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»  Canada Adopts!   » International Adoption: Overseas   » US couple who wanted to adopt on trial in Egypt

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Author Topic: US couple who wanted to adopt on trial in Egypt
Nicole73
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posted 05-16-2009 07:56 AM     Profile for Nicole73   Email Nicole73     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
US couple who wanted to adopt on trial in Egypt

2009-05-13 02:25:02 -

CAIRO (AP) - An American couple, Iris Botros and Louis Andros, thought they were finally reaching their dream of having a child when they came to Botros' homeland, Egypt, to adopt twin orphans. Instead they found themselves in a cage in a courtroom, on trial for alleged child trafficking.

The pop star Madonna's attempt to adopt a second child from the African country of Malawi has shown how complicated international adoptions can be.

But in Muslim countries like Egypt, such adoptions are nearly impossible, snarled in religious tradition and murky laws. Botros and Andros, who live in Durham, North Carolina, also may have been caught up in an attempt by the Egyptian government to show it is cracking down on human trafficking after criticism from the United States.

The trial of Boutros, Andros and another couple is the first of its kind in Egypt. In the tangle of the country's regulations and customs, even lawyers are unsure whether adoption is allowed.

«I don't know if it is legal or illegal. Really, I don't know,» said Aameh Saleh, the Egyptian lawyer representing Botros and Andros.
What is known is that Islamic law forbids adoption, and that is the law applied to Muslims in Egypt. The religion emphasizes maintaining clear bloodlines to ensure lines of patrimony and inheritance. At most, Muslims can take a child into long-term foster care, but such a situation does not allow the child to inherit from the foster parents.
Most often, orphans are informally taken in by their extended family, without any legal provisions. Almost all other Muslim countries in the Middle East have similar practices.

The law is far less clear concerning Egypt's Christian minority, to which Botros belongs. Adoptions within the Christian community _ including by Egyptian Christians living abroad _ do take place, usually involving a donation to a Christian orphanage. Proponents say this type of adoption is not explicitly banned, but still faces monumental barriers.

Many government officials are resistant to adoption _ believing it is not allowed _ and Muslim conservatives are opposed because they fear that Christians will adopt Muslim orphans and raise them as Christians.

The process is so long, confusing and tedious that the few Christians who try it often turn to backdoor methods like forgeries and bribes, sometimes organized by churches and mainly Christian orphanages.

«Adoption is organized throughout Egypt, through the churches,» Saleh said. «The government knows about it all the time but turns a blind eye. Botros, 40, and Andros, 70, likely thought they could do the same. «She wanted to adopt children. She came to Egypt where there are so many poor and orphans,» said Iman Faltass, Botros' aunt, who also lives in Durham. «I lived in Egypt until college and I knew people who adopted kids. It was simple and not illegal.

The couple, who own a Greek restaurant in Durham, tried for years to have a child and attempted to adopt in the U.S., where the two married 15 years ago, said Saleh. But several factors stood in their way, especially Andros' age.
On the advice of Egyptian friends, the two traveled to Cairo in the fall and were put in touch with a Coptic Christian orphanage that was caring for two newborn orphans.

The orphanage gave them forged documents to say Botros had given birth to the children, and the couple donated $4,600 to the orphanage, Saleh said. In November, Botros and Andros brought the twins, whom they named Victoria and Alexander, back to their temporary home in a mostly Christian neighborhood of Cairo.

But when they tried to get American passports for the babies, a U.S. Embassy employee became suspicious of them, Saleh said. When asked by an embassy official, Botros admitted she wasn't the biological mother, the lawyer said.

The couple was turned over to Egyptian police, who questioned them for several days before formally arresting them in December. The charges leveled against them were far more serious than either expected _ child trafficking, forging documents and trying to smuggle people out of the country. The two could face up to seven years in prison if convicted. In their first court session in March, Botros and Andros appeared in a metal cage in the courtroom _ as defendants in Egyptian courts are always held during hearings _ and pleaded not guilty. They are to appear for a second session on Saturday.

Several doctors and orphanage administrators have also been charged. A second couple _ Suzan Hagoulf, an American of Egyptian origin, and her Egyptian husband Medhat Metyas, who have been living in Egypt since 2003 _ were also arrested in December.

