Today Bada’el/Alternatives presented a workshop on “The Right to Origins” co-hosted with Legal Agenda, in Badaro, Beirut [link to site]. There were six adoptees present from the Netherlands, others from France and Switzerland. We’ve been doing a lot of media these past few days, and I think it is safe to say that we’ve definitively put an end to both the usual “poor orphans” mentality of the media, as well as what ends up being a mushy kind of mealy-mouthed adoptee-speak that endlessly depresses me.
I presented on the topic: “Adoption activism: Lebanon in a global context”. I tried to show how adoption resistance is not new but has always existed; the political and economic underpinnings of the practice; the extent of adoption activism globally speaking; that we don’t need to re-invent the wheel, that there is precedent to follow, to just fine-tune to a Lebanese context.
The How Class Works Conference [link to conference web site] took place at SUNY/Stonybrook on June 5, 2014. I presented a paper entitled: “The Class-Based Roots of Adoption and Adoption Mythology”, on the session panel called “Class and Children”.
You are cordially invited to the launching of the NGO Badael-Alternatives, which addresses for the first time in Lebanon and in the Arab region the right to origins. For this very special occasion, we have prepared a workshop in partnership with the advocacy/monitoring group Legal Agenda [link]. There will also be an artistic performance [link] with live testimonies from those who were separated and placed for inter-country adoption and in local institutions.
The last few days have been a bit of a rollercoaster.
Based on initial DNA results, and further database research, I now know more about myself than I ever did previously.
It took a bit of time, but the NGO that we have started up here in Lebanon has seen the light of day and has received government approval. Our first steps include a fundraiser as well as a workshop with the local legal advocacy/monitoring group, Legal Agenda [link to site].
Many adoptees will be coming to Beirut to perform for our fundraiser, and I will be reading an excerpt of my poetry. Tickets may be purchased from Metro Al-Madina theater in Hamra [link to site].
I came across this in a tiny book published in 1905, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Volume II, handed down to me by my father. Published by the New Century Library in New York, the book starts with an introduction by one James Russell Lowell. The introduction is entitled, “The Life of Edgar A. Poe”, and it contains the following:
Ever since I registered my DNA kit, I’ve gone daily to the testing web site and changed my profile. I’m currently oscillating between being completely open (“I am an adoptee looking for my biological family”) and being less open (“I am looking for DNA relatives in Lebanon”).
It has been suggested I take this latter route, so as not to scare off anyone searching. I understand this logic, but I also know (and have written about) how all discussions in Lebanon eventually lead to the Two Questions: “What is your family name?” and “What town is your family from?”
So much sooner rather than later, these questions will come up. And so much sooner rather than later, I will have to lower the boom on anyone I might match with. I’m trying to decide whether it is any benefit “holding on” to the reasons for my search, as opposed to being completely honest.
This past September marks ten years spent in Lebanon.
This is both hardly enough time and far too long.
Hardly enough time to truly feel a sense of belonging.
And far too long to spend in the place of one’s birth without finding familial roots.
The more one attempts connection to place the harder becomes disconnection from family.
They go hand in hand.
I’m at my limit for being able to stand this, frankly.
Especially when I know that at any given time I am talking to someone just a few steps removed from me on the Lebanese genealogical tree.