faith

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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Adoptees Connect

Please Don't Tell Me I Was Lucky to Be Adopted  Shareen Pine took the words right out my mouth. Her article that I included above is an article that spoke to me on so many different levels...

"Adoption loss is truly multi-generational"- Shareen starts off with a conversation that her daughter had with her friend about how she also feels like an adoptee because she lost her birth grandmother. I have always thought about my future children and how I wanted to create as much truth about their past as I could prior to me having them. I mean, the thought of my children was a major influence as to why I wanted to begin and complete my search for my birth mother and family. I wanted to be able to give to my children what my adoptive parents were not able to give or didn't know how to give. I wanted to provide names, pictures, answers, a story for them to pass on to their children.

What I didn't realize, was that is goes much farther than what I want and how I feel. Shareen acknowledged how her daughter felt and that is something that I never considered before. There is not much I can do now since I do not have any children yet, but I realized that no matter how many pictures or stories I tell them about my search and what I was able to find out, they are still going to experience the same loss as me... no relationships and no contact with birth family prior me. I think that Shareen's daughter is very wise to see herself as an adoptee in her own special way because besides me and my children's father, they will have no connections or ties; they too may feel a loss as I do.

"Adoptees are often so busy trying to prove that we're fine..." -This is how I would self soothed myself when I felt broken and lost not only as a child, but also as a young adult. My response to family's concerns up until recently has always been, I'm fine or Ill be okay. I didn't have the strength or the comfort to really express myself until I started counseling in college. A big part of not expressing myself was that I didn't have the language to do it. I didn't know how to talk about my feelings. I didn't know how to not feel guilty. I didn't know how not to worry about what people thought or how I would make them feel if I yell out, I hate being adopted. I didn't know that it was okay and that it was absolutely normal to have these feelings because I was constantly being reminded to feel lucky and grateful. I would speak the words of feeling lucky and grateful to others without them having any meaning behind them. I could feel myself forcing these words out because that is what people wanted to hear and expected me to feel. I allowed others' expectations to override and bury my truth.

"Can you imagine being the only person in the world you know you’re related to?"- Right!?! This is really an odd and confusing feeling, especially being around family and friends who are all biologically connected and related to one another except to me. I didn't really get this feeling until my little brother was born. All I could hear was how much he looked like my father. Looking back on that now, it was really a weird experience and odd to be around those conversations. I felt left out. I would always wonder if my parents attention would spark at that moment and think about how I may feel. I was hopeful that they would turn to me and ask me how I felt or even acknowledged that that is a conversation I wouldn't be a part of.  We all remained quiet.

"...Or why they told me that my adoptive parents saved me."- I have heard it all. My adoptive parents saved me, my birth mother loved me so much that she had to surrender her rights to raise me, your life is so much better now, you probably would have been a prostitute or better yet, dead in the gutter because that's what Indians do to the female babies. Talk about a lot of shit to hear and try to make sense of as a young child. For some reason, it did always amaze me how these possible truths came from people who have never been to India, never lived in India, and don't  know shit about my birth mother and her truth at the time of my birth. It took me all the way up until just a few years ago to accept that these people wanted to feel like saviors and that they wanted to feed their ego. Their words were so inaccurate after I found out what my truth was that it now makes me laugh at how stupid they all look now.

Even till this day, I think about what my life could have been like if I were to stay with my biological family in Goa. Never once do I think or feel that it would be worse or better than my life now.

To close this post, I would like to say thank you to Shareen Pine and her daughter for speaking out and sharing their truth. Validation is so important in adoption and I cannot begin to express how much I have learned from their words.

The Colorblind Game Failed

Whenever you are sad, who do you talk to? When you are depressed, who do you confide in? When you are confused, who do you speak out loud to? When you are lost, who do you go find? During my moments of feeling sad, depressed, confused, and lost I had no one to run to. Yes, my family was there, but what I had to say was not going to be something that they wanted to hear. Growing up, my family played the colorblind game with me and acted as though I was no different and just one of the family members. They are not to blame, considering the education around transracial adoption was very limited thirty years ago. I blame the adoption agencies that were only out to make money and close files.

My adoption, my loss, my mental health or that of my sister's was never a topic of conversation. Without the dialogue, I grew up confused and learned to repress my feelings as if they were not important or valid. How can I speak up about my loss and confusion surrounding my adoption if it was never acknowledged? As a child, how could it be left up to me to yell out? As a child, I didn't want to draw any more attention to how I was different than what was already apparent physically.

As a young adult, I have tried reaching out to my parents. I remember giving them both the book, 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew with  highlighted sections that spoke to me specifically. Neither one of them reached out to continue the conversation. I talked to my dad not long ago about how hard it can be sometimes to be adopted and he replied that he had no idea about it all and was silent. He has yet to bring it up again. When I speak to my mother, she takes a lot of it personal as if I am telling her what a horrible job she did as a parent. I can understand that. A the same time, what I need from my parents is for them to listen and validate me. I need them to bring up the conversation first, I need them to ask me questions, I need them to take care of me. As much as I push away, I need to them to keep coming after me because I keep drifting farther and farther away.

Now that I am an adult in my thirties, I think I must look to others for support because what I need is not going to come from my parents at this point. It has been very tough to accept this.