Hagoulf and Metyas adopted a newborn from the same orphanage almost a year ago, according to their lawyer, Naguib Gibrail. When they wanted to visit the U.S. in late 2008, they applied at the U.S. Embassy, where officials asked for a DNA test on the child. The couple were reluctant to present one, and the embassy notified Egyptian police, Gibrail said.

Gibrail said he did not know where the couple had lived in the U.S. before coming to Egypt. They were charged with forging documents in their adoption _though not with child trafficking because their donation of about $70 to the orphanage was so much smaller than the other American couple's, the lawyer said, adding his clients deny any involvement in child smuggling.

«I know so many people who adopted children in Egypt but they were all kept secret,» Gibrail said. The lack of a clear legal way for Christians to adopt «is pushing these people to forge documents. The state is pushing these people to commit a crime,» he said.

Saleh says his clients, Andros and Botros, don't know the other couple. He said Andros and Botros didn't realize they were doing anything wrong, saying Botros asked workers at the orphanage if the process was legal and they assured her it was. Saleh noted that Botros has not lived in Egypt for 15 years and her husband
has no connection to the country, so they were not acquainted with the country's laws.

The orphanage has been closed by authorities since the couple was arrested, and its managers could not be found for comment.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo would not comment on the case. According to the State Department, few Egyptian children are adopted by American citizens. In fiscal year 2008, the U.S. issued two Egyptian orphans immigrant visas, which must be obtained for internationally adopted children to enter the United States, according to U.S. government figures.

Given that most adoptions are clandestine, it was not possible to get figures on children adopted by citizens from other countries or adopted domestically within Egypt.

Some speculate that Egypt may be using the case to show the world it is fighting human trafficking. The U.S. and Israel have criticized Egypt in recent years for not doing enough to stop the flow of African migrants to Israel in search of jobs and a better life. The arrests came soon after Egypt's First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, launched a highly publicized campaign against human trafficking.

«The United States describes Egypt as a country of transit for human
trafficking. The government wants to clear itself of this,» Saleh said.

Egyptian officials did not respond to several requests by the AP to be
interviewed. Egypt's minister of family and population, Moushira Khatab, told parliament this spring that the country should reconsider its laws pertaining to orphans and adoption. But she didn't elaborate.

Adoption experts said the case highlights the importance of being well-informed and working with governments and reputable agencies to make sure laws and social norms are followed.

«Every country whether we like it or not, whether it's good or not, whether it's healthy or not, every country has the right to make its own laws and if you are in that country, you are obligated to follow those laws,» said Adam Pertman, executive director of the New York-based Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, an advocacy group that researches ways to improve adoption policies.

Now Botros and Andros are in separate cells during their trial, allowed to write short letters to each other, which are delivered by guards, Saleh said. The babies now live with 60 other children in a Cairo orphanage.

«She called me once and she was so excited when she had the kids. She wastelling me how beautiful they are and how she loved them,» said Faltass, Botros' aunt in North Carolina.

«I can't understand how this is a crime.


Posts: 1967 | From: Toronto, Ontario | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ibn Zayd
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posted 08-29-2009 04:27 PM       Edit/Delete Post
As someone adopted from a predominantly Muslim country (Lebanon) and who has since returned to his land of birth to live, I find the bias in this article against Islam to be particularly infuriating. To state "snarled in religious tradition" is to maintain the current dominant discourse that all things Islamic are uncivilized, backward, not modern. Anyone who opens up any random page of the Qur'an will likely find one of the hundreds of invocations concerning orphans; it is not only about bloodlines, it is about protecting the most vulnerable members of a community.

From an article I wrote on the subject:

quote:
Many of us recall being informed that we are fortunate since adoption is not allowed “among the Muslims”. Raised believing in the supremacy of the couple and child(ren)-based social unit, the very idea of growing up in an orphanage, with no “family”, or otherwise under “guardianship”, is unfathomable, if not horrifying. Since moving back to Lebanon three years ago, I have realized that the Qur’anic invocation concerning adoption has everything to do with children maintaining their lineage, their name, and their place in the community. Most remarkable then is the fact that these very concepts–of lineage, name, appearance, and original community–are the issues that most plague adult adoptees.

