To My Amma On Birthmother’s Day
I just learned about this day a few years ago, and how ironic that it comes the day before Mother’s Day. But it gives me the space to remember you and honor you and all that you were to me and grieve what I lost when we we were separated.
When I saw a medium several years ago I was told you were my spirit guide and I’ve felt you more today than I have in a long time. I got the chance to speak to some like-minded Indian adoptees and when I say it was soul food—literally what I needed as this painful weekend comes up.
I look for you everyday in all that I am and in all I do — in my curly hair, in my dimples, when I wash my face, when I’m laughing. I look for traces of you and wonder what remains. I scour through photos of myself and stare in the mirror hoping to think of some kind of resemblance to a woman whose face I’ve never known.
This is adoption. These are the unknowns. These are the thoughts that consume me this Birthmother’s Day and Mother’s Day weekend. I will forever wonder if thoughts of me consume your mind as well, but no matter what I hold this day in my heart to honor the woman who breathed life into me.
“My mother was my first country. The first place I ever lived.” – nayyirah waheed
27 years. 27 mark 9,855 days since you last held me. With each year that passes it feels like I can physically feel the distance between us increasing. My chances of finding you are less and less.
“I am trying to remember you and let you go at the same time.” It’s like Nayyirah knows exactly what I’m feeling. I’m trying to find you and find who you are in me, but I also have to come to terms with the reality that I will probably never see you again.
I saw the gutter I was left in. Is that all I am to you? A piece of trash not even good enough to keep, let alone leave in a place of more dignity and care?
Maybe you didn’t care. That’s ok. But I’m never going to give up on finding you.
I hope I’m doing the right things. I hope you can feel me too. I hope you never stopped loving me.
I hope you are looking for me too.
Somewhere halfway around the world, we are turning 26.
This was written last week on a particularly emotional and difficult evening. Every year as my birthday gets closer and closer, a heaviness comes over me—a heaviness that only adoptees seem to understand.
Aai, I went through my wedding photos today. I looked for you in every single one. I searched my face for features that might have resembled yours. Some moments I feel my heart can’t handle the agony of knowing you will never see me in my bridal saree. Other moments I am comforted because I felt your presence all around me every moment that day. I felt like a true indian bride and I longed to see what you looked like on your wedding day. Maybe we looked the same. I ache for you.
So many milestones you’ve missed, and I have missed many of yours. There will always be one we share. 26 years ago I was still a part of you. You were my first home. We only had a week left to be together. I so wish I knew your thoughts during those last few weeks and days. I can only hope you were not alone.
We are turning 26, and each year that passes adds more and more distance between us but I will never give up on trying to find you. You are forever in my heart, my aai. Please don’t forget me.
To my aai, the only piece of me that is a world away.
I am so so heavy. I am missing you so deeply. Deeply doesn’t even seem to cover it. I look in the mirror and I travel back in time to you. I’m exhausted. I’m in a shell that I don’t want to retreat from. In a time where I already feel overwhelmed and anxiety ridden, friends from all sides are overwhelming and overpowering me calling me a traitor only for standing up for what I feel is right to me, just as they are doing also. There is nothing wrong with that, but i feel so small. I already feel small. I am feeling a little more alone than I did before, and before there was already only one of me in the world so there is that. I miss you. I hope you’re missing me, if you remember I exist.
To My First Mother on Mother’s Day
I recently found out that Birthmother’s Day exists. It is traditionally celebrated the day before Mother’s Day. What a weekend full of pain for those whose mothers are only a memory (or lack thereof).
Although there are good days where the crushing weight of your absence in my life is a little less heavy, and although there are days where I don’t stare in the mirror trying to find traces of you in the reflection, today is not one of those days. Today I can hardly move. Today is a day where I ache so deeply for you.
To the woman who carried me, bore me, and saw my first breath in this world, you are with me today. I wish you could’ve been here with me through every stage of life, but that is not how fate would have it. I look back on the files in my possession from the agencies and I can’t help but stare at the photos wondering what traces of you I’m seeing. If I could turn back time I would go back to the day we were together–my first and last day with roots.
Not a day goes by without thoughts of you, but today they run rampant throughout my mind. I have come to the realization that I won’t get to meet you again in this life. I will never know your face, nor the circumstances surrounding why we were separated. That is a weight nobody will understand but those who are experiencing this journey with me.
On this weekend that is meant to recognize mothers and birthmothers, I remember you. I will never forget. I carry you with me everyday. Happy Mother’s Day.
To my birthmom on Christmas
And so the Christmas holiday comes to an end, which means my (approximate) day of birth soon follows. Another year separates me from you. Since I was a child I have written letters to a woman who is so much a part of me but who I have never known.
It is not an exaggeration when I say that not a day goes by where I’m not reminded of you or I don’t think about you. I wonder if you think about me around this time of year. I wonder if my hands are beginning to look like yours did 24 years ago. I wonder if I got them from you, or if I got my funny earlobes from you. Or maybe I got my monkey feet from you. It’s an overwhelming and painful reality that I’ll never know.
I don’t know where you are this holiday or if you even celebrate, but you are a part of me and so I think of you today, wondering if you think of me also. Merry Christmas, mom. You are with me always.
“Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”
This photo was taken November 16th, the day my little nephew Noah was born. I remember holding him for the first time and being so careful to protect his neck and his head. He was so tiny and fragile, I didn’t dare do anything that might cause him harm. As I held him that first day, all I could think of was newborn Pranali. I must have been born premature, because at 23 weeks when I was admitted to the orphanage, I was only 4 lbs. In this photo, Noah was about 6 lbs. On my first day of life, I must have been extremely fragile and tiny. All I could think of was how at his age, I’d already been abandoned by the only people who were supposed to love me and protect me. It was a very sobering thought. I was so very thankful that Noah had two loving parents and a room full of people who already loved him more than anything.
This second photo was 3 days after Noah’s birth. As I took this photo, I remember thinking that at 3 days old, I’d already spent the first days of my life completely alone on the streets. I’ve known this my entire life, but having a newborn to hold and care for made this a tangible reality. At 3 days old, Noah was getting all of the snuggles and all the love he could possibly take. He cried if he was put down for too long because he would get either hungry or lonely. At 3 days old, I didn’t know what a mother’s loving touch was. I didn’t have a source of nutrition. I was sick, malnourished, and alone. At 3 days old I’d just been found by the Ahmednagar police and was in the hospital getting the medical care that I needed. The beginnings of our lives had been so very different, and it was a very sobering thought.
Watching my nephew grow has given me so much joy my heart can hardly handle it! But it is bittersweet to compare my own journey through early life with his. I can’t imagine abandoning a human so tiny, fragile, and innocent. If I could tell newborn me anything, it would be that the journey without familial and cultural connection will be long and difficult, but if I can survive the first few days of life alone then I can survive anything life throws at me.
I know that my precious nephew Noah will NEVER run out of people who love him and care for him and protect him. He will never have to wonder what a mother’s touch is and he will never have to be alone. He will never have to experience the pain of severed connection. I’m so very thankful that the love he’s already experienced this far in his early life will truly give him some protection forever.