Black Lives Matter


Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo, Eric Gardner, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Jamar Clark, John Crawford III, Walter Scott…and the count stretches back and back and forward and forward.

Find a system, politician or organization to pressure for reform. State sanctioned racism and state sanctioned killing are nothing new, but the cameras are. We watch with jaws open and eyes full of tears but our voices and pens stay silent. Watching unarmed black people being killed with your tax dollars should serve as a stark reminder that we are all supporting the systems that perpetuate these patterns.

Find that voice or uplift those around you that have been silenced.

Stories and stats from those fallen in 2015, http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/.

Daughter of the Ganges

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There are others who have gone ahead of me, scouting, getting lost, running into demons and in some cases fighting them off and in others retreating in search of paths easier to travel. We take different perspectives to life. Our stories are like two  rivers dancing, intertwined one moment and heading in opposite directions in others. We share certain experiences and feelings but have come away with different interpretations of the things that have happened.

Much of the way Asha Miro approaches life and has found and created meaning from parts of her journey does not resonate with me. We are very different in our views about why adoption happens, what it means to be an adopted person and the upbringing that we each experienced. Nonetheless, I have learned much from her two part book, Daughter of the Ganges which is an autobiographical account of two separate trips Asha took to India to search for family and culture. The second part of the book is focused on Asha’s second trip back to India called The Two Faces of the Moon.

Asha was adopted when she was 7 years old by a family in Barcelona that already had one young Indian daughter. Asha explains throughout the book the depth and persistence with with her parents document her life as she grows up. They create a record for her of her childhood and all those moments good and bad from the moment she touches down. Asha’s mother gives her the dairy she wrote in everyday as Ash was growing up just before she boards the plane to India for the first time. Throughout Daughter of the Ganges Asha juxtaposes her experience returning to India with her mother’s experiences and feelings of having her newly arrived and in Barcelona. It is a nice literary dynamic but it also makes me realize how badly I want that record, that knowledge of what and who I was as a baby.

I am struck at how different her two experiences are from her first time back compared to her second. Her first feels naive, innocent and very good natured. She, as I would do myself, trusts that others have her best interest at heart and ends up receiving information that is not wholly accurate. Her return journey number two is a different story. She pushes people for information, gets the necessary help and is able to create some amazing connections.

Reading other people’s stories for me is difficult. I want everyone to approach the world the same as me so I can see how it would work out. Asha approaches the world differently. We are looking for different things as we reach back into our past and reach out towards India. Given that tendency I am very glad I came across her story and that she chose to share and write about it.

The books are no longer in print but you can find them online. I’m glad to ship my copy to anyone who is interested in getting their hands on a copy, just drop me a line.

4 years


Its been 4 year since I started writing and within the last two months I have done more to help myself process than in the previous 27 years. I started out writing, reading and trying to expose myself to others’ stories. When I began I just needed to know I wasn’t along asn an adoptee. As I explored the world of adoptee stories I found myself more called to transracial adoptees, particularly Indians, to no surprise. Since May I have been seeing a therapist who has been immensely helpful in getting me to move towards action.

Four years ago I had looked through my file for the first time sitting on the dusty floor of the house I grew up in. Four days ago, on a Friday evening I laid out that file once more and broke it down into different categories that each contain clues to my past. I isolated the information generated by SOC SEAD, the orphanage, by the Indian courts, by Lutheran Family Services, the INS, progress reports generated by my parents, their adoption application files and correspondence with Illien Adoptions International, inc.

My next step is to sift through with a bit more focus on the information provided within each document and begin to create a few narratives that I can begin to explore. I have already found pieces of information just by sorting them out that has given me more direction in where to start. The conversations with Dr. F. have also lead me to the realization that I need to return, whether I am searching or not, to India. My plan/goal is to return between January-March of 2017. I should have enough saved up to be able to go for 2-3 weeks. It will also give me time to try to get a better hold on what I know, apply for an OCI and see if I can learn any amount of Hindi or Tamil.

Four years ago I hoped I would be living in India right now with some semblance of reunion with my birth culture or birth family. Now I hope to at least return to India before my 28th birthday to get a better hold of what I  really am up against. Thank you to the other Indians who have written, filmed and recorded their experiences that I have been able to find. Each story has been filled with warnings, fear, pain, disappointment, hope, rejection, struggle and a sense of importance in acting.

I hope the small things will continue to build, pushing me forward.

