To travel, or not to travel…

…That has been my question.

I just finished graduated school and I walked across the stage a few weeks ago. I finally feel free and able to make any choice now.

My schedule has opened up and traveling back home to India has been my plan ever since I started school. I have been wanting to go back to India to live, not work on a film, but to just live and become part of Goa. With those desires at bay, I am currently figuring out how to balance my personal desires with professional opportunities and set new goals for this year. As I have been exploring my next trip back, I have asked my parents if they ever thought about going to Goa, India.

Before I get into their response, some background information. I was adopted 30+ years ago and the agency did not require that the prospective parents travel to India and probably didn’t even recommend it. My parents had the luxury to just find a way to LAX to pick me up.

There was a few times when my mother and I talked about traveling to India with my sister while growing up, but it stayed at that. Just talk. The financial burden and raising children seem to have put India on the back burner. I quietly accepted it and buried it.

Years later as an adult, I went on my own (with friends) and I am so glad that I finally did at the age of 26. From that moment, my mother thought that I wanted to go without her.

Fast forward to the last few weeks and an opportunity to travel to India with her sister and her adopted daughter came up. Immediately I felt uneasy, uncomfortable, angry, sad, offended, and hurt. Didn’t really know why these feelings came up so I just sat with them and observed never really expressing much interest in going with them.

Although I am in an uncomfortable and hurt place, I am trying to stay fluid and move through processing these feelings that have made their way to the surface. I talked to my PACER support group members and they mentioned some possible feelings that adoptive parents sometimes feel when they hear that their child wants to return to their home country or when they are suggested to visit their child’s home country. I took it all in and changed how I was going to approach my mother about this topic.

After the meeting, I went home and began to water her plants. She was in the backyard and I casually asked her what the update was about our possible trip to India. She replied that her sister was not going to go. I asked if she was planning on going anyways, and she replied no. I asked why and she basically said that she couldn’t afford it (she was offered the trip for her retirement present from her sister). As suggested by my peers, I asked if any of her reasons were due to fear of loosing me or realizing that there is a whole country and heritage that she couldn’t offer me. She denied ever having those feelings, but went back to the money and taking all the time off of work.

I told her that those reasons are no longer good enough for me. I expressed why I was hurt and offended because here she adopted a child from India 30+ years ago and never really made a true effort on talking, planning, researching, or saving for a trip to India. There was no talk about saving $10/month and go when you are 16, or 18, 21, or when I retire. So the whole money excuse is no longer good for me.

As far as not being able to take a month off of work is also a bit weak because even 2-3 weeks during the 30+ years was still not possible? That’s when the offensive reaction comes into play because how can a family adopt a child from another country and never have any interest in that country whatsoever? Hell, I just found out that my mother has never stepped into an Indian market. How is it possible to have an Indian child and not know anything about India or make a legitimate effort to travel there? The bottom line here is that the obstacles that laid before her could of have easily been solved over time, over 30+ years.

After I shared these feelings with my mother, she understood. She expressed herself by confirming that she has wanted to go, but again there has not been much of an effort until her sister wanted to go and even that was shortly lived. She did express that she imagined us going together but since I went with my friends that she suddenly couldn’t go. I understood that she felt that way. There is a part of me that doesn’t necessarily want to go with her, but I still want her to go. I want her to go because I am her daughter, but I don’t want my presence to be the only reason she goes.

As far as my father goes, his response was similar. I want to go, but…

Even though I have expressed my feelings about how my parents remain separate from India, I know that their efforts to travel to India are probably not going to change anytime soon. And if they do, I will be happily surprised and give them lots of travel tips!

 

Adoptees Connect

Please Don’t Tell Me I Was Lucky to Be Adopted 

Shareen Pine took the words right out my mouth. Her article that I included above is an article that spoke to me on so many different levels…

“Adoption loss is truly multi-generational”- Shareen starts off with a conversation that her daughter had with her friend about how she also feels like an adoptee because she lost her birth grandmother. I have always thought about my future children and how I wanted to create as much truth about their past as I could prior to me having them. I mean, the thought of my children was a major influence as to why I wanted to begin and complete my search for my birth mother and family. I wanted to be able to give to my children what my adoptive parents were not able to give or didn’t know how to give. I wanted to provide names, pictures, answers, a story for them to pass on to their children.

What I didn’t realize, was that is goes much farther than what I want and how I feel. Shareen acknowledged how her daughter felt and that is something that I never considered before. There is not much I can do now since I do not have any children yet, but I realized that no matter how many pictures or stories I tell them about my search and what I was able to find out, they are still going to experience the same loss as me… no relationships and no contact with birth family prior me. I think that Shareen’s daughter is very wise to see herself as an adoptee in her own special way because besides me and my children’s father, they will have no connections or ties; they too may feel a loss as I do.

