My Film Review
Left to right
Laura Callen, Creator of Adoption Museum Project. Me. Sami Khan, Writer/Director. Zoë Klein, Adoption Museum Project staff, friend, and support.
My Film Review
Left to right
Laura Callen, Creator of Adoption Museum Project. Me. Sami Khan, Writer/Director. Zoë Klein, Adoption Museum Project staff, friend, and support.
Since my latest blog was shared on Dear Adoption, some confusion and rumors have been present among my family and friends.
I received emails and phone calls asking if I was moving to India forever. I was a bit surprised because not once did I mention the word moving or forever. After talking to my sister about it and reading my words again, I realized that there may have been a couple things that set the tone and created an image of me moving back to India forever. Allow me to clarify.
Mentioning that I have a one-way ticket to India I’m sure didn’t make sense to a lot of people. When I was originally planning my trip through Southeast Asia, I knew that I wanted to start in India, finish in another country and then head back to the US. The first ticket I purchased was from San Francisco to Mumbai. My heart sank and I wrote my last blog. At that point, I didn’t know where else I wanted to go and when I was coming back.
Another contributing factor is the meaning of the word home. For most people living in the same country that they were born in may see themselves as having one home. For me, I was born in India and grew up in the US, so I call both India and the US my home. For me to state, “I am going back home,” simply means that I am going back to my first home, whereas for someone that claims they only have one home may see my use of the word home as meaning forever.
This is a dilemma that some adoptees battle with. Where is home? Which one is home? Which one is my family? Do I have to choose one? Why cant I have/claim both families? Do I have two birth certificates? Do I have two birthdays? Do I have two names? Can I have two homes?
Now that I am out on my own, it is my responsibility to build a bridge between my two selves and between my two homes.
My dear friend, Reshma wrote the following letter to me after I expressed some anxiety about my trip back to India…
So much to take on but I know you will RISE. YOU WILL RISE! And if your instincts don’t kick in as quickly as you would like or in the way you hope, you’ll be resourceful. And then they WILL kick in. If anybody has got this YOU have got this. You already made the decision and that’s a pretty tough, bad ass part of this whole thing. My girl, you will RISE. It’s where you’re supposed to be. In this time. In this body. In this emotional, physical, and spiritual place. This is the time for YOU in INDIA!
My contribution to Dear Adoption,
I am returning back home to Goa, India.
Dear Adoption, I’m Going Back Home
My passport was renewed. Renunciation of Indian citizenship was approved. Travel visa was granted.
I was sitting in my loft on a Saturday afternoon staring at the computer screen as each travel site loaded. I had been building the courage to actually purchase plane tickets for a few days by that time. My anxiety had kicked in and my emotions were rolling deep. I needed to surrender to the internal pull and return home again.
I found a one way flight to Mumbai. I read and re-read all the details, filled in my personal information and clicked “Purchase.” There it was, my confirmation number. It was official, I was going back home to India.
As I was sitting there, turning my desires into reality, I began to laugh and eventually my giggles turned to tears. I took a deep breath and sat with the…
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I am honored to be collaborating with The Adoption Museum Project on November 12th when they co-present the beautiful film, Khoya at the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival. I will help create a larger conversation about adoption following the screening with writer/director, Sami Khan and the audience.
ABOUT THE FILM
Khoya (Lost) is the story of an Indian, transracial adoptee who grows up in Canada and returns to search for his birth family in India. The story is told from the adopted person’s perspective, and it points to some of the complexities and challenges of international adoption. This is a fictional story inspired by the filmmaker’s personal experience as the son of a first/birth parent. It’s a highly evocative film featuring stunning cinematography.
“A few years ago I learned that I had a long-lost brother, living somewhere in the world. He was put up for adoption ten years before I was born. When I began the process of looking for my brother, I was struggling to reconcile the conflicting emotions I was experiencing. Khoya came out of that process. It was a way for me to sort out those complex feelings of loss and longing and to make sense of them.” – Sami Khan, Writer/Director
Buy DISCOUNTED tickets and join us:
I am going through a separation; the final separation.
It was about two weeks ago that I called my ex-boyfriend who just moved back home to Indiana. We had talked about me visiting him and possibly meeting in Chicago. I made some arrangements and gave him a call. He gave me the worst news. He was in a new relationship. I dug deep and expressed some genuine feelings of happiness for him, but my feelings on the surface were quite different.
First girlfriends have always been very difficult for me. I tend to analyze myself and how I was in the relationship. Was this another relationship where I always left first in fear that he would leave me again? Yes. Did we trust each other? No; trust was broken very early on in our relationship and trust continued to be broken throughout the four years. Did I love him? Yes. Was I selfish? Yes. I have noticed that being in grad school had a big part in my choices; my choices to choose me instead of us. Did my adoption journey have something to do with my push back? Yes. I don’t think I understood how to love anybody else because I lacked love for myself.
I will admit, these last few years as I tried to make sense of my loss and really accept that I have no access to my family lineage hasn’t created the best opportunity to love myself. I looked to my college and career success as a way to love myself, which is why I chose to be selfish while I was in school. But there’s so much more than degrees and finding a job.
