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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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 Parents 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.

 

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/

 

 

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!

 

Birthday Blues

This year for my 32nd birthday, I wanted to be in a place that was unfamiliar. The joy of traveling to somewhere new was pulling at me for some time, but due to my work and school schedule I could not get away. I waited patiently and developed a plan.

I decided to pack up my whole studio apartment and stuff it all into a storage unit so I could become a nomad and to celebrate and visit family and friends all summer long. I am not sure if it was the best and most responsible choice, but I needed to take a risk and live.

My best friend, Marissa also has a birthday in June and so we decided to head to San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Republica Dominicana to celebrate for two weeks.

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On June 11th, we set out to explore Old San Juan. We walked, talked and drank the whole afternoon. As we walked around with no agenda in mind, I noticed a large white church in the middle of the bustling city streets. We walked up the stairs and I sat in the back on a brown bench. I proceeded to give thanks for the opportunity to travel as well as many others gifts.

As I do every year, I say a little prayer for my birth mother. I send out so much love to her that in the back of my mind, I imagine her feeling the same energy and love pulsing through her core at the same time. I never missed her so much until that day. She stayed on my mind and in my heart the whole day. Even though I will probably never see her again, I just hope that she feels me and my love for her.

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Throughout the day, many feelings of loss rolled through me. Being that I was in a dominate Spanish speaking country, I couldn’t help but think about language. It wasn’t until that moment, that I really understood the loss of language through adoption. That feeling took me back to the time that I got to meet my birth mother, but was unable to converse with her privately because she did not speak English and nor did I speak Konkani. To just have a few minutes alone her was all I have ever wanted.

Those feelings of language drifted into feelings about reunion. Although, I was able to meet a woman whom I believe is my mother, I will never be reunited and actually have a relationship with her like so many of my fellow adoptees in reunion. Although, I am happy for my friends, I am also very jealous since international adoption creates a larger barrier for me to know my birth family.

Once these thoughts subsided, I stepped outside and sat on the steps to watch everybody explore. I quickly realized that the architecture in Old San Juan was very similar to Panjim, Goa. Not only the color of the buildings, but the palm trees, tropical feeling, moist humid air, the city’s ordor, the small roads, and the view of the ocean took me back to my trip to my first home. It was a special feeling to be in a place that is so similar to where I came from. It almost felt like I was suppose to be there on my birthday; to have a piece of Goa with me for the day.

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After a few days in Puerto Rico, we jumped on a tiny plane and headed towards Republica Dominicana. Our last stop on the island was Punta Cana and as soon as we arrived by bus to our Airbnb apartment, I was reminded that Goa wasn’t too far away.

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It felt good to be reminded of my first home during this birthday adventure.

I missed India and the possible life that I had no choice in leaving behind