An Indian Adoptee Reclaims His Voice in the Desi Diaspora
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The Atlantic’s ‘Dear Therapist’ Surprising Response about Adoption

June 29, 2019
woman writing on a computer - representing an adoption therapis

The Atlantic Monthly magazine recently published a ‘Dear Therapist’ column about the adoptee experience.

A letter was written by a grandmother (Lynne) concerned that her daughter’s child whom she relinquished for adoption was not interested in knowing her biological mother.

The therapist’s response to Lynne was a reassuring piece valuing the adopted daughter’s experiences. I was shocked.

In the mainstream media and national publications, it is extremely rare for someone who is not an adoptee to articulate the adoptee experience as Ms. Gottlieb did. I commend her for writing an answer that centered the adoptee’s needs, and not the wants or needs of the biological mother or the grandmother.

Everyone should read this article

Her reply ‘legitimizes’ what so many adoptees have been saying and feeling for years. I use ‘legitimizes’ in quotes, because I think adoptees have their opinions disregarded as not professional enough or too experiential. Therefore, for a non-adopted therapist to say and use language that an adopted person would use, means we speak truth, not just personally, but objectively.

I double checked to ensure that Ms. Gottlieb is not an adoptee. I could scarcely believe that someone who is not adopted could write so eloquently about the feelings of adoptees and try to see things from their perspective.

One of my ‘adoption mantras,’ that I share consistently on this blog, and in person, is that ‘adoption is not about you, it is about the adoptee.’ People need to focus on them and their needs. This article reinforced that in a beautiful way.

In my experience the adoptee community quickly judges opinions and viewpoints which fail to recognize that adoption has two sides.

We (rightly) criticize writing and speech focusing only on the fairy tale adoption narrative but ignores the pain, loss, hurt, anger and other emotions that adoptees experience.

It follows we must also praise and support those writing about adoption.

Some clearly understand there are multiple angles to it. Like this therapist.

But, the adoptee community cannot just be one that tears down differing viewpoints, as wrong as those sentiments are. Everyone gains when adoptees are more engaged in the dialogue.

Can we really blame the non-adoptee community for being uninformed and ignorant about adoption realities – if until recently the entire narrative about adoption was written by adoptive parents and agencies?

I am glad this piece was written and was encouraged by its tone.  The admonishment that ‘right now, there doesn’t seem to be much regard for your daughter’s biological child’s wants or needs—your perspective seems to be all about your daughter’s desire for this relationship,” was a welcome change to typical adoption stories.

I hope that Lynne and her daughter open their eye and see the harm in placing their needs above their grand-daughter and child.

And I wish that all answers from non-adopted people were this thoughtful and considerate of the adoptee experience.

We babysat a white girl for a weekend. Everyone thought we adopted her.

March 3, 2015

The little girl’s name was Lily. Sasmita formerly nannied for the family and they asked us if we could watch her one weekend this past January at their D.C. house.

That Saturday we went to a trendy place a few blocks from their house called Union Market. It has a few restaurants and some specialty food stores, but it’s popular for its delicious and unique open-air freshly prepared food.

Located in a gentrifying neighborhood, Union Market is full of young professionals and families. Sasmita and I decided to lunch there, bringing Lily in a stroller.

I had not thought about it, until we were in a crowd, but the three of us together looked out-of-place. Two brown ‘parents’ with a white baby. I realized how rare mixed race adoptions are by minority parents. read more …

A Small Thank You to my Parents this Thanksgiving 2014

November 27, 2014

For those unaware, this is National Adoption Awareness Month. There has been a lot of social media about this, some good pieces in well-known magazines, like the NY Times and elsewhere. National Adoption Month, was created to raise awareness and celebrate foster care adoption. In recent years it has been co-opted by the Adoption lobby and by those painting all adoptions as the greatest thing that ever happened to families, while omitting adoptee voices and the heartbreak and loss inherent in the process.

A group of adoptees developed a campaign called #flipthescript doing their best to counter the rose-colored glasses view. I am participating, as the attempt offers thoughts on our personal adoption narratives, because adoptees themselves are not the ones people usually hear from.

That is one of the reasons I began blogging years ago. I thought my voice, as a male, Indian adoptee, deserved hearing, and I still believe that is true. However, since I began writing I realized my adoption story is quite different from other adoptees.

I choose to celebrate my adoption because my parents, David and Robyne Bryant, understood all sides of the adoption narrative and raised us with that knowledge.  Some adopted friends and colleagues had negative experiences with their parents/guardians regarding adoption. I was not one of them.

