Gender issues for rematriating adoptees.

In speaking of “rematriation” as opposed to “repatriation”, we take a different and gendered view of our adoptions and our return [link]. I’d like to expand on this with a notion that I have been painfully aware of these past years as I’ve worked with returned adoptees in Lebanon, male and female.

As a male returned, I am able to lean on particular cultural privileges that allow me a literal and figurative “space” to work out my return; for one example, there is nothing that prevents me from joining in with other men in the neighborhood in the nightly ritual of “catching up” with local news over tea at the corner open-air shop. I’m not given the full privilege of, say, a ranking bourgeois professional-class male; but there is a cultural “space” for me to work within.

I should say that there is nothing that prevents a female adoptee from doing the same; there is, however, more a social gravity that places her in the home, and by extension, with family, etc. Ironically perhaps, the more she integrates, the more she is able to overcome this gravity; as an Outsider, there are, on the other hand, other projections placed on her that get in the way of such integration. And so her “obstacles” to return are not impossible to overcome; but they are different and managed differently.

For both male and female adoptees returned, such an integration might be seen to come at a “price” that conflicts directly with our acculturation. Personally, this has meant giving up in no small way my concept of “private space” and “privacy”; the move from an individualistic to a communal mindset; etc. These are seen as impositions by many who return, and explain in no small way the “ex-pat” class that we often find ourselves with.

I’ll leave it at this for now, but what I would like to ask adoptees who have returned to their birthplaces for a short visit or an extended stay is how did you navigate this conflict of gender issues between birth and acculturative places? Are there any illustrative anecdotes that you might have that expand on this in any way? How easy/difficult is it for you to “be” in either of these places once having experienced the “return”?

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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