We here at Land of Gazillion Adoptees are elated to announce that Indian adoptee A.J. Bryant’s World Citizens Blog is merging with LGA! In the next few weeks, World Citizens Blog readers will be redirected to LGA and A.J., whom we’ve featured in the past, will introduce his past posts to LGA readers. We’re looking forward to ’em!
I am excited to begin sharing my thoughts with you, and slowly introducing myself through my past blog posts. In 2009, after years of back-and-forth in my head about blogging, I finally decided to put my words into cyberspace. In order for readers to get to know me, I said this in “Who am I“:
I’m an Indian adoptee born in Kerala who came to the US as a baby in 1980. I’ve lived in the Washington DC area for the past six years. I grew up Madison, Wisconsin and then went to high school in NJ. My undergraduate years were spent at the U. of Delaware. I have a MA degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University.
The blog title “World Citizens,” is a term other adoptees and myself use to describe the connection with both our birth culture and the country where we now live. Our identities frequently straddle both worlds, yet we sometimes can’t identify fully with either one. I love to connect with other adoptees and hear their stories. I also enjoy hearing from adoptive parents and anyone interested in the topic of international adoption in general.
I have two adopted siblings from India, but we are not blood relatives. My parents reside in NJ and are fully supportive of my adoption exploration. I’m blessed to have been raised by a Mom and Dad who did their best to understand my life and experience as an adopted person. They also have put in effort over the years to keep our birth culture alive within us all. They are always open to questions and we all learn together. This blog would not be possible without their support and constant love.
I have been involved in the international adoption community since 2006, speaking on panels and generally being as transparent in my feelings as possible, and how my identity as an adoptee has colored the way I look at life. I believe that everyone adopted or not, has a life narrative that contributes to making our human interaction richer, like a tapestry of many colors with the threads making up our individual experiences.
Lastly, this blog is about reclaiming “my voice” as an adult international adoptee and sometimes speaking for others; voices that have been marginalized, ignored and sometimes forgotten.
And to kickoff World Citizens Blog, I wrote my first piece entitled “Celebrating my Adoption Anniversary” – A.J. Bryant
Celebrating my Adoption Anniversary
My name is A.J and I was adopted from Kerala, in South India. I came to the US when I was nearly one year old and to a couple who lived at the time in Madison, Wisconsin. I have a brother and a sister who are also adopted from India, though they are not from Kerala (too bad for them). As time goes on, I will reveal more of my own adoption story. Like many others it’s a narrative mixture of beauty, sorrow, loss, passion and hope.
Today is my 29th anniversary of coming to the U.S. and to my family. Other families have named it their children’s “airplane day”, or “gotcha” day. In my house, it was, and always has been referred to as our “adoption anniversary.” Growing up this day was celebrated with great fanfare by my family. My mom would usually make my favorite meal for dinner (usually tandoori chicken and saffron rice), we’d have a special prayer time, thanking God for bringing me into their lives and then cap the evening off with a slide show. The pictures consisted of my first few minutes off the plane with my social worker and the initial days in my new house and my parents.
As a young kid I didn’t grasp the significance of the day’s importance. I understood in some minimal way that my present mom and dad were not my birth parents, if only for the fact that they didn’t have the same brown skin as I did. But in my childhood, I did not fully realize what it meant to be adopted. My parents always told me I was adopted, they have always been completely open about where I came from, but I was too young to know what being adopted meant.
The anniversary ritual was the same for both my brother and sister, eating their favorite foods and then watching their arrival slides as well. When I fully understood the ramifications of my anniversary and that it represented a new life- the family wasn’t commemorating the day as often. After a while it became something mentioned by my parents in passing. Eventually a day or two would go by and then I would realize it HAD been my anniversary, and someone would acknowledge the oversight.
As time wore on the special day just morphed into just another day. I fully understand that our whole family was busier. I was also in Junior High, maybe in High School, I was rarely at home. Besides I’d seen those slides seemingly hundreds of times. The sibling’s arrival slides were shown for all manners of guests that had any interest in our adoption, so I had watched them quite a bit.
Sometime during college as I was wrestling with my adoption and all the feelings which accompany it, I started celebrating my anniversary on my own. My initial celebrations were dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant, the first two years I went alone, with a book as my company. I specifically chose Indian food as a way to viscerally remember my Indian heritage, though I doubt I was eating lamb rogan josh when I was one year old. Over time I started bringing close friends to join me in my anniversary Indian meals.
I’m thankful that my parents marked the special day as I was a child and up through my early teen years. I think it’s important for families to celebrate the day in their lives when their children first join their families. It creates a sense of community and really helps the child know they are in the family and a part of it. I know for me it strengthened bonds of my family and with my parents because I knew they really loved me.
So today I reflect on the day I came to my family. I marvel at where I am now and how far I’ve come. It’s a far cry from being a terrified little baby on a jumbo jet- to flying halfway across the world to Wisconsin and meeting two loving parents. Now I’m an adult, living in the nation’s capital, with a life blessed beyond description. And tonight I’ll be eating Indian food, with a friend. Just like I always do on June 15th.