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ISMAIL-ALLOUCHE, Zeina

 

Throughout my professional journey, I have been extensively engaged in advocating for children’s rights and more specifically the rights of children without parental care. I started my career working with the United Nations Children Funds in Lebanon and then as an international staff serving in Yemen. Afterwards, I headed an organization based in Lebanon that runs residential care for children. I also contributed to regional and international initiatives focusing on preventing separation. Moreover, I was involved in drafting the International Guidelines on Children without Parental Care, approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. During more than twenty years of practice, I was basing myself on the Convention on the Rights of the Child that positions adoption as the best solution for children without parental care. Nevertheless, the realities of the practice were always inviting me to revisit my convictions about adoption. This was reinforced by the witnessing of the come-back of many youths, who were transnationally/transracially adopted as children during the civil war in Lebanon. Actually, many of those adopted abroad returned in search of their roots. They represented the first generation of adoptees to have acted on the fundamental need to know the truth and understand how they were separated from their biological families. Inspired by their strong expressions for the need to know the truth and to re-connect with their lost identities, I established, in 2015, Badael-Alternatives, a Non-Governmental Organization based in Lebanon. The organization advocates for the rights to origins for victims of transracial/transnational adoption. Badael-Alternatives documented stories of victims of forced separation for adoption purposes. Unfortunately, the findings revealed many violations of children’s rights and illegal processes including the falsifications of personal records. Intrigued by the learnings about “illegal adoption”, I engaged in a public discourse to question adoption as a child trafficking cartel. I have also directed two theatrical performances featuring witnesses who experienced forced separation to highlight the quest for origins. I am currently following my Individualized PHD studies to investigate the adoption’s practices through the perceptions of persons who were adopted in the light of the legacy of Indigenous's peoples forced separation experience.

The Effects, in Adulthood, of Forced Separation from One’s Biological Family in the Light of the Experience of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada

The project entitled “The Effects, in Adulthood, of Forced Separation from One’s Biological Family in the Light of the Experience of the Indigenous Peoples in Canada”, proposes a research-creation to investigate the forced separation practices, through the perceptions of youths who were adopted as children. Based on the legacy of the forced separation experienced by the Indigenous peoples in Canada, the research will aim to question the international adoption practices through the lens of the youths who experienced forced separation. Through Oral History, the research will unfold the personal stories, explore implications on identity formation, and attempt to understand the quest for the origins. A performance creation, then, will be offering a space for their voices to be heard.


 

Concordia University