My readers may not know this: I was born in Kolkata, India, and adopted when I was nine months old. I came home to America on June 29, 2000, which means that today marks 21 years since I arrived here to be a part of my family. This day is as significant to me as the day of my birth. To me, Massachusetts will always be home. I grew up here, and it is the only home I ever remember. My family is the only family I’ve known.
I do, however, wonder about who brought me into the world and what they would think of me if they saw me today at almost 22-years old. Do they wonder where I am in the world? Would they remember me as a newborn baby? How much do I look like them? Do I have any biological siblings? These are all questions that are never too far from my mind.
My life in the United States hasn’t been without its hard times. Overall, I have had a pretty incredible life here in the United States. I’ve been blessed to have a fantastic family. I have been surrounded by loving people my whole life. My aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins have always been there for me. I have never been treated any differently because I was adopted. I was always just a niece, daughter, granddaughter, or cousin. Because my parents adopted me, I have had the pleasure of being an older sister for the past 17 years too.
Growing up, my parents were my greatest advocates, and they later helped me learn self-advocacy skills. They were there when I took my first steps and said my first word. They were the ones who were there whenever I had an operation or one of the numerous appointments I had as a child. My parents were the ones who advocated for me in school, at doctor’s appointments, and my many physical therapy appointments. For their devotion, I am eternally grateful.
I had a childhood that I look back on with fondness and joy. Despite my challenges, I remember being very happy when I was growing up. I loved reading bedtime stories with my parents and playing with them. From doing art projects in school to baking Christmas cookies with my mom to gathering with extended family for the holidays, those are some of my most cherished memories.
My education was and still is a big part of my life. I always loved school when I was growing up. I looked forward to learning every day. My favorite subject was always language arts. Throughout my school career, I was fortunate enough to have known many excellent teachers, therapists, and instructional assistants. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to attend classes with my peers and that my teachers saw me as a whole individual and, more often than not, embraced my disability.
I have also been fortunate enough to know some pretty amazing friends. My friends have always taken my disability in stride. They know that my cerebral palsy will sometimes require them to help me out or call ahead of time to ask critical questions about accessibility before going somewhere. To them, I’m never a burden or extra work or someone to be pitied. I am just a friend of theirs who has cerebral palsy. My friends are my chosen family, and I am blessed to have them all in my life.
To all of the people who have loved, cared for, and supported me these past 21 years: I want to say thank you for being a part of my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without every single one of you.