A couple of years ago I received a heartbreaking email from an American woman called Shannon.
Shannon’s father was a Libyan exchange student in the 70s and dated her mother and they had a child. Apparently he either did not know his girlfriend was pregnant when he left or knew and could not face his folks back home. Whatever the story Shannon’s parents were in their first year of college, so they must have barely been 18-19 if not younger.
In those days Libya used to send students with a distinction (and others who simply graduated)from high school to American universities and colleges. It probably was a big deal for the guy to actually have a girlfriend and enjoy things he would not normally do at home.
Although a large number of Libyan male students ended up marrying their American girlfriends as attested by the many Libyan-American marriages we have, this guy must have been too young to marry and he probably went back home too quickly being simply an exchange student. I’m not trying to excuse him, but just to put a perspective on what might have happened.
So Shannon’s mum gave her baby up for adoption because her own mother forced her to. It seems that adoption in the US in those days kept the child in total ignorance of who his/her parents are; which is something that Shannon has suffered from heavily. Shannon who did not know her origin met with some racism and bigotry in the USA where she was born and raised American (after all she is half American).
She says : “obviously I was raised in the US but not just the multi-culture US [but]Missoula Montana where there is no culture except native American and straight up white American”. Since I did not want to take her word for it - a simple Google search shows that 93.57 % are white according to this.
I am hoping she was not traumatically discriminated against as I understand that America is a land where racism has been eradicated and any reference to it is vigorously wiped out or punished by the civil society.
I have not done much research on it , though from the Mel Gibson case I have understood that for example Jews have a special standing and anything that would insult them is forbidden because they suffered so much in WWII. Accordingly I assume that other minorities are treated in the same manner and defended just as much as Jews since they are just as important in America, where everyone is American regardless of ethnicity, religion, race or origin. But, this post is not about racism, so kindly don't dare any of you turn it into one, the racism post is in the pipeline but not just yet.
So Shannon wrote to me looking for a friend from Libya to learn about Libya and Islam. I offered her help in finding her dad but it turns out she had found him and her mum too. I was so mad and sad at the same time at how can a Libyan child be raised by strangers and in total ignorance of her heritage, ancestry and religion and where she has no opportunity to make a choice.
This feeling of loss has resulted in Shannon having a messed up life in which she too had to give her baby for adoption as a teenage pregnant mother. But although at least this time her daughter Chariti has a better life, I view it as another Libyan blooded granddaughter lost somewhere in America! Another tragedy . Shannon struggled hard to make a decent life for herseolf. She has started her own blog a while back to come to terms with her story and to campaign for the right of adopted children to know their lineage and biological parents. Bravo Shannon. She also was published and is writing a book.
This is an excerpt from 'Ethiopian poet, playwright and author Lemn Sissay, 39, [who] was raised by a white family in the north of England. Here he tells how his life often felt like an experiment.' [ref] I found it relevant to the topic.
"I remember my mother often saying to me: "Don't look at me with those big
brown eyes." She probably never meant it negatively but it meant that I grew
up with a fear of my own eyes.
Shannon has found out that in Islam ‘adoption’ is different than in the Western world . Basically the children if of known parents keep their surname and are cared of as one of the family (or in an orphanage if there is no family) but always know whom they belong too originally . I think this is better because sometimes people might end up falling in love with their genetic siblings which is incest in many cultures and religions - as witnessed in this much publicised story below:
"Twins who were separated at birth and raised by different families met later and married, unaware that they were brother and sister" [ref 1] .
" if you don't know you are biologically related someone, you may become attracted to them and tragedies like this may occur." [ref 2] And part of the attraction is because you are related so you already like each other a lot without knowing why. A good example is the German couple below which is even worse because they had children:
" Patrick Stübing, an unemployed locksmith, and his sister Susan have had four children together since starting a sexual relationship in 2000. Three of the children are in foster care, and two have unspecified disabilities.
The couple, who live near Leipzig, grew up separately and only met many years later. Their supporters say they will fight until incest is no longer regarded as a criminal offence, arguing that the law is out of date." [ref 3]
Basically I think Islamic adoption law is fairer and more just. You will get a more balanced individual who would not be always racking his/her brain ‘who am I?’ . I mean we already have enough identity problems as it is without adding another dimension.
This story has made me wonder how many unknown Libyan kids there are out there, it has also reminded me how much I get angry when some foreign mothers (mostly of so called Western origin) who finding that life in the ME is not exactly what they had in mind decide to leave and raise their children in the West. They resort to literally 'kidnapping' them because their governments give them immediate nationalities and protection. They end up raising kids who are estranged from their heritage and are simply other Europeans or (Americans). It made me think that my tribal mentality still prevails , kids born of Libyan fathers are first and foremost Libyan, then they can be something else - that's my personal opinion. Of course if the father is not Libyan then they belong to their father’s country foremost.
At this point I would like to say that no matter what was his excuse her father should have done the correct thing and married the woman and taken his daughter back home after divorcing her if she really did not to want a life with him or made other arrangements that would safeguard his own flesh and blood - because sometimes Libyans and other Arabs are accused of kidnapping if they even want their children back home for the summer or in cases of divorce and custody fights [ref 4, ref 5, ref 6 ]- (for the record in my opinion for children of international divorce if the father is Arab they should go back to the father point blank; if an Arab woman on the other hand marries a Western guy then she should weigh the consequence very well! but that's another post so I kindly request we don't overspill about it in the comment section because I will not post the comment).
To get back to the story I would lay the blame more on Shannon's biological Libyan father because he knew the rules of paternity and how important that is for us, while Shannon's mother only did what was normal in her city/country, namely give up the child for adoption as she had no means to shoulder the responsibility nor did her parents want to. After all she was barely a child herself. I am adamant that no child with a Libyan drop of blood should be left out.
Shannon found her dad , but he died in an accident before she could meet him. I wish she had been able to come to Libya and get his surname and proudly wear it because that is rightfully hers even if she was born out of wedlock. I don’t care whether her parents were married or not she still has a right to his name and to the protection of the tribe, she is still our flesh and blood.
Go read her blog it sounds like a movie . I’m proud of you Shannon and hope to see you one day here in Tripoli. You’ve come a long way babe, and it' s good to see you blogging again.
May God bless you and keep you safe. Amen.
PH :) I think she qualifies as a Libyan blogger wa la' ?