He was right in many ways when we reflected on our four year on and off again relationship during our last phone call and text messages. I didn’t want to be with him in a real way. I have thought about his words and what that means to me. I agree, but didn’t stop there. I asked myself why, why did I not commit to him the way that he deserved? The way that we both deserved.
I cannot change what happened, but I do know how I want to change today. My feelings about a relationship and commitment has shifted and I am now ready to admit out loud what it is that I want, what I am ready for, what I deserve and hope for.
I want a real relationship too. I want to build on trust, transparency, respect, and love. I want to commit. I want to stay and not run when arguments arise. I want to give and receive love. I want to feel like I deserve love. I want to make sacrifices. I want to compromise. I want to take risks. I want to feel, and not think so much. I want to admit that I need help. I want to balance my independence and a partnership. I want to build a home and a family together. I want to open myself up and allow love in.
He was caring, loving and very patient. He is greatly missed. Now, I just need to snap out of it and stop hoping that he will text me.
As mentioned in my blog posted on October 4, 2016, I was ready to apply for my travel visa for India. I had waited to complete my Renunciation of Indian Citizenship and there were a couple of bumps along the way, but quite minor. Once I received my paperwork of completion, I was ready for Part II.
Now that the scary part was over, I was ready to review my travel visa application again. I went down the checklist that CKGS provided and made sure that I had all the required copies and my documents were in order.
I made an appointment and headed back to San Francisco.
After unexpected traffic, searching for parking for what seemed like hours, walking in the wrong direction for about 15 minutes, I managed to arrive on time. I checked in at the front desk and waited for my number to be called.
After removing layers of winter clothes and 20 minutes of fanning myself in attempt to cool down from the unexpected high temperatures, I was called up to the counter. The CKGS staff member looked over all my paperwork, checked my IDs and then casually asked for my marriage license.
I remained calm and explained how my name changed due to my adoption and that she could find my father’s name on my Indian passport. Luckily I had it with me again. She copied it and added it to the stack of papers to be submitted. As I began to pack up my belongings she stopped me again.
Oh, now what!
She stated that my application number does not match up with my appointment number. Yes, I created two applications because I was confused and tried to get by without submitting my Renunciation certificate. I think she could tell that I was a bit stressed, so the lovely woman printed out my other application and assured me that everything is now completed.
I added each layer of clothing back onto my body, swung my backpack over my shoulders, strapped the safety belt across my chest, took a deep breath and walked out to attend Adoptee Night at the San Francisco Giants baseball game.
Three days later, I received my passport back and there it was, my travel visa for India. That included a small picture of me sporting my untamed eyebrows. I was officially allowed to enter India, as many times as I wanted, for the next 10 years. I was ready to go back home.
We are back in Sacramento, CA!
The Multicultural Center at California State University, Sacramento has invited me to share YOU FOLLOW: A search for one’s past on October 27, 2016 at 12 noon.
I will be available to answer and discuss any questions from the audience after the film.
Prior to graduating, I made a promise to myself to travel back to Goa, India. After many trips abroad, I have decided that the most meaningful and most useful education comes from leaving the comforts of our everyday surroundings and exploring new languages, foods, conversations, social norms, friendships and even transportiation. I have set aside some of my student loans to make this trip possible. I mean, I am putting it towards my education, right?! More than that, I want to make Goa a place where I am comfortable traveling to, a place where I can call home not only for myself, but for my future children.
First step, acquire a travel passport visa. Yes, everyone who plans to enter India needs a visa. There are many different types of visas so depending on the purpose of your visit and the duration of your stay, choose wisely. Also, make sure that your current US passport is valid for at least six months. Since I am traveling for leisure, I am applying for a “Travel Visa.”
I started to search the Internet for the Embassy and how to obtain a travel visa. The links that I came across all directed me to the Cox and Kings Global Services (CKGS). “CKGS is the only authorized Services Provider for the embassy of India and its Consulates across the USA for Visa, OCI Renunciation of Indian Citizenship services as follows with effect from May 21, 2014.”
As much as I tried to find a simple way around it, there was none to find and I had to begin the process. The site is a bit tricky to navigate and move around so please take notes of your “Temporary ID/ Web Reference Number” You are allowed to log in and out at different times which is important to keep your Web Reference Number handy in order to log in and continue where you left off. There are lots of documents to print so having access to a printer is necessary.
I begin to answer the questions with ease until I get to where I am asked if I hold an Indian passport. Well, yes I do. The next question asked if I still had my Indian Passport and well, yes I do. So now I am required to submit my Renunciation of Indian Citizenship form of proof. What!?! I began to stress out. Another application, another few weeks, another fee, and another hoop to jump through. I love surprises, but not this kind of surprise.
Confused like me, well here is the breakdown from their website. Renunciation is defined as “Surrender and Renunciation of Indian Citizenship applies only to applications of Indian Origin. Under The Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, Persons of Indian Origin is NOT allowed DUAL Citizenship. If a person has ever held an Indian Passport and has obtained the passport of another country, they will be required to surrender their Indian Passport immediately after gaining another Country’s nationality.”
