As an adoptee who has returned to his birthplace of Lebanon, I have been actively watching the rise of this trope [Islamophobia and adoption] in the media, on online forums, as well as in private online exchanges for the past seven years. In 2009, for example, the AP reported on a couple trying to adopt from Egypt. Compared to the crime of this couple and the corruption of government officials there, it is nonetheless Islam that bears the burden of opprobrium in the article: Adoption in Egypt is defined as being “snarled in religious tradition”. This became a contentious discussion on the web site Canada Adopts, where the given of the argument was basically how to get around these Islamic invocations, as if they somehow were to blame for the legal transgressions of the would-be adopters, painted as virtuous Samaritans.Be sure to read the whole thing; I was particularly struck by the parallels the author draws between interpretations of the Bible by the Christian Adoption Movement as justifying adoption ("God adopted us!") and interpretations of Islam that seek to do the same thing ("Muhammad was adopted!"). His exigesis of the Qur'an as (no) textual support for adoption reminds me of David Smolin's dismantling of the Biblical/theological basis for the Christian Adoption Movement. Both of which makes me think of what Inigo Montoya of the Princess Bride might say about these uses of the word adoption: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
For another example, we need go to Pamela Geller’s web site Atlas Shrugged. Here the tables are turned on would-be adoptive parents of Moroccan children who would be required to maintain the child’s Muslim faith. Ms. Geller describes this as some evil Islamic fifth column in the making, despite the fact that most every orphanage on the planet is Christian-based and missionary in outlook and likewise requires that the parents be of a particular faith in order to adopt.
Similarly, in her article for The Daily Beast, Asra Nomani writes an article which implies that the orphaned children of Pakistan are being recruited by Al-Qaeda as future suicide bombers. Her answer to this problem? To undo the “antiquated, shortsighted, and regressive stricture that makes adoption illegal [within Islam].” This focus on Islam as a problem for adoptive parents who supposedly want to help the orphans of the world is quite loaded, and needs to be deconstructed on two levels, first in terms of the historical and economic/political function of adoption, and second in terms of linguistic and theologic use/misuse of the term.
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