As a likely victim of child trafficking here in Lebanon, I can't believe that countries are not supporting the stance of the Egyptian government in this regard. That Israel, which has one of the highest rates of illegal human trafficking (mostly women prostitutes from Eastern Europe) has anything to say on the matter is sheer lunacy.


Re-Evaluating Adoption: Validating the Local


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NovaLynn
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posted 08-29-2009 11:25 PM     Profile for NovaLynn   Email NovaLynn     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Please remember that this is a CANADIAN adoption forum. We welcome adoption stories, information, and opinions, but please leave the rhetoric outside of this forum. Any articles published in major newspapers are posted here; it is up to the reader to make their own opinions. Thank you.
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Ibn Zayd
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posted 08-30-2009 07:18 AM       Edit/Delete Post
Yes, I understand that this is a CANADIAN discussion board. The story, however, involves AMERICANS adopting from EGYPT; I too am adopted from this region and wanted to add some clarification. Can you define please what is meant exactly by "rhetoric"? Does "rhetoric" in Canada mean anything that is critical of Israel? Because I noted that you deleted my link to an Israeli newspaper critical of Israeli human trafficking abuses, but not my other link. Thank you for your assistance.
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NovaLynn
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posted 08-30-2009 09:03 AM     Profile for NovaLynn   Email NovaLynn     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
As one article actually had to do with adoption, it applied to this forum and stayed. Very interesting article. Canada is a Hague Country and has been for quite awhile. Our rules and policies are not those of Americans. We try to stay neutral on this forum, to provide information and assistance.
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Road Warrior
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posted 08-31-2009 10:30 AM     Profile for Road Warrior   Email Road Warrior     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
I could be completely wrong here, but I seem to remember that Muslim or Arabic culture states that if a woman feeds a new born for a certain number of days it is considered to be hers. Does anyone know this? It is possible that I could have the wrong group of people, but I'm thinking that would be one form of adoption that could work within the existing laws and allow people to build their families.
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Nicole73
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posted 08-31-2009 11:11 AM     Profile for Nicole73   Email Nicole73     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
I have never heard that before, but it sounds more like a social/cultural tradition, than legal or religious.
Nicole

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Ibn Zayd
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posted 09-06-2009 06:35 PM       Edit/Delete Post
You are referring to the "milk bond", or wet nursing. Wet nursing does not mean "adoption", and the wet nurse does not claim the child as hers.

The problem is not with the culture, but with your definition of "adoption" and "family". There is no adoption within Islam as would have the Anglo-Saxon definition, coming from a nuclear family and focused on the individual. The extension of family to a wet nurse does not preclude the rights of the child's mother; it simply extends the family to the wet nurse. This is a completely different concept.

Likewise, the orphanage (ideally speaking, and in terms of Qur'anic teaching) is an extension of the community to its most vulnerable members; there are hundreds of invocations in the Qur'an concerning the orphan, most notably as regards adoption:

"[AS FOR your adopted children,] call them by their [ascendent] fathers' names....and if you know not who their fathers were, [call them] your brethren in faith and your friends." --Al-Ahzab, 33:4

"NONE are their mothers save those who gave them birth." --Al-Mujadalah, 58:2

This at first strikes Western ears as being harsh, and "anti-adoption". But the communal nature of culture here is completely different, and cannot be judged thorugh this lens.

There are invocations for the safe transfer of a child to a foster-care situation (or "guardianship", as it is usually translated) but this does not negate the child's bond to its family, its lineage, its identity, or its community.

Ironically, these concepts, inherent to the Islamic notion of caring for an infant, are what is missing from the Anglo-Saxon concept, and are what most plague adult adoptees taken from their communities overseas.


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Road Warrior
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posted 09-07-2009 01:50 AM     Profile for Road Warrior   Email Road Warrior     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Salam Aleykum, as my good Iraqi friend tells me I should first say.

I am not referring to the milk bond. It must be a different culture I am remembering, because it definitely wasn't a wet nurse. The story came from the USA. There were 2 babies that had somehow been mixed up and given to the wrong families and it was only when was was ill and came back to the hospital that they realized what had happened. One mother was very upset because in her culture the baby was considered hers. As I said, it was a long time ago, so I certainly could have my information wrong.