“Adoptees are often so busy trying to prove that we’re fine…” -This is how I would self soothed myself when I felt broken and lost not only as a child, but also as a young adult. My response to family’s concerns up until recently has always been, I’m fine or Ill be okay. I didn’t have the strength or the comfort to really express myself until I started counseling in college. A big part of not expressing myself was that I didn’t have the language to do it. I didn’t know how to talk about my feelings. I didn’t know how to not feel guilty. I didn’t know how not to worry about what people thought or how I would make them feel if I yell out, I hate being adopted. I didn’t know that it was okay and that it was absolutely normal to have these feelings because I was constantly being reminded to feel lucky and grateful. I would speak the words of feeling lucky and grateful to others without them having any meaning behind them. I could feel myself forcing these words out because that is what people wanted to hear and expected me to feel. I allowed others’ expectations to override and bury my truth.

“Can you imagine being the only person in the world you know you’re related to?”- Right!?! This is really an odd and confusing feeling, especially being around family and friends who are all biologically connected and related to one another except to me. I didn’t really get this feeling until my little brother was born. All I could hear was how much he looked like my father. Looking back on that now, it was really a weird experience and odd to be around those conversations. I felt left out. I would always wonder if my parents attention would spark at that moment and think about how I may feel. I was hopeful that they would turn to me and ask me how I felt or even acknowledged that that is a conversation I wouldn’t be a part of.  We all remained quiet.

“…Or why they told me that my adoptive parents saved me.”- I have heard it all. My adoptive parents saved me, my birth mother loved me so much that she had to surrender her rights to raise me, your life is so much better now, you probably would have been a prostitute or better yet, dead in the gutter because that’s what Indians do to the female babies. Talk about a lot of shit to hear and try to make sense of as a young child. For some reason, it did always amaze me how these possible truths came from people who have never been to India, never lived in India, and don’t  know shit about my birth mother and her truth at the time of my birth. It took me all the way up until just a few years ago to accept that these people wanted to feel like saviors and that they wanted to feed their ego. Their words were so inaccurate after I found out what my truth was that it now makes me laugh at how stupid they all look now.

Even till this day, I think about what my life could have been like if I were to stay with my biological family in Goa. Never once do I think or feel that it would be worse or better than my life now.

To close this post, I would like to say thank you to Shareen Pine and her daughter for speaking out and sharing their truth. Validation is so important in adoption and I cannot begin to express how much I have learned from their words.

The Colorblind Game Failed

Whenever you are sad, who do you talk to? When you are depressed, who do you confide in? When you are confused, who do you speak out loud to? When you are lost, who do you go find?

During my moments of feeling sad, depressed, confused, and lost I had no one to run to. Yes, my family was there, but what I had to say was not going to be something that they wanted to hear. Growing up, my family played the colorblind game with me and acted as though I was no different and just one of the family members. They are not to blame, considering the education around transracial adoption was very limited thirty years ago. I blame the adoption agencies that were only out to make money and close files.

My adoption, my loss, my mental health or that of my sister’s was never a topic of conversation. Without the dialogue, I grew up confused and learned to repress my feelings as if they were not important or valid. How can I speak up about my loss and confusion surrounding my adoption if it was never acknowledged? As a child, how could it be left up to me to yell out? As a child, I didn’t want to draw any more attention to how I was different than what was already apparent physically.

As a young adult, I have tried reaching out to my parents. I remember giving them both the book, 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew with  highlighted sections that spoke to me specifically. Neither one of them reached out to continue the conversation. I talked to my dad not long ago about how hard it can be sometimes to be adopted and he replied that he had no idea about it all and was silent. He has yet to bring it up again. When I speak to my mother, she takes a lot of it personal as if I am telling her what a horrible job she did as a parent. I can understand that. A the same time, what I need from my parents is for them to listen and validate me. I need them to bring up the conversation first, I need them to ask me questions, I need them to take care of me. As much as I push away, I need to them to keep coming after me because I keep drifting farther and farther away.

Now that I am an adult in my thirties, I think I must look to others for support because what I need is not going to come from my parents at this point. It has been very tough to accept this.

The feelings that I have about my adoption are not great feelings. At this point in my healing process, I am not really a fan of adoption and the joys that it brings to everybody else’s lives. Even till this day, I still catch myself suppressing feelings of loss and sadness. I didn’t want to continue this unhealthy cycle, so I started this blog to release the tension and break down my barriers. I haven’t told my parents about it, nor do I think I will. I’m hoping this outlet will lead to acceptance and the belief that my life is suppose to happen the way that it is set up now. I’m not there yet, but maybe.  As much as I want to talk to my parents, I don’t think what I have to say is what they want to hear. I think at this point, it is better that I now play their colorblind game and take my sorrows to therapy and my blog. 🙂