This comment came in on the RAD discussion, and I thought it expanded nicely into a topic of discussion on its own:
Got to your Twitter feed somehow and have been reading some of your articles and wanted to share something that I guess is not necessarily on topic, some points resonated with me. I was born in Lebanon and moved when I was 5 years of age through a variety of English-speaking countries.
Trying to find myself within this alien situation was quite easy though, as I grew up, this did set me against one of my parent’s who I guess felt I was choosing nurture against my nature and brought with that its own struggle: Acceptance from the people around me or the people I come from or is it possible to do both?
Us expat Arab children would always sit together uncomfortably at soirees, which I always felt was a result of feeling like we should be talking like Arab children whilst our parents had grown up Arab conversations, with many unable to even speak the language. Maybe even a bit of inferiority complex from being around people who viewed you as different and alien took it’s toll on a few, though I had enough of the old country in me as a brace from the pressure of the environment (went back to Lebanon as one of the parents thought it would be a good idea for me and my siblings whilst still relatively young).
The only reason I was able to make it through without giving up on either was one of my parents who allowed me the space to find myself and never made me feel guilty or ashamed of the organic thoughts I was having. It’s still a problem to this day now though. Imagine for instance trying to marry a non-Lebanese woman and the problem that would be seen as by the extended family.
I often used to wonder what kind of person I could have been, had I stayed in the old country and not had to deal with this self-diagnosed schizo-like thought process growing up somewhere alien brings. But happy to be me with all the good and bad. I think wasting so much time on matters trivial to most in a desperate attempt [to understand] the world around me has been fulfilling.
Anyways, I hope this is taken as it was meant. Have a great time in Lebanon. —Mahmoud
First, thanks to Mahmoud for his thoughtful reply which I greatly appreciate.
I’ve argued previously that the immigrant going through deculturization and assimilation is similar to the adoptee to a certain degree, though we see here what the “backbone” of the “home country” and family can provide. Some questions arise from this that I think make for good points of discussion:
Just how similar are these situations? Does this make for any kind of bridge between us and our [often] immigrant adoptive parents? Is it possible to attempt to provide such “backbone” to adopted children, as opposed to the “spine-ectomy” of cultural camps and the like?