The 9th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference

Theme: Myth and Reality in Adoption: Transforming Practice Through Lessons Learned

Date: June 9–11, 2016

Location: Montclair State University, New Jersey

I will be presenting a paper entitled: “Citizenship and Statelessness: The Adoptee as Citizen, Denizen, Alien”; schedule to be announced. Registration, keynote speakers, and theme can be found at the web site; speakers and presentations coming shortly.

From my proposal:

In recent years we have entered into a secondary stage of problematic issues concerning adoptees and citizenship. Statelessness, deportation, returnee visas, repatriation/rematriation, etc.: the conceptual and practical results of adoption practice decades after the transaction require a revised understanding of the very notions of identity and citizenship.

Adoptees represent the “razor’s edge” between receiving and source populations. These continue to reflect the class disparity that has been at the core of this transfer of children and rupture of filiation. This transfer maps readily onto extirpative practices also based in economic and political class disparities.

The origins of the practice and its global expansion/universalization reveal an international “cosmopolitan class”. The divide between this class and those that source children denotes a difference in sheer political embodiment, between polis (those afforded recognition as functional citizens) and zoë (those who barely exist).

Via the adoption of children across borders and class strata, these dominant classes empower nation-state agency in defining “citizenship” and “belonging”, in a continuation of colonial and missionary actions.

The perpetuation of the practice is based in shared class interests that adhere to pricinples defining a liberal/neo-liberal order and globalization of this order. Adoption is thus added to a list of equally deleterious practices used against those deemed to be outside of (and thus useless to) the body politic.

This presentation is based on research within Lebanon concerning the legal status of those locally dispossessed, displaced, and disinherited. Comparison is made among these groups, as well as with other source countries. Based on this research, adoptees are revealed to be “second-class citizens”, with dubious ties to not only their source but also their receiving countries.

This presentation acknowledges the inherent aspects of kinship and family creation found within practices referred to as “adoption”, but similarly places these within socio-economic and political contexts. It examines base conceptions of citizenship and nation-state, and explores current issues and problems for adoptees whose very “statedness” and “embodiment” is being called into question.

Rather than proposing a formalized and status-quo citizenship from currently existing nation-states, questioned are the very economic and political bases of assigning such “belonging” in the first place. This provides us with sites of resistance for activists to explore and expand on, as well as to move past and break out of, in an effort to define a valid polis for all.

Greatly looking forward to the conference!


About Daniel Drennan ElAwar

Adoptee, rematriated.
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4 Responses to The 9th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference

  1. Rosine says:

    Will any of this be live streamed?

    • I recall having discussions at planning meetings concerning this. There’s a definite desire to reach more people, but there’s also a sense of undoing the conference itself—people might not register and attend. I lean toward the latter, personally. The technicalities of live streaming are quite demanding in many ways. Certain portions are videotaped, and all speakers must sign a release form concerning permission to be so taped. Most presentations later take form as papers, etc. I don’t know if I’m answering your question!

    • Rosine says:

      Thanks for responding. I totally understand, I just thought I’d ask. I’ll keep watching your posts and thoughts as well as what you’re learning and doing. Thanks Daniel.

    • It’s a great question, and one that we have debated….I’ll bring it up again! One other caveat I have is the sensitive nature of the topic; some might not feel comfortable in a made-public event….

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