A quick aside, I do not and have never called the two people who adopted me, my adoptive parents. They are my parents. Period. I understand that a different woman gave birth to me, but she is my first/birth mother. I rarely call her my mother.

Some adoptees have tough stories of coming to their new country, and being adopted by families who disavowed they had a birth mother and father or came from another culture. I have no experience with that. While I lost some Indian culture through adoption, my parents worked and sacrificed to keep me tethered to it throughout my life.

I’m dedicating this post to them for all they did creating the best experience for me growing up adopted. read more …

Happy 4th Birthday to WorldCitizensBlog!

June 18, 2013

Dear Readers,

Sunday marked four years of putting my thoughts on the web as a blogger. It continues to be an incredible journey for me. On Father’s Day in 2009, I began this blog. I am amazed by where it has gone since. read more …

Guess who else hates Gandhi?

April 1, 2013

Dear Readers,
Below is a re-post from Land of Gazillion Adoptees as promised.

I’m also in the midst of re-designing this blog.

One of the more surprising revelations after living in India in 2011, was learning that the Dalits, formerly the “untouchables,” are no fans of Mahatma Gandhi. Coming from the United States and Western society in general, the Mahatma is held up as a paragon of non-violence and civil disobedience. I would guess that most in the US consider his life and his work as one of the most selfless, incredibly beautiful and inspiring of the modern world. The belief is less in India.

read more …

The AdoptedKeralite has returned to writing!

March 24, 2013

Dear Readers,

It’s been more than one year since I last posted here.

Sasmita is now my wife. She arrived from India in July of 2012, and we were married in August. We live in DC, and she has a full-time job as a nanny on the Hill, while I search for employment.

read more …

My India Internship

April 6, 2011

Through interacting with a number of adopted friends over the years, it is clear that many of us are involved in social work or have social justice passions and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence. I think that for some of us what we experienced growing up, feeling “different,” and not “fitting in” gave us a real insight into those in our society who suffer in the same manner and are in pain. I know I feel that way.

read more …

Still an Outsider-but that’s OK

February 25, 2011

Hello from Delhi,

In puzzling over what my first post from India should say, I decided to be more philosophical, real and shy away from the day to day narrative of my life here. Perhaps that will come later. This post, however, is more of a reflection on my evolution of thought, as an Indian adoptee.
read more …

Returning to my Roots

January 11, 2011

I hope everyone’s 2011 is off to a fantastic start.

It’s been forever since I last posted, but that is about to change. The last few months were packed with finishing up my graduate course work and planning the news I’m about to share with you. I will start writing on a much more frequent basis starting this month.

The reason…at the end of January, I’m temporarily moving to India.

read more …

A Mea Culpa and some Clarification-Part One

March 30, 2010

This blog is about how I feel. I was not trying to offend or make blanket statements in my last post. Before I go further, I realized I made some black and white pronouncements as my friend Carolyn (herself an adoptee) pointed out in my last entry. This post and the next one will generally be a fleshed out response to some of her thoughtful disagreements with that post. read more …

Musings on the “Benefits of International Adoption.”

March 9, 2010

My apologies for such a long time in between posts! Since I’m a DC resident I’ve been dealing with the snow, and that coupled with my graduate school studies have kept me quite busy. I’ve got some new posts in the pipeline coming soon, so be patient with me.

Some of you may have seen this recent Newsweek article, written by Jeneen Interlandi, an internationally adopted woman from Colombia. Overall I like the article, I think it’s timely and I agree with most of it. But there are a few ideas I’d like to explore.

The Benefits of International Adoption

read more …

Children of “their own.”

December 3, 2009

I happened upon this article last week and it brought up a few long standing topics in the adoption arena. But there’s one particular issue I’d like to examine today and that is the idea of an adopted child as “second best.”

“Adopting a New Attitude”

I get really annoyed when I tell people I’m adopted and then after the inevitable, “Have you met your real parents?” question, they ask me something similarly disturbing: “Were you adopted because your parents couldn’t have children of their own?” read more …

The Narrative Burden

July 20, 2009

It seems like an innocuous question, but for an international adoptee it’s a complicated one.

My typical response, “Madison, Wisconsin via Central New Jersey and I’ve lived in DC for about five years.” Which elicits a frown, or quizzical facial expression of the person asking and their follow up question becomes “where are you really from?” read more …