Very Few Understand.

Nigel: Did your parents have any information about your biological family?

Me: No, they were not given any information. Although, I received a birthday card on my first birthday from the women that worked in my orphanage. My parents informed the adoption agency and all communication was discontinued.

Nigel: Thats kidnapping!

Me: Exactly.

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Pact Camp 2018

It felt so good to be back at Pact Camp

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This year has brought new dear friends into my life.

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There is nothing more comforting than finding a community of other adoptees and foster care alumni.

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Its always tough to open myself up to strangers, but I do it because I absolutely love the adoptees and foster care youth that walk this path with me.

Transracial Adoptee Panel: What We Wish Our Printers Had Known/Done

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And after we give our hearts, we must rest

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Until next time…

Birthday Dinner

Every year on my birthday I think more about my first mother. Over the years, I have honored her presence in my heart with either a thought, a prayer, or a birthday wish as I blew out the candles. This year I did something a little different.

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It was just a few years ago that I met a woman via Facebook. She shared her stories of when she was a young Brigham Young University student volunteering at my orphanage in the 1990’s. The one detail that I kept dear to me was the food the women, mothers, and children ate; “dal and rice almost every day.” The budget was tight, but if they had extra money, they added vegetables.

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So this year, I decided to spend the evening of my birthday alone, honoring her by making dal, rice (not pictured here) chapatis, and coconut chutney. I said a prayer and sent a lot of love around the world.

 

Family Medical Hx?

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Everyday, I express gratitude to the heavens above for my health. With all my medical history being unknown, I am truly grateful that I haven’t experienced any serious health threats yet.

I have taken my health very seriously since adulthood forced me to. Up until about a couple of years ago, I kept up with all my visits with my OBGYN at Planned Parenthood.

It all starts with paperwork before the appointment. Sitting in the lobby, checking of boxes swiftly, and then get caught up at the family history section. I take a deep breath, and write in “unknown“, and lastly my signature.

I turn in my paperwork to the front desk and verbally request that they review the medical forms to include an “Unknown”, or “Fostered/Adoptee” option when asked about family medical history. I drop some knowledge, they have an excuse, I roll my eyes, and then I take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

Minutes later, I am undressed with my paper cover-up over my bare chest, laid on my back, breast exposed.

Lump is found

Mammogram is provided

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I am now living in Oakland and monitoring is suggested by my new Kaiser team. My most recent appointment was with the Breast Clinic.

It all starts with paperwork before the appointment. Sitting in the lobby, checking of boxes swiftly, and then get caught up at the family history section. I take a deep breath, and write in “unknown“, and lastly my signature.

I turned in my paperwork t othe front desk and verbally request that they review the medical forms to include an “Unknown”, or “Fostered/Adoptee” option when asked about family medical history. I drop some knowledge, they have an excuse, I roll my eyes, and then I take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

Minutes later, I am undressed with my paper cover up over my bare chest, laid on my back, breast exposed.

The doctor paced and asked me three times if I had information on my medical history within 15 minutes. THREE TIMES, I had to breathe and say no, calmly.

Lump is found again

Mammogram is ordered

Benign.

Everyday, I express gratitude to the heavens above for my health. With all my medical history being “unknown,” I am truly grateful that I haven’t experienced any serious health threats, yet.

 

Pact Fall Fundraising Gala Speech

Pact Has Changed My Life Forever

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In my mid twenties, I embarked on an adventure back to my first home in search for my family in India, in search for what is rightfully mine. With my future children in mind, my dear friends and I documented my travels that ended up eventually becoming a feature length film. Unexpectedly, knowledge of my film began to travel through the adoption community. And that’s how I was introduced to Beth and PACT. Beth was so kind to invite me to the Pact Family Camp to present my film to adoptive parents. She was the first person to call me a transracial adoptee. I had never heard of that label before but it was exactly what I needed to hear. Something so small as two words helped me settle years of confusion about my experiences and my place in my family, with white parents.

With no expectations about what camp was going to be like, I packed my bags and drove up to Lake Tahoe. As I drove up the driveway, I saw a little brown child running across the street towards the pool and their white parents following not too far behind. My heart sank and tears began to flow. That was really the first time I saw myself from the outside. 