I am curious, Iban Zyad, do you think there can be a positive outcome to this couples situation? Could they be allowed to parent a child if the name did not change. We do have other contributers here from time to time that are anti-adoption, just as we have adoptees who become supports of adoption. We value all options, even if we do get our backs up on some topics.


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Ibn Zayd
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posted 09-07-2009 10:48 AM       Edit/Delete Post
w aleykum assalam.

Your question is still kind of loaded, I mean, in that you are assuming that the actualization of the adoption is the desired and best result, whereas I would argue the opposite....

What I am more trying to point out is that this couple, with their idea to adopt, are at an advantage in the sense that the culture they want to adopt from does not necessarily have a problem with guardianship, if the child is raised within the community. Their culture, on the other hand, has no problem severing the child's ties to his or her community and family, removing the child from his or her place.... In this regard, it is predatory culturally speaking, and in my mind, no different than all of the colonial predation that also sought to extract other natural resources from the region--it is treating children like product. They are leveraging an economic, political, and cultural inequality to their advantage. That no one sees this as problematic in any way is mind-boggling to me.

I guess what troubled me was the article seeming to say that Islamic culture does not want what is best for its most vulnerable--when the exact opposite is the case.


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Road Warrior
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posted 09-10-2009 12:21 AM     Profile for Road Warrior   Email Road Warrior     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Do we know the race of the couple? I ask because I have friends who adopted from China and they are themselves Chinese Canadian, living here in a largely Chinese community. Here at home they see the same faces, eat the same foods and speak the same language they did in China. If the couple were of Egyptian backgrounds, would they have been less likely to go to jail? Do you think anyone should have really gone to jail, or just educated in the law and sent home? I truly am interested in all views.
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NovaLynn
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posted 09-10-2009 05:48 AM     Profile for NovaLynn   Email NovaLynn     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
The mother was/is Egyptian, but a Christian, living in the U.S.A. They were attempting to adopt Christian babies through a Christian orphanage, in a Muslim country. Therein lies the conundrum.

I also have to wonder if their ages were what made them stand out; she is 40, and he is 70. If they had been younger, would their forged documents have been queried at all? It makes me wonder how many have gone through and never been questioned.


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Ibn Zayd
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posted 09-11-2009 01:56 AM       Edit/Delete Post
In what way does positing the exceptional case prove the general thesis? One Chinese-Canadian family adopts from China (still a huge simplification almost Disney-esque of what Chinese culture means) and therefore all adoption is okay?

Why do you assume that the children are Christian because it is a Christian orphanage? In my putatively Catholic orphanage in Beirut I stumbled once on a desk full of index cards that clearly showed that roughly fifty percent of the children were from Muslim families.

Which brings up the great unspoken of adoption from Muslim countries especially through so-called Christian charitable organizations: The desired "conversion" of non-Christian children.

I am not sure I get this kind of self-centered focus on how the parents might have "gotten around" the law, or the inability to consider that there is anything inherently problematic with adoption in the first place. You are claiming a desire to hear other opinions; you don't seem to listen too well.


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JazzyBC
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posted 09-11-2009 02:52 AM     Profile for JazzyBC   Email JazzyBC     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Ibn Zayd,

Please understand that you are attacking our belief system as well. No one wants to see a child torn from their home, family, community, country, religion or culture, we want children to have loving, stable homes, and we want the opportunity to provide that for children. You are again missing the point that laws and in many ways general ethics differ in Canada than they do in other countries as well. I do not know an adoptive, foster, transracial or mixed race family that does not do all they can to provide their child/children with an upbringing that includes their country and culture of origin. I am sorry if this was not your own experience as an adoptee.


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Road Warrior
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posted 09-11-2009 10:01 AM     Profile for Road Warrior   Email Road Warrior     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
I think we all recognize that adoption is "inherently problematic". The best case scenario for all children is to be raised in a loving family that can, with joy and skill, bring them into this world and see them to adulthood within their own culture.

Unfortunately, that is not always possible.

