Today I received a beautiful letter in my email. It is from the Asfari Institute located here at the American University of Beirut. It reads in part:
We are pleased to inform you that your fellowship proposal entitled: Adoption in the Lebanese Context: Practices of Extirpation and Their Impact on Kinship, Community, Citizenship, and Identity has been accepted for funding by the jury committee for the Asfari Institute of Civil Society and Citizenship. The Asfari Institute is pleased to support your fellowship.…On behalf of the American University of Beirut, we wish you ever success with the project, and we congratulate you on being chosen from a very competitive pool of applicants.
To say that I am overwhelmed would be an understatement. I think back on my decade-plus here, and I would never have imagined that this topic would be given such focus on so many fronts in such a short span of time. I have been extremely lucky during this time to have met so many adoptees from the Lebanese diaspora, way too many to thank individually, whose work and energy has been beyond inspiring and sustaining. The support of families and friends has, of course, been crucial to my ability to persevere with this topic.
Badael Alternatives and the Legal Agenda have my endless thanks for their acknowledgment of this issue and their true understanding of the big picture involved. I give a lot of credit to Al-Akhbar newspaper for publishing one of my first articles back in 2007, and to the Daily Star for using the word “trafficking” to describe a local situation that has remained stagnant of its own mythology for far too long.
I am especially thankful to Dr. Fateh Azzam and Dr. Rania Masri at the Asfari Institute for their patience, support, and encouragement. The strength of the proposal is in no small part due to discussions, critique, and input. It will be an honor and a privilege to work at the Institute on this project; I am greatly looking forward to the next six months. Gratitude as well goes to Romylynn Attieh, who is finishing her thesis on this very subject, and who has endlessly pushed me to think anthropologically beyond just politically and economically; this has opened many mental doors and has provided many giant steps forward.
Of course, way beyond the personal aspect is the incredible acknowledgment of so many locally speaking of the validity of the Voices of those adopted and trafficked from Greater Syria via Lebanon. That this comes from others equally displaced, dispossessed, and disinherited is extremely humbling. As an adoptee returned, I can barely express my emotions concerning this welcome “home” I’ve been privileged to receive. As I often say, those with less than nothing here have offered me everything and much more besides. Their solidarity gives me strength and keeps me going. Inch’allah someday I will be able to repay this great debt.