 

“Calcutta is my Mother”


I sometimes stumble across stories of other Indian Transracial Adoptees who have gotten some press, usually because they are in some stage of searching. This most recent story is being made into the movie “Calcutta is my Mother” which from the short trailer: https://vimeo.com/168535931 seems less about the act of searching for birth/first family than an exploration of connection to heritage, ancestors and”home.”

I was talking with my therapist, Dr. F, last week and we began discussing the difference between searching for the purpose of reunion with a birth/first family vs. searching for the purpose of connecting with a birth/ancestral culture. I realized that my initial reason for wanting to search for first relatives is largely influenced by guilt and fear. Guilt that there could be a mother or family out there that gave up a child (me) that may want to have contact with that child and I, now, have the ability to try and make that happen. Its the guilt that makes me feel like since I have the ability to search and I haven’t it means I must no care enough about my first relatives.

On the flip side, my desire to search/connect with things Indian is more driven by a mix of shame, curiosity and a desire to feel part of a culture that I can call my own. I had never thought about there being different strongly different motives to wanting to reconnect with various parts of my past (i.e. culture, ancestry, relatives…etc). Its something I am definitely going to have to continue to unpack.

No Progress


No progress. I just haven’t done anything in a few months. I have been busy. There is always some excuse though so it doesn’t really matter what it is. I hope to get back on the Search during May.

It is so easy to get distracted/suppress these feelings and just push things off. It isn’t fun and it is really complicated which certainly doesn’t help anything. I have also not been able to see my therapist given our conflicting schedules which has made me feel even more stagnant. We have decided to part ways and I am looking for someone else to see and get back into a routine of process and taking steps forward.

I have been doing a better job of being “real” about how I feel with friends and my sister which feels good. You know, just admitting that things weren’t great or that I didn’t feel loved unconditionally as a child…etc. It is just nice to be able to speak about those things with people who, although they may find it hard, are still able to see that the point is that I am trying to share and speak about my experience not blame or make others feel guilty.

I recently read a book called See No Color by Shannon Gibney and it was one of the first times I had read about the adolescent experience in transracial adoption. A lot of the emotions and feelings that the main character had resonated with me and hurt to read. Probably the hardest part of that book was reading her reunion with her biological father and the first words they share. It just felt like such an implausibility for me. I had never really walked myself through what that first meeting might be like and watching this 16 year-old girl do it in See No Color was mortifying.

It is a good read and quite quick.

I have also been running more frequently and I hope the development of that routine will lead to other habitual things in my life like making more progress on an OCI and searching.

I wonder…


I wonder if my parents ever think of me.

I wonder if they love each other.
I wonder if they ever loved each other.
I wonder if my dad has patchy facial hair.
I wonder if my mom’s eyelashes are dark and beautiful.
I wonder if they are my parents.
I wonder if they walk to work.
I wonder if they have enough to eat.
I wonder if they have their own maid.
I wonder if their house has a marble floor.
I wonder if they lived through the 2004 Tsunami.

I wonder what their names are.

I wonder if they remember me.
I wonder if they are healthy.
I wonder if I am healthy.

I wonder what it felt like to say goodbye.

I wonder if they had a choice.
I wonder if they named me.
I wonder if they are alive.
I wonder if they died happy.
I wonder if I have siblings.
I wonder if they know I exist.
I wonder if they love me.
I wonder if I love them.
I wonder if I’ll ever know them.
I wonder if I have someone’s eyes.
I wonder if I have someone’s laugh.

I wonder what its like to hug them.
I wonder what their voices sound like.

I wonder if I could understand them.

I wonder why they couldn’t keep me.

I wonder if I’ll ever know.

Stories


I have been trying to stories of other Indian adoptees who have searched to try to gain some perspective on what it takes. I have found a few stories and have posted questions in a few different FB groups to see what kind of support can be found there. Some general thoughts are that there isn’t a whole lot of support for Indian adoptees searching and that there aren’t many publicized stories. This may be in part because someone said there are under 15,000 Indian adoptees in the U.S. which isn’t really that many and who knows what age range they span.

A few of the stories I have come across are listed below:

Monisha – “My name is Monisha. I’m 29 years old and I was brought up in the Netherlands. I was born in a government hospital in Sawantwadi, Maharashtra, in May 1985.”

Nitin Ganatra –

‘The Fairy Tale of an Indian Adoptee’

Nisha G. – Strongly recommend checking out Nisha’s blog and the documentary of her search, “You Follow.”