To me, a family is created in the hearts of those involved. The western act of adoption is a legal status to protect the safety of the child and privacy of the family. There is much stigma about adopted children and we, as parents, do our best to protect our children from the comments and actions of others.

Specifically in Canada, many years ago the first adoption laws came about law when a child who was raised by a couple who intented him to receive an inheritance was left with nothing after the parents who raised him passed away and distant relatives took the estate because laws at the time allowed it.

There is nothing Disney-esque about raising a child born to another. It is a long hard labour of a different kind to bring them home and it is often difficult raising them. Those of us who care for these children want to claim them and protect them. If the judge told us we had to give up everything and move to where the child is living and become part of their culture many of us would gladly do it.

Please don't misunderstand our intention. We do not want to take children from their families. We see that many children world wide are loved, cared for and happy in their birth families. We recognize that it is best if a child can be raised among their own people. But, we also know that there are many children out there who have no one to advocate for them and are at risk of many cruel things and people while we are here with open hearts and homes for them.

If you feel we are wrong in our ideals it is kindly meant with the best of intention. Please do not judge us harshly.


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NovaLynn
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posted 09-11-2009 03:01 PM     Profile for NovaLynn   Email NovaLynn     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
Ibn Zayed, hearing someone does not mean that they have to be agreed with. If you argue only your opinions, do not deride others for doing the same. Debate and discussion can be done easily without insult.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle


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Ibn Zayd
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posted 09-12-2009 05:39 AM       Edit/Delete Post
It's Zayd, not Zayed.

The condescending quotation from Aristotle I will ignore, as well as the implication that I am deriding anyone--I am very serious, you have no idea. I will only say that quoting Aristotle says more about a particular worldview, one that holds for oneself a sense of civilization, modernism, and a universalism that one also denies to others who directly contradict this worldview.

To say that adoption is part of a "belief system" is equally problematic, since it again states that given two belief systems that conflict, one wins out because it is the one of power and in control. Furthermore, the basic problem for those in the dominant discourse is exactly this--their belief system is never challenged, not by the media, not by the government, not by the medical, legal, and social systems in place. When it is challenged, the challenger--s/he who resists--is censored, or attacked, or destined for silencing of one kind or another. You have the entire culture backing you up; you don't get to paint yourselves as victims.

This brings us back to the article, which reveals more than anything this conflict of belief systems, and how those who don't support a dominant discourse are denigrated. But so be it. I am used to it.

I do not see how I am "missing any point" as concerns Canada. Just by virtue of saying "Canada", or "The Hague Convention" doesn't place you in some untouchable position of virtue. I am hard-pressed to imagine that as an Anglo-Saxon colony in the so-called New World that Canada's adoption laws can come from a different source than your neighbor to the south. Canadian adoption law followed closely the British model, and Canada also had its adoption version of the decimation of local ethnic populations. It is the height of arrogance and hubris to argue that you aren't doing to the Third World what you think you may have rectified in terms of your indigenous peoples.

The argument that you've created some kind of multicultural Shangri-La in Canada deserves serious attention. I have been writing a lot on this Anglo-Saxon derived false multiculturalism, which can be tied directly into economic destruction of true cultures around the globe. When I said "Disney-esque" I meant simply to say that China is not some monolithic cultural entity, and so striving to provide "culture" for one's adopted child is not the easy task you seem to think. The very local neighborhood I live in now in Beirut is completely different from the next one over, such that eating falafel does not make me "Lebanese". The attention you give to your various provinces and their local cultures means nothing if one does not see the rest of the world in this same light.

I'll thank you to not try and paint me as an aberration in your perfect adoption world. My personal experience has nothing to do with my argument, and you do not need to feel sorry for me. I very much resent this kind of dismissiveness, which does nothing to counter anything that I say, but is meant to cast me as some kind of exception to the general rule. I know a hundred or so adoptees from Lebanon; a few of us have moved back, most of share very similar takes on our experiences. I am aware that hundreds of adoptees have returned to Korea, and they have succeeded in shutting down Korean adoption as of 2012. Soon it will be the turn of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, China, Taiwan, etc. If anything, I am strengthened in my will by the commonalities I am finding among not only various international adoptees, but how our stories of dispossession and displacement match up with domestic adoptees, as well as other groups who have suffered such a fate as well at the hands of the dominant classes.

