I am an adult adoptee who has definitively come home. I was adopted at 3 weeks of age (officially; my timeline would say more likely two months) from the Crèche St. Vincent de Paul in Beirut in 1963[* fr|sp|ع]. I currently live and work in Beirut, (بيروت، بلاد الشام), where I teach illustration and art.
From what I know now of adoption and trafficking, I state the following:
Adoption is, in and of itself, a violence based in inequality. It is candy-coated, marketed, and packaged to seemingly concern families and children, but it is an economically and politically incentivized crime. It stems culturally and historically from the “peculiar institution” of Anglo-Saxon indentured servitude and not family creation. It is not universal and is not considered valid by most communal cultures. It is a treating of symptoms and not of disease. It is a negation of families and an annihilation of communities not imbued with any notion of humanity due to the adoptive culture’s inscribed bias concerning race, class, and human relevancy.
The adopted child is raised in a class position that politically, economically, and culturally negates that of his or her origins. In this way, we are similar to others likewise disempowered who are displaced and dispossessed for political and economic reasons: migrant workers, immigrants, refugees, nomadic peoples, etc. At the same time, we are educated to not see ourselves in this way; we are also given the burden of a class status that prevents in many ways our return; this distance creates an unbearable rupture from our source.
To claim the class status of our adoptive culture is therefore to complete the work of the missionaries, the oppressors, the traffickers, the racists, the Orientalists, and the imperialists. On the contrary, to reject it and return to our land of birth, our roots, is thus an imperative and an act of resistance and humanitarian common cause. No less unbearable, no less of a rupture, but necessary nonetheless.
A local proverb states:
يا مربي غير ولدك، يا باني في غير بلدك (أرضك)
You raising a child not your own, are as [the inhabitant in a town/the son of a country/the one on land] not his own.
This proverb resonates the meaning found in “inhabitant” which comes from the same root for “son/daughter”; one is a child of place as much as of family. It implies [falsely] building or constructing something on disconnected ground and faults the pretensions of the one so building. It ties back into the Qur’anic invocation that orphans know their filiation, their extended family, their community, their place.
Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to leave a comment below, or email: daniel [dot] ibnzayd [at] inquisitor [dot] com
In 2009, I founded the artists’ collective Jamaa Al-Yad [جمع اليد]. In Arabic this literally means “hand coming together”, but connotes the clenched fist which we take as a symbol of revolution and resistance.
More recently I joined a group of transracial and transnational adoptees in establishing Transracial Eyes. This web site acts as a repository of Voices that are rarely heard for the dominant discourse on adoption. As we say, “of course race and culture matter”.
*J’ai été adopté à l’âge de 3 semaines à la Crèche de Saint Vincent de Paul, Beyrouth en 1963. J’aimerais entendre de toute personne qui a été adopté du Liban. Je parle français.
Yo fui adoptado quando tenía 3 semanas del hogar de huerfanos San Vincent de Paul en Beirut, en 1963. Me gustaria mucho tener noticias de todas las personas que tambien fueron adoptados en el Libano. Hablo español.