White Savior Syndrome™

(or: “The Journalistic Stunt of Trafficking Syrian Children”)

In a recent article written for Information Clearing House [link], Franklin Lamb states: “I confess to having purchased four children near Ramlet el Baida beach recently from a stressed-out Syrian woman.” The article goes on to describe the illegal practices of brokering, bartering, purchasing, and trafficking children. The eventual goal seems to be a “re-homing” of these young ones, with the side benefit of a journalistic coup in terms of self-promotion. In this light, Franklin Lamb represents the very worst of “white savior syndrome”, and reveals a complete inability to understand his privilege as a foreigner in this region. Most of all, his own “shock” belies decades of adoption/trafficking practice that has taken place here and elsewhere in the region and world, and only exposes his own distance from this reality.

As one of the earliest of children adopted via Lebanon (we are not all “Lebanese”), I am myself shocked that so-called progressives still consider the purchasing of children to be a viable act of charity or beneficence. Furthermore, their ignorance of the history of this trafficking—the connections of adoption/trafficking to indentured servitude, the population of foreign colonies, the eradication of Indigenous peoples—indeed, the very connection between rampant anti-human capitalism and the trade of flesh/DNA no matter how formalized and mythologized, puts them in the same league as fascistic societies which do not bother with such niceties and formalities, much less myths of “forever families”. Whereas Spain, Chile, Argentina, Lebanon, and Israel (among others) have historically elevated the targeting of internally seen-as enemy populations via adoption to a state priority, progressives in the so-called West continue to uphold the mythology of this trafficking/adoption as having “saved” children. This must come to an end.

Like Mr. Lamb, I, too, arrived in Lebanon as an “American”, and have spent 12 years attempting to undo that acculturation. Unlike other ex-pats here, I categorically refuse to hire slave labor (in the form of, for example, Ethiopian women, whose children are also targeted for dispossession and disinheritance), much less brag about it. I have come to know as friends and brothers many Syrian workers in this country, and they are the first ones to tell me that what happened to me was “haram“—”wrong”, in the sense of unjust but also forbidden. That Mr. Lamb cannot fathom the impossibility of how difficult it will be to integrate these children into Lebanese society reflects his distance from the street, and his ignorance of the racism and sectarianism that rules the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to not be seen as valid by the Lebanese nation-state and its elites. That this holds true for adoptees from this country should give us great pause.

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Clinton, Reagan, AIDS, and Hell

I saw this revisionist history on MSNBC:

Hillary Clinton: The Reagans, particularly Nancy, helped start “a national conversation” about HIV and AIDS. [link]

Given the fact that at the time of the Reagans’ reign, the majority of those dying from AIDS were minority women, and that major activist groups split along racial lines in order not to deal with this reality, this was a stupefyingly obscene thing to say. It brought to mind a prose poem I wrote on June 5, 2004 when Ronald Reagan died:

A eulogy for Ronald Reagan: May he rot in hell

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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.

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On regaining Lebanese nationality.

In my current research, I’ve been looking into various conceptions of citizenship, the nation-states of source and adoption, as well as the ephemeral nature of what makes for adoptee identity and sense of belonging. Coincidentally, I recently submitted the last of the paperwork required to regain my nationality (a scan of my adoptive father’s passport) to my lawyer. When the process is complete, I will have established a legal precedent for others to follow. As informed by friends of all stripes, I will also have made of myself a complete laughing stock, compared to most everyone else who is trying to leave this place.

Be that as it may, my recent success with DNA testing, along with rapidly changing scenarios of what makes for “citizenship” (read: economic potential and allegiance) in receiving countries actually had me reconsidering completely going through with the process—too much seemed at stake. In the end, I think the precedent is worth the effort after all of these years, and as many immigrants can attest, having a nationality and claiming an “identity” based on that nationality are two entirely different subjects of discussion.

What follows is an overview of some of what I’ve been grappling with. Some of it is personal, some of it is unique to Lebanon, much of it will ring true for international adoptees at least, and I hope that it might provide a starting point for discussion on the subject of the responsibilities of adoptive parents and agencies in not just naturalizing children, but in questioning their very role in perpetuating statelessness, dispossession, displacement, and disinheritance.

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Lebanese Adoptees: Books

The following list is devoted to books by Lebanese adoptees, usually in the language of receiving country, but often translated into one or more languages currently spoken in Lebanon. I do not wish to review the books, and obviously I do not always share the same viewpoint on adoption as the authors. I do wish to acknowledge the variety of such viewpoints, and at the very least, the common thread among them, which is the search for origins.

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@7kiJelis — الاتجار بالبشر تحت غطاء التبني

From @lbciLebanon with @Badael_Alternat:

More info: http://www.badael-alternatives.org/

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Adoption in the Lebanese Context: A Proposal

I am posting here a small excerpt from my proposal to the Asfari Institute entitled: Adoption in the Lebanese Context: 
Practices of Extirpation and Their Impact 
on Kinship, Community, Citizenship, and Identity. I’ve already expanded it into a full research proposal, and the Legal Agenda translated an abridged version which appeared in the newspaper supplement to As-Safir newspaper [link: التبني كأحد مظاهر الإختفاء القسري].

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Posted in Adoption activism, Adoption resistance | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Asfari Institute/AUB fellowship

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.

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On the new adopter narratives.

As adoptees, we are used to this drill. Adoptive parents, in a fit of what they believe to be enlightenment, deem themselves worthy of writing up our adoption experiences. These narratives are designed to be consumed by those of the very class which allowed our adoption in the first place. Ironically, we are left out of this equation, and this becomes the flip side of a double-edged sword should we decide to try to turn this narrative around. This results in our further rejection, the inscribing of our “outlier” status, and the realization that “flipping scripts” is as useless as it is impossible. We need to learn from our own histories, as well as those of every other group that has experienced such a thing. Our Voices on some level have been heard, and the response to it is as strategic and tactical as it is silencing. Despite being brought into another family and often society, we remain, for all intents and purposes, Outsiders.

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Posted in Adoption resistance | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Research/writing at @academia [updated]

I’ve uploaded papers, conference presentations, articles, etc. to Academia.edu [link to Academia.edu]; I hope this will serve as a more central repository of output than my various blogs/web sites.

View main page: [link to Academia.edu]

Thanks for reading.

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