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.
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.”
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.
“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
Thanks for writing this La Sha and glad it got onto Huff Post. Its not flawless, but nothing is.
This is not what I wanted my next post to be about but after reading the article I just read I can’t not respond to it, although I know this response has been written thousands of times. Grrrr, so frustrating.
Just a short hour ago I was reading an article I had seen come across my news feed a few days ago written by Dr. Robin Diangelo entitled, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism.” It was a great piece that I feel brings up many good points about the difficulties that surround the topic of race in these United States. After reading it I decided to peruse the rest of the The Good Men Project website since I know a few contributors and have enjoyed other pieces they have published. After just a few seconds on their home page I ran into an article entitled, “The Top 10 Reasons to Choose Adoption” by Mike Berry. If you are familiar with my blog you can probably stop reading now as you already know how I feel about pieces like this one which glorify adoption and actually actively recruit people to blindly adopt because it is their “calling.”
I don’t have the time right now to go through each point but I want to make a few things clear about the viewpoints put forth in this article.
- At the core the article is not about creating a better place for children who are in the unfortunate circumstance of not living with their biological relatives, it is about making each person feel like they have been called to adopt and to ignore any hesitations they may have had. Its essentially an advertisement for making impulsive decisions without thinking critically about any part of that decision. Just a reminder, having kids, anyway you choose (if you are lucky enough to be able to choose) to do it is a big deal! And guess what, when having children its probably a good idea not to just think about what you as prospective parents want out of this experience but what said child will get out of the experience as well.
- The article does not in anyway seem to humanize the children who are to be adopted. The focus of the article is on persuading people that adoption is the right thing to do for the world. It essentially is arguing that there are kids in need of homes (true) and people wanting children (also true) so why not pair both of them, voila happy family. Look, I am in total agreement that children should have families but I am not in favor of blindly calling out to all who want children to adopt because it is the “right” thing to do or that it will make the world a better place. In my opinion, the first and foremost concern throughout an adoption process, from the first time adoption as a means for having children crosses someone’s mind should be the well being of the potentially adopted child. One way to make the world a better place is to create a space in which a child can thrive and succeed, yes that is true. But adopting a kid doesn’t make you a good person and it sure as hell shouldn’t make you feel like you are some sort of savior. Ahhhhh, I want to keep ranting but its probably not even helpful, alas.
- Just, what the fuck!?
- I am immediately skeptical of anything written that just tells people that they should adopt. There are some people who should not adopt children. Is this a hugely unpopular thing to say, yes? Why, well lots of reasons because how the hell do you decide who or who should not have “the right” to adopt a child? I mean even that framing of the situation immediately frames the situation as an issue largely affecting adults interested in adopting not in finding the appropriate home for a child without a family. Adoption needs to be child focused. Every single part of the process needs to be focused on what is best for the child. I believe that when the process focuses on the well being of a child the result is more likely to be positive for all parties involved. Just wanting to adopt a child or just having thought once in your life that maybe you would like to adopt does not mean adoption is the right option for you or the child you may adopt.
- Read through those ten points and count the number of times the author refers to “you” and is talking about your needs, not the needs of a child that you may decide to adopt.
- There is so much more but I can’t keep going it is just making me angry.
I am disappointed that The Good Men Project decided to post this type of piece as a part of its content. They put out a lot of pieces that I feel are critical and difficult reads because they take issues and pull them apart. This article, however, was a complete disappointment that I think does more harm than good.
Blehhhhh, I never feel good after writing like this.
I have decided that in my searching process I would like to have some support as I move along, thus I have begun looking for a suitable therapist/social worker/mental health professional to help me along the way. I had at one point wanted to wait until I had a significant other who I felt would be able to support me but waiting for that to happen is like waiting for George R.R. Martin to publish the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, hopeless. Thus, I have decided to have some “professional” support, plus I am fortunate enough to have health insurance that will help cover the costs (being thankful for how lucky I am).
It turns out there are not a ton of people who work in the adoption support world professionally but living in a big city you don’t really need that many people you just need a few. I found someone who I had a great phone conversation with and I am looking forward to our first meeting. Things I was looking for specifically: someone with experience working with adult adoptees, a person of color, someone with experience in transracial and/or international adoption, someone who took my insurance and someone who was not contracting or working professionally with any agencies actively involved supporting the placement of children into non-biological families. You may be wondering why the last one, well it is important to me that whoever I choose to work with understands and fully accepts my not-so-rosy view on the way most adoption agencies are run. I did not want to work with someone who may be making most of their money (or any really) off of prioritizing the placement of children in families without the critical evaluation of whether or not that process was the best of even necessary step taken to support said child.
I understand that no one is perfect but I did want to find someone whose motives felt more aligned with me own. I am hoping this first individual will be that person. For others out there who may be looking for similar support I found this particular specialist and others using https://www.psychologytoday.com/ and using their “Find a Therapist” tab. I was very surprised at how helpful it has been thus far. When I asked my primary care physician he, unsurprisingly, didn’t really have any idea what resources he should point me to but suggested I contact adoption agencies, which I was not very excited to do given my brief explanation above.
I keep moving forward, slowly, but forward, I think. Maybe 2016 will hold a more consistent schedule of work towards this endeavor, it is so easy to push aside but I will strive to do more.
