok. They’re pretty brief and pretty straightforward. I just wanted to know when you do obtain your citizenship, can you choose your sect?

DD: Yes!
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (VI)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB. The first entry to the series can be found here: [link to entry].


RL: You were also telling me you were flabbergasted by things you’ve heard women do here by means of, kind of, confronting…I don’t know, I think you know what I mean, just in terms of sticking up for themselves, pointing at something and saying “no”. Could you give me an example?
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (V–postscript)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB. The first entry to the series can be found here: [link to entry].


This postscript to the previous post is based on a dialogue with Snow Leopard, who had written a thought-provoking treatise on transcultural adoption, asking for a discussion on this subject. I agree with much of what was said in the original post, and the points brought up are well taken. I think I might only differ in terms of framework, and so add this to perhaps finetune and clarify things from a shifted viewpoint, in the hope of contributing to and advancing the requested dialogue.
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (V)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB. The first entry to the series can be found here: [link to entry].


RL: I want to know, for you, how has your perspective on gender constructs shifted and changed since you’ve been here? Personally and just general observations as well. You own experiences, your own observations…I know it is thick but…
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (IV)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB. The first entry to the series can be found here: [link to entry].


RL: Is [this focus on gender] a procedure in the application for citizenship?

DD: I don’t think it came up as such…

RL: So far, with you?

DD: And…S. got her nationality and I believe D. is also going for her nationality, so I believe it’s possible but I can imagine, how to put this, there’s no, there’s no [official focus on gender that I am aware of]…[and Lebanon is] unlike Korea which has established special visas for adoptees to come back—ay [yeah]—it sounds nice, [but] it’s basically brain-draining and exploitative [as was explained to me by a Korean adoptee who returned], “our kids went and got educated and we’re gonna take them back for economic capital”. I [have long since been] corrected of that romantic notion.
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (III)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB. The first entry to the series can be found here: [link to entry].


RL: Actually there are two things I’ve picked up on that you were talking about that I would actually like you to maybe elaborate on. I am also coming in with background information. You are my friend, you are my family member and I know that you have worked on this and I know you’ve written on this. But you were talking about the kind of Europeans that come in and are expecting this civil, civic law, and there isn’t this organized civil system in which there is transparency and there is accountability. For me that is interesting because I know you are applying for citizenship, and I just want to know how you think gender plays into that. Maybe into your process into applying for citizenship and also, in the face of the state if you will. Are there other adoptees applying for citizenship…that are women?
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (II)

This series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB. The first entry to the series can be found here: [link to entry].


RL: Can I ask you now, your reasons for coming back, your reasons for staying?

DD: I think if I had to point to one specific moment in time [it would be after] my parents had retired to New Mexico and they were clearing out [their stuff], as my father said, “before we kick the bucket” we have to clean the house. All of my stuff [that they had] started coming back to me. All of my papers, all of my drawings that they had of mine, and all of this stuff. So I had these boxes of information about myself. I was going through one box and all of the paperwork from the orphanage was there, about 20 or 30 sheets of paper. I thought I had read them already, and I had been in touch with some adoptees in France and (PAUSE) [I remember that] they seemed to me, at the time, to be pretty hardcore, meaning: “we’re going to go back! We’re gonna go to the orphanage! They’re lying to us!” And all of this stuff.
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On adoption, kinship, and gender. (I)

The following series of posts is based on an interview conducted with Romy Lynn Attieh. I’ve known Romy since I arrived in Lebanon, and in that time I’ve come to see her as a great friend, an intrepid research assistant, a colleague, and a sister. She has followed my story since day one; our stories overlap in interesting ways: We were both acculturated American, and have both experienced Lebanon as a space of “re-entry” as it were.

The interview was conducted for a paper that Romy wrote entitled: “Exploring Kinship and Gender in the Return Narratives of Transnational Adoptees Born in Lebanon” for a class with Dr. Rosemary Sayegh called “Oral History and Gender”, in the Anthropology department at AUB.
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Illustration @DrennanArt

It’s been a long time on my “to-do” list, but I’ve finally put up my illustration and teacher portfolios: Daniel Drennan | Illustration; and on Twitter: @DrennanArt.

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