On the Premiere of Calcutta is My Mother…

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I’m overwhelmed by the kind words, enthusiasm, and support for Calcutta is My Mother and for me, personally. As difficult as this process has been, revealing myself and my story in this film is a privilege; not one I take lightly. The depth of vulnerability captured throughout the filming process was and is still painful for me, but I’m glad to have articulated my thoughts and emotions so candidly.

On this day, less than two weeks from the official premiere, I feel tender and humble. Fragile. Fragile is an accurate descriptor. I’m excited too, though.

Calcutta is My Mother was filmed nearly 4 years ago. When we began discussing the project, I was in the early stages of *coming out of the fog (I didn’t even know that was a thing at the time) and Michael (Director and Executive Producer) brilliantly captured my un-fogging in real time, from beginning to…well…grief.

In addition to documenting my journey out of the fog, the film reveals my desperate need to express gratitude and a feeble attempt to disguise the grief I’d just begun navigating. Those are two crucial pieces of my story. While I’ve grown more comfortable with providing space to elevate other adoptee voices through my work at Dear Adoption, I’m both eager and hesitant to share the film in all its rawness. I believe there’s value in every shared adoptee experience; this is a glimpse of mine.

The film is not a display of bravery. I didn’t really know all I was getting into and was quite naive about the entire thing, honestly. I simply said, “yes” when asked to be the Subject of this film. Most days I’m a mess of nerves and fear; fear of being misunderstood, mischaracterized, and worst of all, fear of being seen.

It’s important to note that I am not, and have never claimed to be, a spokesperson for any adopted people. Each of us has a unique experience and all stories should be heard, valued, and received individually. I hope the sharing of my story ultimately leads to more acceptance of adoptee voices; even one small shift in one open mind. This is why we share. As you know, I like to refer to this as the Adoptee Movement; a reclaiming of the adoption narrative which I believe belongs first to those who have been adopted and then to our first families.

I’m one in an enormous, significant community of many; a community which possesses resilience, strength, and boldness. Despite society’s repeated efforts to silence or speak over us, adopted people continue to press on with fierce determination. Our lives, rooted in loss and blank space have the ability to flourish and rise. Roots gone, and still, we grow. Not all flourishing looks the same and I love that about us. Adoptee communities are contentious and passion filled and we don’t all agree, but I like that. I never used to listen to people with whom I didn’t agree. And I never used to learn. Listening has changed my whole world. Others’ shared anger, joy, passion, losses, and opinions have opened my eyes and make me want to see and hear and learn more.

I hope society will grow thirsty to listen to less popular narratives in adoption. I hope for a time in which silence falls when an adopted person shares their story and their feelings surrounding their story. I hope that in those silent moments people learn from those with whom they may share no common ground. We all have much to learn and a willingness to listen is where education begins and change sprouts.

I am hopeful.

This film, this time has me hopeful.


*Coming out of the fog is a term frequently used to describe the realization and acknowledgment of adoption realities such as adoption trauma for adoptees and first families, unethical practices within adoption agencies and orphanages, and a general recognition of grief and its impact due to adoption.


If you’re ready to listen and learn, here are just a few good places to begin…

Dear Adoption,

Jessica Sun Lee

Bleeding Hearts

The Ungrateful Adoptee

Ethio-American Daughter

Adoptees On

Anne Heffron

Adoption Truth & Transparency Worldwide Network

Declassified Adoptee

Intercountry Adoptee Voices

How Does it Feel to be Adopted?

Christina’s Thoughts

4 thoughts on “On the Premiere of Calcutta is My Mother…

  1. Reshma, words cannot express how much I appreciate all you do for adoptees and how excited I am for the showing… I have even discussed driving from Yakima to be there for it!! I am honored to call you my friend and will always treasure your honesty and advice when I needed it so much

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Reshma,

    Congratulations on the premiere of Calcutta is My Mother! I appreciate the sharing of your experience to the community.

    You made a sweet impression on my daughter, Shobha, at camp last year (it may have been the year before). She was in the 6th grade group and is adopted from Nepal. She’s now 13 and is interested in interviewing you as part of a personal growth project at her school. (She goes to a Waldorf school.) They are asked to do an interview with an “admired adult” and she decided she wanted to interview an adult adoptee. She can tell you about the other parts of the project if you’re interested.

    If this is something you would be able to make an hour or so for (at a time convenient to you outside of school hours), please let us know. Shobha does not yet have an email address but she can write to you directly via my email address, or I can make the arrangements (possibly easier because I know our schedule a bit better). I believe she needs to do the interview sometime in March.

    We are in California, so an hour earlier time zone.

    Thank you in advance for considering this and letting Shobha know whether it is possible.

    Best wishes, Joy

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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