Why I was able to obtain two other travel visas without going through this process, I am not sure so don’t ask. 🙂
Luckily, CKGS directed me to the appropriate link to begin the Renunciation process. There is a way to submit for your Renunciation of Indian Citizenship and a travel visa at the same time, but I didn’t want to take the chance. I decided to submit one at a time.
I began the Renunciation application online and to my surprise they ask for my Permanent Indian address. For real? Well, in my case my last address was my orphanage that no longer exist today. I copied the address that is in my Indian passport. The address is not complete so I had to google the zip code (known as the pin code) and typed in what I found and prayed that it would work.
I completed the application, printed out the documents, signed where I needed to, made copies of my passport and naturalization certificat scheduled my appointment (drop off app. in person), and reviewed the checklist over and over.
I had everything. I was ready. I traveled to San Francisco and showed up on time to my appointment. Everything went smoothly, until the CKGS employee asked me for my marriage license. Huh? I’m not married. But, my name changed from what is printed on my Indian passport to what is printed on my current proof of ID. When I was adopted, I never went through a formal name change process. My parents just added my father’s last name to my name given at birth.
A rush of anxiety traveled through my body quickly. I didn’t know what other way to explain it to the CKGS employee. Then I remembered! My adoptive father’s full name is on my Indian passport so that is how I got his last name on my current proof of ID. The CKGS employee highlighted it and again, I prayed that I didn’t get any emails stating that I was denied. He wasn’t sure it was going to be enough but it was the best we could do.
He accepted all my paperwork on his end, but it still needed to get approved. Then it was time to start the waiting game. I left the appointment and jumped on a bus back to Sacramento.
I checked my email on a regular basis and there were no red flags. About two weeks later I received an email stating that my certificate and Indian passport was in transit back to me! Thank you, Universe! Let me tell you, I was not excited about sending off my Indian passport in the mail. As an adoptee I value that passport soooooo much. It’s a very special piece of my story and the beginning of my life in the US.
I opened my envelops and there it was, a red printed “PASSPORT CANCELLED AS ACQUIRED U.S NATIONALITY” stamp. As of September 1, 2016, I was legally no longer an Indian Citizen. Not that I really was one, but now it’s official I guess.
I sat with my passport for a few minutes. In all honesty, it didn’t really bother me too much that my Indian passport was cancelled. It does suck that adoptees cannot hold dual citizenship. The closest I can get is to apply for an Overseas Citizen of India. Nonetheless, I am glad that the process was approved without an issues and now I can move on to get my India Travel Visa. Stay tuned.
For ten years, I have been reading about other adoption journeys, the common struggles and joys we experience, and of course stories of reunion. I find myself reading non stop about how mothers find their children, adults finding their parents, families falling apart after reunion, and how closed files keep identities sealed.
Before throwing myself in books, I just didn’t think that it was possible for me let alone anybody else to find any details about their first family, their first life.
Being that I am an adoptee from India and having my adoption take place thirty three years ago, the idea and hope of reunion was probably never considered by the facilitators. The lack of possibility became my narrative. My narrative that was passed down to me were based on assumptions, books, fear, and uncertainty.
It was the stories of domestic reunions that began to change my narrative about my own reunion from impossible to maybe, just maybe.
Years went by and the opportunity to search came and I began to act. I followed my instincts and shared my friends belief that it was going to happen. Www.youfollowthefilm.com
Since the release of the film, I have become friends with many other international and domestic adoptees. We all have shared our stories through either film, books, solo performances, poems, and blogs. Their vulnerability to open the doors to their most private and personal history is admirable.
Reunions are the goal. Pictures are valuable. Files are requested. Acknowledgment is crucial. Reattaching the psychological, physiological, and spiritual bond that we share with our mother is a biological necessity.
Understanding these desires, I can’t help but want the fantasies and dreams of reunion to come true for my dear friends. For some, they have. It usually never goes the way that they anticipate, but nonetheless, they know, and knowing is all I want.
All I want to know is who she is. All I want is a picture. All I want is my file. All I want is a conversation. All I want is the TRUTH.
The once possible is slowly becoming the impossible again and it’s not fair.
I continue to hear about my dear friends and their stories of reunion or gathering any pieces from their first family.
It’s all so bittersweet.
I will admit that jealousy is my immediate response. I can be looked at and judged in many ways, but I’m going to be quite honest here. I am not only happy for reunions that my dear fellow adoptees experience, but I am also very jealous. I am jealous of the pictures, the acknowledgement, the open files, and the relationships. I am even jealous of the pain, the tears, heartaches that sometimes come with reunion.
I understand that knowing all or some may not be the best for everyone that has access to their history, but I want it all.
I want to find my family on Facebook, or by putting a letter in a file, or joining a website, or hiring an investigator. I want it to be easy where cultural barriers don’t exist, where female babies are honored, where we share the same language, where I don’t need to hide and lie in order to meet my family and where my mother has no fear or shame in saying yes, I am your mother.
I want it to be simple. It should be simple. It needs to be simple for all of us.