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.
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:
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.
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.
Born, Never Asked.
San Francisco, CA
August 11th-13th, 18th-20th
These last few years I have been manifesting new relationships with transracial adoptees. There is something that is quite strong between my fellow adoptees and myself. This feeling of validation and solidarity.
At Pact Camp this year, I was assigned to share a room with Zoë Klien. I got to know Zoë throughout the week and learned that she is a performer traveling around the world. It was her first time at camp and my third. I was able to see how my first time experiences overlapped and aligned with hers. I wanted to learn more about her truth as a transracial adoptee.
The desire to know more and support a fellow adoptee took me to San Francisco.
“Born, Never Asked. sheds light on the complexity of international adoption through scrobatics, dance, spoken word, and visual imagery. Born in Colombia, raised in NY, choreographer Zoë Klien embarks on this personal journey in order to question the importance of bloodline and how to achieve wholeness in the face of conflicting loyalties between lands, language, families, and cultures.”
With a heart full of gratitude and love, the lights dimmed. I took a deep breath and I teleported into the aircraft where she was being relocated from one country to another. From Colombia to New York, NY . The story of her birth.
Her limbs and toes stretched as if her mother was feeling her foot push through her belly. Her mother prepared for birth. Moments before the plane landed.
I saw her body suspended and stretched far in the air. She and the other performers told the story of detachment, attachment, loss, trust, all that is so common with other adoptees.
A deep tone of red covers the stage allowing the audience to interpret their feelings, without knowing that their shared interpretations are very quite similar.
Her words resonated and caused vibration throughout my body once I heard her soft voice. If I remember correctly, she spoke, “World traveler at 30 days old,” and “who is saving who?”
With very few words verbalized, I understood her story. As shared during the Talk Back, Zoë noticed that there are not too many, if any performers sharing their story with only a few words spoken. That was the space she wanted to create and fill.
The awareness of this space parallels Nancy Verrier book, “Primal Wound.” She confirmed my feelings and experiences around the severed bond and relationship between my mother and I after 40+ weeks in utero.
Once again, these experiences are aligned for me and I recognized the Universe was present with me. Or I with she.
As an artist, Zoë uses multiple media to share her life. Not only does she dance, choreograph, run the show, but she also writes, paints, photographs, and digs deep to her truth. Her soul was celebrated with paintings and photos of her journey back to Colombia.
Zoë is an artist to follow. She is story teller to follow. The one thing that I can truly appreciate is that her show will change as she changes. She will reflect the stages of her relationships, growth, awareness, and mourning. The stages of adoption. I am honored to witness a visual performance that mimics my truth.
Attend, support, and follow the art work and story telling of Zoë Klien