I am wondering then if we can agree on some basic premises:

Adoption is based in the leveraging of inequality by a dominant class in order to procure children for those who have none from those who ideally would keep their children except for circumstances that are a direct result of this class difference to begin with.

On the international level, this same class is the one that enables, funds, equips, provides for, and sustains economic and political wars around the world that result in the very "orphans" (who all have extended families) that you claim to "save" by adopting them (however you phrase it, and whatever terminology you use). You simply need to look up any of your birth countries of your adopted children in a book such as The Shock Doctrine to see how that country was targeted and destroyed economically and politically. That you might in your daily lives continue to act, live, consume, and go about living in general as if this destruction is in no way connected to your lifestyle is a mindboggling remove from reality.

Canada is one of the world's leading producers and exporters of advanced war technology. Their supplies to Lockheed Martin and Boeing helped ensure that lovely American bombs falling from lovely American planes rained down and destroyed the neighborhood just to the south of me, not to mention displaced a quarter of the Lebanese population, murdered 1100+ civilians a third of them children, and obliterated most of Lebanon's infrastructure during the July war of 2006. Your country has been covertly involved in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought American Exceptionalism was horrifying; I guess it has met its match across the border. How does adopting one child even begin to answer the millions of others killed by your government in complicit action with the rest of the economic first world?

So you'll forgive me if I find listening to this kind of high-handed do-goodism to be like pyromaniac firefighters complaining about how hard their work is, but someone's gotta do it.

When hundreds if not thousands of adoptees are advocating for the rights to unsealed birth certificates and the reunification of families, and when hundreds of us are returning to our lands of birth in order to reclaim a sense of identity and work to help undo some of the damage done to these forgotten places in the globe; when hundreds if not thousands of us are activated to help make the world a better place in the bigger picture because we are not so cynical to believe that "there is nothing we can do", and not just in terms of individual so-called happiness, or a joy-joy so-called perfect nuclear family, might it not behoove you to look at this work and perhaps join in and support it on this activist level--and not on the individual, and–sorry to say it--selfish level, which is just another symptom of the class differential I am describing?


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Ibn Zayd
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posted 09-12-2009 05:49 AM       Edit/Delete Post
Postscriptum: If you were to go back to your child's birth country as you say you would if forced to by law, and as I have done, giving up everything and starting over from nothing, then I think this conversation would be very different, and we might come to an agreement of some kind. I do not mean to challenge intentions, or what might be from the heart. Exactly the opposite--if it weren't for the support of my adoptive family--as painful as I know it might be for them sometimes--I wouldn't be writing these words to you now. But until the playing field is even in the adoption discussion, then nothing will change in this world.

as salamu aleykum.


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NovaLynn
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posted 09-12-2009 09:35 AM     Profile for NovaLynn   Email NovaLynn     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post
as-salaamu alaikum

Appologies on your name, my only excuse is that the doctors have sent me home as I am very sick. Not an excuse to you, I am sure. The quote is for all to take or leave as they wish.

I now feel that I can enter into your diatribe as my own person, and not just a moderator. My worldview is just that; the world, not a particular area and woe betide the rest of them. I have learned the art of agreeing to disagree. A closed mind does not gather all knowledge.

I have been to your area of the world. I have lived there. I have worked there. I have friends there. I have friends here, from there. I have volunteered at orphanages of differing religions, and visited schools. Your assumption is that we are all ignorant, un-learned Canadians; sitting on the couch at home, dreaming of stealing a child from their country.

Many here are advocating for changes to the adoption laws. In Canada, many areas have passed a law for access to their true birth certificate, with hopefully more areas to follow. Adoption is becoming less of a secret act and more of a community act, with open adoptions happening more as the norm than the exception. You can always educate yourself by finding out such things, instead of being caught up in that which the media spouts. I wish you luck on your endeavors for the same changes in your country with regards to access, insha Allah.

Shukran (thank you) for you input of your opinions and experiences. This thread is no longer discussing the original article, and so I am closing it. ma-asalama


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