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Calcutta is My Mother: the Healing Journey of a Transracial Adoptee

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For decades — lifetimes, really — the adoption narrative has been woven primarily by people like me: adoptive parents. To adoptive parents and to society at large, adoption can seem like a win-win construct. Longing parents get a baby/child, and the baby/child gets a forever family. All win, no loss. But in recent years adoptee voices have joined together to also influence the adoption narrative. One of those voices belongs to Reshma McClintock, the subject of the documentary Calcutta is My Mother, creator of the website Dear Adoption, daughter, wife, and mother, and former Denver-area resident. Calcutta is My Mother is the latest contribution an adoptee-led effort to encourage people in general — those who have direct experience with adoption in some way, and those who don’t — to better understand of the complexities of adoption. For all those Hallmark-moment gains to take place, there first has to be tragic, devastating, irreparable loss. And a way to heal from it. Often, that loss is not seeable by the non-adopted. Reshma says in the film that it felt as though her life started in the PDX airport because that’s where the story started for her parents. But her body knew (see The Body Keeps Score by Bessell Van Der Kolk, M.D.). Reshma’s body has always known that something hugely impactful had happened to little baby Reshma prior to arriving at PDX. Decades later, Reshma still had a need to breathe into her lungs the hot stifling air of Calcutta. She had a need to touch with her hand the wall of the orphanage she left as a 3 month-old baby. She had a need to experience in her entire body a day in the life of a typical Calcutta-born woman. She had a need to sit amid the graves of the babies who didn’t survive their short time the orphanage. Hallmark movies don’t talk about such needs. They don’t highlight the loss that made the gain possible, necessary. But real stories like Calcutta is My Mother do. We non-adoptees are able to see how validating, affirming, and healing it can be to have the chance to gather one’s pieces and grieve what was lost. I encourage you to watch this film to better understand the complexities of adoption. The Spring Tour continues (currently scheduled for Seattle, Dallas, and Phoenix), and you can keep up with the film’s Facebook page to find out where and how you can see Calcutta is My Mother. In the meantime, watch the official trailer. And make it a point from now on to listen to adoptees.


adoption bookLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.
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