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.

 

Allow Me to Clarify

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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.

Khoya (Lost) at the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival

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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

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/142876771
Website: http://www.khoyathefilm.com

Buy DISCOUNTED tickets and join us:

http://www.adoptionmuseumproject.org/projects/co-presenting-film-khoya-lost/

 

 

Travel Visa: Granted

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.

Not again!

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 wait.

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.

A Taste of Jealousy

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.