The feelings that I have about my adoption are not great feelings. At this point in my healing process, I am not really a fan of adoption and the joys that it brings to everybody else's lives. Even till this day, I still catch myself suppressing feelings of loss and sadness. I didn't want to continue this unhealthy cycle, so I started this blog to release the tension and break down my barriers. I haven't told my parents about it, nor do I think I will. I'm hoping this outlet will lead to acceptance and the belief that my life is suppose to happen the way that it is set up now. I'm not there yet, but maybe.  As much as I want to talk to my parents, I don't think what I have to say is what they want to hear. I think at this point, it is better that I now play their colorblind game and take my sorrows to therapy and my blog. :)

Why Am I in Grad School?

I am currently in the middle of my second year and I have one more year to go. Throughout the whole time, I kept asking myself, "Really Nisha, why are you in school?" I immediately get this feeling in my gut that tells me the wicked truth and I quickly transfer my thoughts back to security, my mother did it, my sister did it, become an independent woman, take advantage of the education that I have here in the States, and you cant be nobody without an education. Well, I am beginning to believe that this is not all that true. Yes, I am glad that I am fulfilling a goal that I set for myself, but is it a goal that I set or that my family set for me. Its almost like I am doing it to get it out of the way and to prove some point to my family and society; society being those that tell me, "you are so lucky to be here. Girls in India don't get an education and so you have to take advantage of that." That again is a very heavy responsibility to carry on my shoulder. The one thing that I don't really care too much about school is this feeling that I have, this feeling of being tied down from doing anything I wish to do on my own. I have sacrificed trips to Europe with my best friends and intimate relationships even just to "take advantage like a good adoptee should" I think the main reason why I decided to go back to school is because I felt lost. I felt lost on what it is that I am suppose to do. I was never taught to look within myself for the answers, but instead to look in to the very highly expensive school system.

Don't get me wrong, I am going to finish eventually, but I am going to keep myself open to all possibilities in the end as far as working and building a career. I was actually told by my spirit guide that he didn't believe that I was meant to do what I am studying to do (Vocational Rehab Counseling), but to go ahead and finish because it will allow some doors to open for me. At that moment, he confirmed to me the wicked truth that sits in my gut. Agh!

So, now I am here. I am doing what I am told, finishing school like I am suppose to and mentally preparing myself to pay off thousands of dollars in debt. One the bright side of things, I am actually quite excited about the future and the possibilities that are going to open up for me later on. Truthfully, my dream would be to get paid to travel! Ill keep you updated.

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I Am All Grown Up Now... Well, Kind Of.

I am 31 years old and I seriously thought that I had my shit together. I mean, I graduated college, I traveled back to India twice, I searched for my birth mother, I am financially independent, emotionally stable, and I'm in graduate school. Seems like I have my shit together, right?! Well, surprise! I don't. It was just about a month ago, I thought I was doing well until I got an email from a woman who happened to find me while searching for the woman who owned my orphanage years ago in Goa. She is responsible for turning my life upside down, in a good way of course. She explained to me that she used to intern at my orphanage in 1993 (10 years after I was there). As we began to exchange emails, she further told me about the life she lived inside those walls during her four month stay. To be honest, it is truly a miracle that she found me by chance. She shared stories about the other women working with her, the routine she had with the children, and the food that she ate. The best part is that she had pictures!!! She sent me a few pictures of the children and women she worked with and in the background were the white cribs all lined up. At that moment, I broke down. For an adoptee who knew absolutely nothing about her first home during the first six months of her life, the shock of receiving pictures of the orphanage during the time it was in "business" was life changing, not to mention the crib where I would rock myself to sleep every night and lay my head to dream. Yes, she was there 10 years after I was, but things in India rarely change, and if there are changes, it's not over night. Her stories and her photos filled in the first six months of my life and she is proving, in a way that I existed before my family picked me up from the airport. You may be asking yourself why is it that I trust her or could she may be lying to me. I briefly doubted her for a moment as well, but she explained the house exactly how I remembered it when I visited (it was empty at the time) and explained the woman who owned my orphanage exactly the way that others have explained her. The front yard and backyard in the photos resemble the images in my memory from when I visited years ago. At times like this, trust and faith slip in and remove all doubt. A sudden ease settles in and pure joy sets off. My tears shortly started flowing down my cheeks. Unlike many adoptees I know, I am able to rewrite my history and my life before coming to the US. These stories are not just for me, but for my future children and their children and their children.

Although pure joy settled in, a much deeper emptiness arose that I had never felt before. Yes, I have gained a new page in my personal history book, but I have also began to grieve the loss of my birth family. As soon as I returned back to the States after meeting and getting denied by my birth mother, I accepted it, and quickly moved right back into work and school mode like I was "suppose to". Regardless of the situation, I never took time to grieve the loss of my mother, my siblings, my life in India; instead I did what I thought I was suppose to, which was accept and move on. This is the emptiness that I am struggling with at the moment. This is the loss that I am working through. This is the "what ifs" that I am fantasizing about. This is the painful side of adoption. I can no longer bury it and act like the bigger person. I need to grieve and continue to cry everyday about being and feeling absolutely alone here. This is my time to not be a grown up.

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