Opening ceremony welcomed all families into the conference room. I will never forget when Beth asked all adoptees, foster care youth and alumni to raise their hand. I saw at least a hundred hands in the air! This rush of validation, acceptance, and unconditional love went through my body. Coming from a family that didn’t speak about my adoption, India, my first family, adoption language, or the possibility of searching and reuniting, I was absolutely overwhelmed to see so many other families built like mine, all in the same room. I immediately knew that I was where I was suppose to be.

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Since my first Pact Family Camp in 2014, I have met, listened to and became close friends with other TRA’s, Foster Care Alumni, natural mothers, and adoptive parents. In fact, they are the reason I moved to Oakland earlier this year. Together they all have honored my voice, my experience, and gave me credit for being an expert in adoption. Through the authors, bloggers, filmmakers, theatrical performers, and poets that PACT has exposed me to, my perspective have expanded around race, gender, sex, identity, parenting, and language. The most precious gift that I have received from PACT is my support group for TRA’s of Color. I’ve been allowed to cry, mourn, express anger, laugh, and roll my eyes without having to defend myself. I am not alone in this and my self esteem and self love have heightened to a level I have never experienced. I consider everyone that I have met through PACT an extension of my family. A family that understands me as a whole person, without having to say one word.

So tonight, I am here to celebrate and highlight the work of the dedicated, strong, insightful, gracious and compassionate staff members, including all the counselors, volunteers, panelist, and board members of PACT. Transracial Adoption is complex with so many unexpected challenges. But with the all trainings, webinars, annual family camps, consultations, education, support groups, placement services and more, PACT truly is a leader in providing the best opportunities to learn how to move through the challenges with the adoptee’s best interests at the core.

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Myself, along with so many other adoptees and foster care alumni have been given the open space to share our experiences, joys and challenges. We hope to create a better experience for those that walk this path beside us and behind us, and sometimes before us. I want to personally thank you all for coming tonight and supporting the much needed services for those that are the most vulnerable. I am proof that PACT can change lives and support a healthy and open narrative around adoption. Thank you Beth and my dear PACT family for making me a better person. I love you all dearly.

 

Nothing Has Changed

A ride through my mother’s village.

The purpose of my last visit to Goa was simply to live everyday in the present moment. I planned nothing except my flights and AirBnB rooms. The rest I left up to my natural instinct… I chose to travel alone, for the opportunity to practice my natural instinct, my internal navigation system.

I tasted new beers and food, shared my dinner table with strangers, made new friends, talked politics, meditated, made love, took risks, explored, all while getting acquainted with new feelings. I was genuinely happy being home in those moments.

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 It was during the latter part of my time in northern Goa that made me quickly think of my mother’s village. Again, not having any desire to search or look for clues; the brief images of driving through her village came and went.

I arrived to Agonda Beach and settled into my little bamboo framed beach hut. The days passed with sights of the Arabian Sea, sounds of traveling musicians, and the taste of fresh sweet coconut water.

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The bare beach was a place to feel alone, yet still have just the right amount of people to watch from afar. Thats when I notice him, perched up on a rock in the middle of the seashore. I was to later find out thats when he noticed me.

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Time passed and he approached me with a gift, sweet coconut water. New experiences and new feelings with him for the next few days.

One afternoon, we changed our plans and he offered a trip to a neighboring beach town up north to pick up his clothes from the cleaners. With no hesitation, I accepted and jumped on his bike. The thought of my mother’s village came back to me. I noticed that we would be passing through, so I asked if we could drive through on our way back to Agonda. Without hesitation, he replied yes.

With the sun setting and his phone battery dying, we found our way back to the place I left a piece of my heart, just a few years ago.

He drove slowly, taking sharp turns with ease so I could observe the streets she used to walk, the people she probably knew, and the shop that she probably visited. We followed the flags that lined the roads from a festival that had just passed.

I was still.

He reached his hand back around and touched me.

How are you feeling?

I am angry.

I didn’t resist and I began to cry. He pulled over and wrapped his arms around me. The anger grows, and the tears flow.

At that moment, I realized my anger was towards the village, the people, the customs, the traditions, the detachment to the human experience of motherhood. It is their fault that my mother had to choose to…

 We hear a voice from down the road.

“You can’t do that here. You need to leave. There are children out here.”

Our explanation of our relations and my tears did not convince him that I was simply crying while being gently hugged by a man.

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If we were not welcomed to hug on the public street corner, I am sure single, pregnant women are still not welcomed back home.

Nothing has changed.