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‘Our family is cursed,’ screamed my mother-in-law when her daughter Sasmita was born*. Sasmita is darker than the rest of her family.

Her own daughter’s skin was so offensive to her that she thought the devil was playing tricks on the family.

Indian businesses and others in Asia have long sold ‘skin whitening creams’ or other methods essentially bleaching one’s skin, presumably making it ‘more attractive.”

In Bollywood’s A-list, both men and women are always light-skinned. The famous hawk skin lightening products nationwide. The number one cream is actually named ‘Fair & Lovely.’

Skin Color in Matrimonials

India’s newspapers usually have a personals section…


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Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Sir, I was born in the great land of India, but I left on June 15, 1980. I was adopted by a white family residing in the United States. I returned to India in 2001 with my family.

Then I interned with an Indian NGO in 2011, where I fell in love with a woman named Sasmita. Now we’re married.

I know you don’t count me as a ‘true Indian,’ because I’m not a Hindu, nor do I live in India. But I have Indian blood. I will always have affection for her.

In graduate school…


Reflecting on my privilege when I left in 2015.

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During the summer of 2015, I lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. I was there for three months. Now, I’m watching Afghanistan plunge into a yet unknown hell, as US troops leave in 2021. I thought about my ability to visit a war-torn country and then have the luxury to leave it.

I was in Kabul as a contractor for USAID, closing a nationwide community stabilization grants program. I lived in a secure compound near the airport called The Baron.

Danger abounded outside the Baron’s walls. I only left it on two separate occasions. Once to visit a vetted Afghan bazaar inside…


My family is those who raised me. Blood isn’t a factor.

person in medical scrubs holding a test tube with swab stick in white gloved hands
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I am adopted and my family history's blank, but I refuse to take a DNA test. I won’t buy one from any popular DIY firms. Nor will I pay for a professional genetics test.

Why? There are two reasons. I don’t trust companies dealing with DNA samples. And I’m not expending emotional energy for a family ‘search.’

On May 13, 2021, I attended a webinar called ‘Adoption, DNA Testing, and Genetics.’ It was hosted by the National Institutes of Health. My friend, an adoptee from South Korea moderated. The three panelists were also adopted.

The 62 attendees answered a simple…


man in front of a computer holding cup of coffee and smiling.
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I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, ‘Searching for a job, is a full-time job.’ But I think that mindset is nonsense. It sounds counter-intuitive, but finding other ways to spend your time, besides job searching makes you a better candidate.

The long-term hunt search saps your ability to think beyond yourself and your needs. But doing something that you enjoy, allows you to focus and stop feeding negative self-doubt.

One of the hardest elements about being unemployed is the constant search for ‘small wins.’ And they are elusive. But if you get involved in a passion project, you can find…


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Evangelical Christians supporting Trump while also advocating for transnational adoption make me ill. The two are incompatible.

In my experience, many white evangelicals are both proponents of international adoption and strong supporters of Trumpism. The data validates my personal experience. 80 percent of Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump in 2016. And more than 70 percent voted for him again in the 2020 elections. Evangelical Christians are the largest group of people who adopt internationally as well.

Many feel that they have a special calling from God to pursue foreign adoption. While others spend their time supporting it. The faithful…


I’ve said I am fine without knowing her. The truth is more complicated.

District Hospital, Kottayam, Kerala-Photo by Author

For much of my life, I pretended not to care about my biological mother. But that was insincere. I was too afraid of the emotions that would come from even acknowledging that I want to find her.

The truth is; I’d love to know anything about my biological family. But I’m unwilling to sacrifice the enormous amount of time, energy, and emotional labor that requires.

Thinking about the added drama knowing my past would bring into my life is intimidating. I view meeting my biological mother through…


A view of Indian traffic at night, with motorcycles and cars coming toward the viewer
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Near midnight on December 16, 2012, a crime with shocking savagery and scarcely believable brutality, soon to be known throughout India and the globe was discovered. It began with a passerby finding two partially-naked bodies in a ditch on the side of a highway.

The backdrop for the Netflix show Delhi Crime is the infamous ‘Nirbhaya’ gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman, formally known as Jyoti Singh, on a bus driving through Delhi’s streets.

But if you were thinking about watching it, let me be clear: the show emphasizes the hunt and apprehension of the six rapists, using…

A.J. Bryant

Indian adoptee from Kerala. I write about adoption, my intercultural marriage, and contemporary India. Prawns are my love language. @adoptedkeralite

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