birthname

New York Screening of YOU FOLLOW: a search for one's past

NYIf you are in the New York area on July 14th, then please join me in watching my film about my search for my birth mother in Goa, India. After the screening, I will be available to answer any questions about from the audience.

To watch the trailer and learn more about YOU FOLLOW: a search for one's past, please visit youfollowthefilm.com

To purchase tickets to the New York screening, please visit wearegazillionstrong.org

[vimeo 125709576 w=500 h=281]

Gazillion Trailer from sharmila ray on Vimeo.

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Love Is Not Enough

A few weeks ago I was asked by a friend of mine to participate on a panel for an organization that she works for called Sierra Forever Families. She wanted to create a training for the staff from all three locations that focuses on the perspective of adult adoptees and foster care alumni. At first I was thrilled at this opportunity because I didn't and still don't quiet get that my voice is what people want to hear. I am so used to hearing the beautiful side of adoption, not the sad and lonely side of adoption. My experience at the training as a panelist proved that what I had to say not only seemed like something that they haven't heard but something that they may of needed to hear in order to help the younger generations of adoptees and children in foster care. Going back to hearing professionals on television and professionals in books, I would hear the word love thrown around like it was a cure all remedy when it comes to adoption and bringing a child into a new family and home.

"Love is all they want"

"Love is all they need"

"Every child deserves to be loved"

I do agree with all of these statements, but it goes much deeper then just love. Love is just not enough.

Unconditional love is what is needed. Unconditional love means that I can act out and not be left alone again. Unconditional love means that I can cry and grieve my first family and not feel ashamed about it. Unconditional love means that I can have both families in my life and heart and I not have to chose. Unconditional love is walking down this emotional path with my family. Unconditional love is a great understanding from all members of the family.

To go even deeper, unconditional love is still not enough.

What would have been enough? I don't know if there could have ever been enough to take away the pain and fill up the loss.

I do know that awareness that my experiences are different as a woman of color could of helped. Having a support group of other adoptees while growing up would have helped. Talking about my birth mother in a beautiful way would have helped. Being in therapy would have helped. Not hearing assumptions that my birth mother may have been a prostitute would of helped. Being advised on how to deal with racism would have helped. Being told how to be proud of my dark brown skin would of helped.

With that said, Love Is Not Enough

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The Value In My Name

I am not one to put a lot of weight on labels when trying to describe myself to others. In fact, I make an effort to detach myself from labels as much as possible. After much thought, there is one label that I value and am proud to have and that is my name. My name was given to me by my birth mother, and although my parents had the right to change it during my adoption process, I am so happy that they chose not to. To be honest, it seems very unnatural to change a child's name if they already have one. Having the same name my birth mother gave me remains to prove that I had a family prior to the family that I am a part of today.

Why did my parents keep my original name (first and last)? To find out, I reached out to them and got their answers. My dad simply stated that they liked my first name. The reason they moved my last name to become my middle name was because they wanted to keep me connected to my family linage in case I wanted to search later on in life. :)

The way that I see it, my name is a gift from my birth mother. She is the one that sacrificed her life, her family, and her safety to give me life and a name that may have meant something special to her. There is no reason in the world why that should not be honored. To be honest, I feel that my name is really the only thing that I have of hers, which is probably why I value it so much.

My name does not only connect me to her, but it also connects me to India and my past. It almost proves that I am still part of my birth family even though I am living on the other side of the world. Through adoption, I was uplifted from Goa. My name keeps me grounded and tied to India in a way that reminds me that I was never uprooted from Goa. I can see the difference now.

To keep honoring my birth mother and family, I plan on passing down my middle name to all my future children and I hope that they choose to do the same. I feel compelled to keep them connected to their natural family lineage and by passing down my middle name is the least I can do for them.

To hear that some adoptive parents do in fact change their children's name through the adoption process, breaks my heart. I'm sure that they have their reasons, but hopefully their reasons are for what's best for their children, and not for creating a false reality around their own needs and insecurities.

Although it does break my heart, at the same time, I love to hear that adult adoptees are taking back their birth names. To some of us, connecting to our authentic identity begins with a name or it may end with a name. Either way, adoptees are exercising their freedom of choice, which can be taken away as an adolescent.

I am able to honor and carry my identity, my India, my past, and my birth mother and family with me everyday because my name has remained the same since birth. Thank you, mom and dad!

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