Lebanon, 2015: Adoption is War I

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war. —Ann Coulter, “This is War” [link]

I don’t really feel the need to belabor what we know of the history of adoption. We understand now that it has its roots in indentured servitude and the heinous mistreatment of the poor and destitute [link]. We know that this reflects a particular cultural mindset that brings us a rapacious and cruel capitalism undergirded by Calvinist sentiment. This is all on the record.

I’ve spoken of the backlash that awaits us for speaking out on the subject [link], and I have already dealt with those who see fit to target us when we do speak up [link]. I wish I could say that it is amusing to find myself referred to as the “Fred Phelps of international child welfare” [link]:


But it’s not.

I could spend time knocking down the comparison, revealing the idiocy of the inversion of power that it implies. I could speak of former friends who are no longer around for the mentality of people like Fred Phelps. I could echo Norman Finkelstein who, when questioned on his political stance against Zionism, simply replied: “To ask that question of me is filthy.” [link] In no way do I mean to compare my situation to Dr. Finkelstein’s. But I similarly would like to parse out a bit, as he did, what this statement means.

Katie Jay [link] knows or can readily know that I’ve spent 10 years in my place of birth. She can also gauge my thoughts on adoption which are spelled out quite clearly here. She can read and understand that I rarely invoke the personal aspect of my own adoption; that I try to reframe adoption historically, economically, and politically speaking. She can ascertain that when I do point out the personal, it is often in response to the wars that have been waged here by the United States and its proxy agents. She can believe me when I say that I would not wish my experience here this past decade on my worst enemy. She can know all of this.

What she fails to understand is why, given the reality of my birthplace, I might prefer to be here and not there. The reasons are complex, and she can also glean from my writing what these reasons are. Suffice it to say, anyone who might suggest to me now that I am “better off” there is speaking pure demagoguery. There is a reason for our returns, our rematriations, our searches—our suicides. And our adoptive places of acculturation have yet to come up with a response to this other than ostracism.

She brazenly titles her web site: “Children Deserve Families”. On this, I agree with her 100%. I deserved my Lebanese family. And that family deserves respect, not destruction. I would like to think that she makes this statement about “deserving families” in good faith. But she also has this to say:

Adoptions declined again for the 9th year in a row, as anti-adoption nuts team up with the US Department of State, and nationalist, ethno-centric sentiment sweeps the globe, keeping children institutionalized for life.

What does this give us? Nothing we haven’t heard before. To be against adoption makes us “crazy”. Our goal is to keep children in institutions. We “team up” and inflict this punishment on children. Our activism is somehow equated with the morally repugnant antics of Fred Phelps. The desire of countries to staunch the exportation of their children is belittled as “nationalist, ethno-centric sentiment”. Overlooking the implicit classism and racism of this statement, as well as the tacit ridiculousness of “arguing” on behalf of a dominant mode which shoves this treacle down our throats every second of every single day, we nonetheless know the statement she is making is much more than that. And it’s a filthy thing to say on her part.

In a journal paper I’ve just submitted for review, I state the following:

The act of adoption can be described as the distillation of an adoptive culture’s view of humanity. In terms of the U.S., we might define this humanity to be dismally perceived as an infinite population of “wretched refuse” living in the shadow of history awaiting salvation from an exceptionalist nation. Adoption is exalted within every part of the empire’s power structure. The legal, governmental, social, cultural, medical, religious, and mediated realms all assume adoption as the status quo, and all adapt themselves to facilitate and justify its predominant use at the expense of all other prevailing notions of human rights and ethics, as well as types of child care.

The fostering of children as a beneficent act of a warrior nation after the damage that it inflicts on the conquered becomes a recurrent trope within American mediated history. This was seen during World Wars I and II, the mediation of the atomic aftermath in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Korean and Viet Nam Wars, the “dirty wars” of the Caribbean and Central and South America, the vestigial Cold War, and currently the direct and proxy “wars against terrorism” in South Asia. Examples include the “moral adoption” of Norman Cousins; the Viet Nam War’s Operation Babylift; Harry Truman’s “Cold War” Hungarian orphan transfer, etc. In this light, adoption can be seen as a post-war public relations effort; a final and self-congratulatory “mopping up” operation.

Is it any accident that countries that shut off adoption find themselves eventually targeted economically and politically for their resistance to the needs of global human trafficking? Is it any surprise that adopters are silent concerning Ukraine? Is there something they know? That perhaps Ukraine’s adoption rate will tick up again, now that the country is being targeted for destruction by imperial powers? Is it any surprise that adoption hyenas in the United States and elsewhere are smacking their lips in anticipation of the prospect of “saving” a blond “Crusader baby” from the rubble of Syria, whose war has just staggered aimlessly into a fourth year?

Adoption is War. Whereas adoption formerly was the “endgame”, the denouement of conflict, it is now a precursive feint; it foretells an expected and highly anticipated result; it is a first lobbing of the annunciatory flare presaging wars yet to be waged; it is humanitarian imperialism, pure and simple. Katie Jay, and imperialists like her in CHIFF and elsewhere—on the payroll or gleefully just along for the ride—continue their declared war on humanity. And like slave traders or Daddy Warbucks profiteers whose source of income is being targeted, they are lashing out.

