A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

good parenting

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 30, 2008

I saw this advertisement in the online edition of the Daily Star, the English-language Lebanese paper, on Wednesday, and it made me terribly sad:


This is a legal notice to Hassan Trabulsy that his child or children are about to be placed in foster care or an orphanage. From reading it, I could tell that he obviously hasn’t been around to take care of him/her/them in some time, since his address is listed as “parts unknown” – but also that someone must have reason to think that he returned to Lebanon. And the court is trying to let him know what is happening with his child/children, and to give him one last chance to come back to the United States and be a good father to him/her/them.

In the US, when parents split up, custody generally goes to the mother. We see mothers as the primary, care-giving parent.

In the Middle East, when parents split up, custody almost always goes to the father. Children are his responsibility, but also his right – and they belong to him. Hence as my friend M told me years ago, when I asked him how his mixed-marriage parents decided which religion he should follow, Religion follows the father. And religious courts automatically award custody to the father.

Its a tragedy whenever either parent chooses to abandon his or her responsibilities towards his or her children. But coming from a culture in which fathers are so centrally involved in raising their children, I found it all the more heart-breaking that Trabulsy should abandon his.

Except that when I googled his name to find out more, I learned that he didn’t – or at least, he only abandoned one of them.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Hassan Trabulsi had three children with his American wife Holly: Tristan, Afif, and Serena. Afif and Serena are fraternal twins, and Serena has Down’s Syndrome.

Holly and Hassan, who went by “Richard” in the United States, divorced in 2004, and Holly received full custody of the their children. In 2005, Hassan asked Holly to allow the two boys to come to Lebanon to spend the summer with him. At the end of the summer, he told her that he was not sending them back.

I suspect that this loss-of-custody notice is for Serena, in whom Hassan/Richard seems to have taken no interest. And knowing that he abandoned one child while abducting the others is even more heart-breaking. This is not an example of good parenting. Hassan Trabulsy should be ashamed of himself, and so should the rest of his family.


6 Responses to “good parenting”

  1. Sietske said

    Ooh, that guy is so busted! Good on you! I should place his face right on the front of my blog. Boys are good enough, but she can keep the daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Shame on him, indeed.

  2. qussa said

    I just finished reading ‘The Memorykeeper’s Daughter’ by Kim Edwards, a very gripping read about a father who gives the female part of his twins, born with down syndrome, away at birth, telling his wife she was born dead.

    However, that’s fiction, and this is very real and very, very sad and disgusting…

  3. I have seen many such cases (of child neglect)in Lebanon. All you have to do is pay a visit to the “village S.O.S” to realize that most of the children there are not orphans but neglected by their parents.
    I am divorced and have custody of my son (he sees his mother regularly), I have built my life around him and his schedule and wouldn’t change for the world.

  4. Sietske, I totally agree – and think of the message that all three of his children are growing up with. The ad was intriguing – the story was heartbreaking.

    Qussa, I read about that book and just couldn’t bring myself to read it – I knew I would be too angry at the father to give him a fair shake.

    Marillion, parents who neglect their children – whether they keep them or abandon them – are heartbreaking. Your situation sounds similar to my friend H – and his son (like yours) is lucky to grow up in such loving care. I imagine that you have had to make many sacrifices in order to be a good father to him – and I admire you!

  5. Holly said

    Thank you, adiamondinsunlight. This wasn’t an “ad” so much as it was truly a legal notice that Hassan’s parental rights have been terminated. The rights you speak about are primarily those of the children, to have access to both of their parents… I don’t care what anyone says – a woman can’t have children without (some) part of the man and the man (even more obviously) cannot even carry and bear children… so who, really, has more rights than the other? That’s certainly not for any court to decide – barring an abusive parent – BOTH parents have the right to partake in the raising of their children, whether they are together in matrimony or not. Hassan stole that right from my boys… and for that, I believe, justice will find him in the end.

    As you have correctly assumed, Hassan Trabulsy was not interested in his handicapped daughter… and it is my fear that now her (Serena) brothers are not, either. It is a sad, sad story, though not unusual in the Middle East.

    Shame on him… yes, my friend… shame on him (and his family) for much more than you will ever know, or that I care to make public (at this time). I simply want you to know that over the years, from the kindness of strangers such as yourselves, I have received an incredible amount of information, sympathy and understanding. God bless us all…


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