Monday, January 16, 2012

Zeina: Found book tour

My name is Zeina Sultan, I am an adoptive mother of 3 from Kuwait. I am raising 2 daughters and one son. Since Kuwait is a Muslim Country we do not have adoption; we are more of caregivers - If I may call it - the only difference is that being caregivers we cannot give the children our family name and they will not inherit us. There is no such thing as open adoption in Kuwait, we know nothing about our children, most of them are found at mosques, parking lots, or on the street. Almost in all cases the parent are unknown because children are not born in hospitals, but everywhere else depending on how much support the birth mother has and children with known mothers are not given out for adoption.

In my case, my first two were born to unknown families. So they get all their papers on time - birth certificate, passport and ID. My third daughter (2 years old)  has a case in the court because they suspect the mother is known.. and again because she gave in a fake ID when she delivered her daughter. So this little one will never get any papers until her case is settled and she's titled as a child of unknown parents. It's not a fast procedure, I insisted on taking her so as to give a chance to get educated.

On pp 17-18, Jennifer talks about a baby searching for her mother after being born. How did this sensory-rich passage strike you? What thoughts did it trigger about the role you play in adoption?

This is not the first book where I read that same info.. it shocked me the first time.. and struck me every time I read it.. such a painful feeling. I thought back to my kids. The second book I read, was a research done on adopted children, and the idea has been proven to be true.. the baby looks for his birth mom.. the baby has memory of her scent, and heart beat.. again, I look back at my children and remember clearly how my daughter Noor had a melt down when she first met my in laws.. and had a few several unexplainable incidents afterwards.

I remember clearly how my son woke up every night at a certain hour crying continuously.. as if he fell off the bed.. and I could not calm him.. I just held him tightly and told him how much I loved him.

I still get tears in my eyes thinking how painful is the emptiness of that spot. The birth mom's spot.. it does not get smaller, it will never go.. will always be there, saved for her.

I am grateful to have read this from Jennifer - an adoptee. She sort of confirmed what I had previously read.. and I believe now I have a very good reason telling my kids about being adopted and their birth family.. it will help them understand why they are different, feel better - I hope - having my support.. and hopefully they will appreciate my honesty one day.

My question is about Jennifer's early adoption narrative as "God's gift". because I see my adopted son as a gift from God. Jennifer turns this metaphor on its ear when after hearing her brother's declaration, "You're adopted and gypsy trash". She seems to suggest that that early narrative was misleading and, ultimately, the cause of her feelings of inadequacy and failure because she was unable to save her mother's life. How do you talk your children about their adoption story, particularly when they are very young and unable to grasp all of life's complexities?

I totally agree with Jennifer regarding the God's gift issue.. I never thought it a good idea.. They have the right to know the truth.. they need to figure out how to deal with it.. and you'll be happy to be there to help. And remember that the shortest way is always the best way of saying something.. we have a saying in Arabic: always start with what you fear most, and if it was painful there is no "easier" way to explain something painful. You can always show your support, love and understanding. They will always need their space, and it'll be helpful to remember that they are not a copy of you, but different individuals who need to find out who they are.. love and lots of love, acceptance and support are what they need most.

The second issue I found useful with my children was me dealing with my personal issues of infertility and the "why me" feeling. Especially that I've always been surrounded by children, taking care of them and baby sitting, teaching…etc. My dream has always been having 12 kids. Once I got my personal issues cleared, I became more creative with their feelings and issues.. I was able to help them better. .

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.


Susan said...

Zeina, I have thought so little about how adoption works in other cultures. I appreciate reading your description of how it works in a Muslim country.

I love how you respond to the idea that an adopted child's loss of his or her first mom is profound: "I believe now I have a very good reason telling my kids about being adopted and their birth family." You seem determined to help your children understand who they are and where they came from, though the details are limited. I believe that is a gift every child deserves.

Rhonda Rae Baker said...

I love this post and what you have said touches the deepest part of me. Somehow, I feel that your adopted children are going to be just fine. They have a beautiful mother in you and everything is going to work out for you all. I'm encouraged by what you wrote and feel a sense of healing within. Thank you Zeina!

Melynda said...

What an interesting look into another culture, and how parentless children are cared for. I am deeply moved by your willingness and determination to help your children overcome whatever obstacles they may encounter in life. With you at their side, they will do well as they come to terms with their beginning, just as Rhonda said.

Thank you so much for sharing your unique perspective with us!

Lavender Luz said...

We were dealing with infertility and investigating adoption while living in Syria. We were told that there were no adoptions done there. I could not fathom that.

Thank you for filling us in about the situations with your children.

Blessings to you and your family, Zeina!

jennifer said...

You understand, 150%. Thank you for this absolutely beautiful and pitch perfect post.

Tonya said...

Thanks for your insight into how other cultures handle adoption. I loved reading your thoughtful comments.

Judy said...

Hi Zeina,

Thank you for sharing how "adoption" transpires in another culture. You have a beautiful heart.

Jenn said...

Great post! Thank you for sharing your perspective. I really liked what you had to say :-)

zeina said...

Thank you for your encouraging comments.. I really feel better about the way I am handling my kids.. and hope to GOD they grow up healthy and happy.
Appreciate your words..