That they should rewrite history to suit their needs should not surprise us. We saw this during the recent presidential election, where Michelle Bachmann revealed J. Steven Wilkins as one of her inspirations [link]. Quoting from this article:

African slaves brought to America, he argues, were essentially lucky: “Africa, like any other pagan country, was permeated by the cruelty and barbarism typical of unbelieving cultures.” Echoing Eidsmoe, Wilkins also approvingly cites Lee’s insistence that abolition could not come until “the sanctifying effects of Christianity” had time “to work in the black race and fit its people for freedom.”

This is no longer ignorance. This is willful historical revisionism. As true advocates for children, we need to stop pretending that the argument is about these children or their welfare. We need to stop arguing back as if this is the case. We can no longer accept this straw man as valid. We need to shift the argument to a revelation of what the adoption vanguard truly desires of the world and for it.

To compare, it was Madeleine Albright who infamously stated that the invasion of Iraq was “worth it” when asked about the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of children killed by sanctions and war [link]. More locally, it was Condoleezza Rice who referred to the 2006 July War on Lebanon [link] as the “birth pangs of a new Middle East”. Norman Finkelstein referred to her as a “human freak” for equating the death of 500-plus children with childbirth [link]. Katie Jay finds herself in good company.

“The butcher of the children of Qana”; two-story poster hanging in downtown Beirut: 2006.

We currently have ample evidence that reveals that adoption is not “about children”. I no longer feel the need to argue about adoption along lines which take for granted its status quo acceptance. And I would like to go on the record as saying: As opposed to seeing adoption as a beneficent action, it can instead be stated that its very presence marks the failure of a society to care for those in need.

Period. That’s it. Case closed.

And so I would also like to turn this question around and ask Katie Jay and her fellow CHIFFsters: Please, explain your society’s failure. Please, for once and for all, explain the boundless love your political class has for the spilled blood of children at home and around the world; for that of their families and communities. If I were to list these out by name, I would catalogue a sad and endless history of the countries and communities pillaged by adoption and ravaged by your sponsored wars, on your watch and with your approval. There is no coincidence here. Please, I beseech and implore you, explicate your heinous advocacy for these, the hundreds of thousands of children that you maim, bomb, starve, poison, murder, and slaughter year in and year out. Do they not also “deserve families”?

This is the question; here lies the debate. And such is her hypocrisy, which stinks to high heaven.

For an “update” on the sources of this reactionary language from 1975 in Lebanon, see: Lebanon, 1975: Adoption is War II: https://danielibnzayd.wordpress.com/adoption-is-war-ii/


About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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12 Responses to Lebanon, 2015: Adoption is War I

  1. Pingback: Petards Anyone? CHIFF Mouthpieces Hoist Themselves on Twitter | The Daily Bastardette

  2. Lisa says:

    Thank you, Daniel, for your incredible insight.

    I am raising two children from Ethiopia as a result of international adoption, and serve as unofficial guardian to two young adults whose adoptions did not work out (in their cases, they found me rather than my seeking them out). Not one of the four adoptees living in my home had anything resembling an ethical adoption. Ultimately, none of them should have been adopted. It pains me to say that, but it is true. The must deal every day of their lives with what has happened to them: being ripped from their families, their culture, their language — from everything they had ever known. Their families in Ethiopia must deal with the pain of separation. And I deal with the guilt of being party to a system that exploits children.

    Please do not read this as an indication that I do not love the amazing children and young people in my care, because I do, with all of my heart and soul. But it is because of that love that I can look into their eyes and know that they have been hurt and that they deserved so much better. They have lost so much. It simply isn’t fair to them, and no amount of love from me and my husband will ever come close to filling the deep chasm in their souls.

    This is why I am adamantly opposed to CHIFF and why I am so grateful to you and many other international adoptees for taking such a strong stance against it. It does nothing but improve the chances of further exploitation of children and families of origin. And then there are the issues of white privilege and Neo-colonialism, which you speak to with such clarity and knowledge.

    Thank you, Daniel. Thank you and the many other adult adoptees who are speaking out on behalf of children.

  3. Lesley Earl says:

    thank you well done and written.

  4. maddogmarley says:

    This is an incredible essay, Daniel. Thank you. It’s interesting that the CHIFFers (well, at least one of them) find you such a threat and have now accused you of “hate speech.” The arrogance!

  5. Thank you all most kindly. I think it is important here to put a bit of the burden on adoptive parents. As the class being catered to and spoken in the name of by CHIFF and groups like them, you are the ones in a prime position to speak up and out concerning the juggernaut they lead against the countries you may have adopted from. This Katie Jay has now accused me of “hate speech”, and I dare say that once again I find myself criticizing someone of the professional class with the means at their disposal to cause much in the way of grief and harm if they so wish. Those on their side of the class power differential need to state this case perhaps louder and more clearly than we are able to in terms of the status quo and the dominant mediated mode.

  6. ‘Adoption Is War’ Daniel, let me start out by applauding you for all you have done and will continue to do with the blessings of God. Also for the encouragement you’ve given t o Adoptees such as myself. I plan to make it my business to help spread the misconceptions of Adoption and help shed light on the negatives also, that outweighs the (so called) ‘goodness of it all’. I am aware that you do not seek personal gain nor accolades for your passion and work, but let me say THANKYOU for what you have done for me in such a brief aquaintance. Thanks again Brother!

  7. I’m so glad I’m getting to know you, even if through this impersonal medium.

  8. Pingback: Children Deserve Families | Holt Adoption Product:

  9. Pingback: Adoption is War. | Terre Libanaise

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