Dear Adoption, I Have Not Just Survived but Also Thrived
I have survived after losing my birth mom and my birth dad.
I have survived a year (my first year) without biological nurture and nourishment.
I have survived being taken from my birth culture and birth home, even before I could speak those words.
I have survived being told that “you get asked to do speaking or presenting opportunities because you’re brown”.
I have survived being adopted into a home, school and town where there was no one who looked like me.
I have survived being made fun of fun for having darker skin.
I have survived homework assignments that revolved around making family trees and researching your health history.
I have survived being told “go back to where you are from” and “if we could send you back we would”.
I have survived the comments “you are so lucky to be adopted”, “at least you are not back in India anymore”, “you must have amazing parents” and “you’re parents must be so proud of you”.
I have survived assumptions and guessing games of “where are you from”.
I have survived the grief, pain and loss (I tried to flee from, but chose to move towards) in holding the loss of losing two moms and two dads and two families.
I have survived numerous Mothers Days & Fathers Days and the complexity that comes with those sacred days.
I have survived reading my paperwork from my adoption agency and coming to terms with the reality of not knowing pieces of my story.
I have survived intense trauma from inside my adoption home which should have been a place of safety, love and kindness.
I have survived from the feelings of not being “Indian” enough because of being adopted.
I have survived people telling me that they don’t see my color and that to them “I am practically white”.
I have survived being pulled over by the police with no reason given, asked to step out of the car and stood their as an officer mocked me.
I have survived countless questions from medical check ups about my unknown medical history.
I have survived being the only woman of color in the room countless times.
I have not only survived – but I have also thrived.
I have thrived in my journey of extending kindness towards myself as an adoptee.
I have thrived in holding the complexities of navigating being a woman of color and a transracial adoptee.
I have thrived in trusting Jesus Christ for provision, redemption and goodness.
I am thrived in stepping out in courage and bravery in stewarding my ethnic identity and adoption.
I have thrived in seeking resources, inviting others in and seeking counseling for the pieces of my story that need extra grace, kindness and justice.
I am thrived in holding the pieces of my story that have been uncovered, which have given me more of a sense of who I am and where I come from.
I have thrived in asking questions, reading and learning how to cook Indian cuisine from my birth culture.
I have thrived in walking in wonder and awe as I continue to learn more about my roots and the path ahead of me.
I have thrived because I have been steadfast in creating community around me that includes women who have been adopted and/or are women of color a little further down the path.
I have thrived in owning my adoption story through understanding how it has produced a fierce and lovely character in me that compels me to walk with security, kindness and a heart that beats for justice.
I have thrived in my faith journey as I have seen how adoption is woven through the scriptures and have gotten to know God through my spiritual adoption.
I have thrived in being called by my “first name” (given by those in my orphanage) that was discovered on the back of baby photo when I was 23 years old.*
I have thrived in resiliency as I continue to discover the beauty and hope that comes through a broken and painful adoption.
I have thrived as I seek to use my influence for a greater purpose in helping parents of adoptees learn and understand through being a bridge between their role and their adopted kiddos’ stories.
I am thriving because I continue to invite trusted and safe people into my story who carry and hold a space for me to share the sweet and bitter pieces of this journey.
I am thriving because I have shared the racial discrimination experiences and pressed into the shame of my story with others who have had similar experiences.
I am thriving because I can see that God’s hand has been in my story since the beginning (in India) and continues to help guide me as I re-narrate my story through the lens of the Gospel.
Dear adoption, I have not just survived but I also have chosen to thrive.
Sandhya Oaks (legally changed my name four years ago to Sandhya) is a woman of many passions, including adoption, racial justice, exploring the outdoors, a good cup of coffee and creating tasty charcuterie boards. She is adopted from New Delhi, India, and finds herself often crossing paths with and engaging stories of fellow adoptees. She has had the gift of returning back to her orphanage and meeting a few of the beautiful people who cared for her in the beginning of her journey. She is currently serving with Cru, Campus Ministry, in Minneapolis, Minnesota and loves developing and speaking to audiences from all backgrounds, places and spaces.