Happy December 21st.
It turns out I have kind of a lot of information about the process surrounding my adoption. There are lots of pieces of papers, many from the Indian Government or court system and many from the two adoption agencies that my parents utilized in their quest to find the perfect child, me! They utilized Illien Adoption International and Lutheran Social Services. My understanding is that when my parents began seriously exploring international adoption they utilized Illien and then switched to Lutheran Social Services after I was found. This is the first time I’ve looked up Illien and it seems they are still in business. Looking into these now would be too much of a distraction from the task at hand: saying what I know.
I feel like I have read through all of my “file” numerous times and each time I feel I learn new and surprising things. I also seem to find conflicting information. Today, I think I’ll just focus on the information provided by officials in India including the director of the Catholic organization that ran the orphanage where I spent the earlier years of my childhood.
Most of what I am going to share are pieces of information I think will be helpful in The Search. To set the mood I want to start with a few quotes from a document dated “Monday, the 21st day of January, 1991” and titled, “In the Court of the District Judge of Tiruchirappali.” The document is printed on old flimsy paper with worn and ripped edges, stapled together, the words typewritten in purple smudging ink and in total is 5 pages long not including attachments, which I cannot seem to locate in our own records. The document seems to be split into numbered sections:
- “(3) Minor Kumar is presumed to have been born on 18.4.1989. He was surrendered by his unwed mother, Mary to SOC SEAD on 2.3.90. The authorities of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod [SOC SEAD], Tiruchirappali tried to find Indian parents…..But no one came forward to adopt the child……hence the authorities of the [SOC SEAD] have offered minor Kumar in adoption to the petitioners [my parents].”
- “(6) Admittedly the minor child was surrendered by his unwed mother. No one in India has come forward to adopt the child. The petitioners are genuine in their desire to have the child. They undertake to bring up the child in good atmosphere. The child may not have any bright future, if it remains in India. An orphan or an abandoned child is considered as a curse in this land [India].”
A few short notes before I head to bed, I had no idea how much energy this would take, this is going to take longer than I had anticipated. On section (3), I am inclined to think that the usage of the verb “presumed” means that there is some uncertainty as to the date of my birth. This is something I have sort of known for a long time or at least assumed. My logic was that if the details about my early time in India was hazy then how could we really know if my birthdate was correct. This has also led to me not really being that interested in celebrating my birthday each year, because it feels fake and not like a celebration of my birth but like a celebration of an unknown. Another point of interest is that the section names my “unwed mother” as Mary. I find it highly unlikely that my mother’s name was/is Mary, but what the hell do I know, right? I guess it seems plausible that if there was a young Indian woman in India who surrendered a child to a Catholic orphanage that her name may very well be Mary, especially if she sought out the Catholic orphanage. Either way, the name in of itself doesn’t seem particularly helpful on its own.
Lastly, I am somewhat surprised that the SOC SEAD attempted to find Indian parents for me, and most likely other orphans they provided for. I am not too surprised that none came forward especially given what is written in section (6). Section (6) is not very nice sounding, it kind of hurts my feelings. It is nice to hear about these petitioners coming from afar to take this unwanted orphan but it sucks that the cultural context in India at the time was not favorable to placing orphans in Indian families. It worries me much that this cultural belief is referenced in court documents from the earl 90s because of what it may say about the attitude of the contactable biological relatives I may have in India. As I have written before, it scares me that me searching for someone could lead to social ostracization of biological relatives or even worse being disowned. It also makes me very wary of seeking out help from the Indian legal system as it was developed and is probably still quite influenced by such cultural norms and stigmas toward unwed childbearing and orphans.
I’ll continue to add information in the coming weeks as I continue to dig through old gems like this court document. Thanks for sticking with me folks.
It’d be so much easier if you were here. You would remember names, places, stories and details I was too young to remember and mom was not present to experience. Your encouragement, practical insistence, on me returning to India before you died was the only reason I have ever been back to India in my life. It is no coincidence that I haven’t returned since then and since you have died.
It really pisses me off sometimes that you died. I mean, what the fuck? Especially when we were still young. I feel like I never got to know you as a person outside of my father.
I know you would’ve wanted me to return, connect and explore my connection to India. Even just that expectation from you would be enough pressure to move me forward, I hated letting you down, especially when you were sick. I remember when we left for India both us kids crying because we didn’t want to leave you, not know if we’d see you again. You were right, I needed to go, but I also needed you to be there to make me do it. I need you again, I need you to make me do this. You knew I wanted to but didn’t know how and here I am again in a similar situation. You quite literally brought me across that ocean once before and helped me find my way back the first time, I need help again and you are no longer here.
It hurts so bad to do this without you here. Without your support and guidance. I don’t know what I’m doing and sometimes just want to be able to ask for your help. Its so strange that it has been almost exactly 10 years since we last spoke. As I sit here writing about how badly I wish you were here to tell me what to do, I know I would probably just ignore it anyway staying true to my obstinate form as an adolescent.
I miss you dad, trying to channel your inner calmness and acceptance of the world, challenges and all, to help move me in this direction I want to go but don’t quite know how to go.
Thanks for listening.