I would like to talk to a few of these folks and will be looking for ways to connect with them in the coming weeks. Another name that kept cropping up while Googling my little heart out was Arun Dohle who seems to have been involved in helping a few people in their searches for biological relatives. I have also realized that most of the voices I am finding are of women who have searched, not as many publicized stories about men. I bet part of this has to do with there being more female adoptees from India than males.

Well, I’m losing steam for right now but will pick this back up later. Maybe I’ll work on my OCI application this week and try to get that moving while I consider how to keep moving forward. Oh, I also saw this therapist who specializes in adoption. It was a good visit the first time and I am looking forward to our next conversation at the end of the month. I’ll write more after my second visit with her.

Onward, I suppose.

Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry


I got a response from Illien Adoptions International. Its not good or bad news. They said that they had turned their records from when my adoption was processed (late 80s/early 90s) over to the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry.

Does anyone have experience with using registries like this? I’ll be honest and say I didn’t even know they existed. They require registration, obviously, and then a small fee to have them research your file. I plan on registering but wanted to know if anyone out there had experience with this type of thing.

My assumption is that these types of databases are tailored for domestic adoptions and not those adopted from other countries. It is also my assumption that they won’t really be able to provide me with the information I thought might be most helpful, information related to the case worked in India at the time of my adoption who was responsible for referring me to Illien.

I have sent a follow-up email with a few questions to Illien to try to get some information from them, not even about my case specifically but about what types of files they had that they passed along to the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry. Since I am internationally adopted I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have to deal as much with the confidentiality mess that plagues access to records for domestic adoptions here in the U.S. but that seems less likely now.

We shall see.

Dear Anna Belle Illien


This is a letter to Anna Belle Illien who was one of the people, or at least her agency, Illien Adoption International Inc., responsible for my adoption about a quarter of a century ago. I have never reached out to Illien the person or the agency but it is one of the connections that I have with my past and so I have drafted a short letter to Anna Belle to see what stance she will take in my request of information and support. I know that many have had negative experiences with adoption agencies especially in regards to searching but I can’t deny the fact that they could be a resource if they find any interest in my endeavor.

I will plan on sending this letter out in a few weeks and would welcome and comments and suggestions that others have if they have done similar things. I like to think I am open to constructive feedback and so if you have ideas about ways you think my letter could be more effective with the goal in mind of getting information from Illien I certainly welcome your words of wisdom.

“Dear Anna Belle Illien,

First and foremost I hope that this letter finds you well and warm this winter. I am writing to you as an adult adoptee who is beginning the searching process for biological relatives in India. As early as 1986 my parents hired your agency, Illien Adoptions International, to help them identify and adopt a baby. In early 1991 with the help of Illien and coordination with Lutheran Social Services my family officially adopted me from an orphanage in Trichy, India (SOC SEAD) and I was naturalized as a U.S. citizen nearly a year later.

As I continue this process of searching for biological relatives I have come across many documents and records pertaining to my adoption process. Much of these items are correspondences with you in the late 80s and early 90s. Your agency and social workers were instrumental in connecting my parents with an Indian child, ultimately me. I am trying to piece together my past and had a few questions and inquiries I wanted to make of you and your adoption agency.

I would very much like to learn more about my past and my life and biological relatives lives in India. I do not know your personal beliefs or your agency’s stance on searching or reunion as it pertains to adoptees but am hopeful you will see my requests as non-threatening and genuine.

It is my hope that you understand and empathize with my desire to reconnect with the culture and potentially relatives from which I came. In all likelihood any records you and your organization have are the best records and information that exist pertaining to my origin and journey to adoption.

My requests are simple and I see them as a beginning to a conversation, not demands or ultimatums but an invitation to collaborate as I try to find my way back to a foreign place I called home a quarter of a century ago.

Thank you for your time and entertainment of this unusual request. I hope to hear from you shortly.

Respectfully,

Kumar”

Ok, what did you think?

Should I include my requests in the first letter or should I save them to see if they respond to this initial letter? I feel like it is maybe a good idea to just send this “feeler” letter and then in a subsequent communication include the things I am hoping they will share with me. I am probably over thinking this but that’s what I get for waiting so long to start this process.

“What White Parents Should Know About Adopting Black Children”


“There’s no manual for raising children. Black children are no different, but black parents raising black children have been black children. White parents of black children have been white children. The disadvantage is nearly insurmountable. The victory is never flawless. And the preparation is never enough.” – La Sha

What White Parents Should Know About Adopting Black Children

Thanks for writing this La Sha and glad it got onto Huff Post. Its not flawless, but nothing is.

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