Karachi Kid: A Family Journey

© Kashif Jamal Javaid

Kashif Javaid traveled to Karachi, Pakistan to document the experiences of children, healthcare workers, and families involved in the adoption process in Pakistan

I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, the son of a freelance artist and a compassionate mother. Some of my fondest memories are playing unsupervised with my friends in the streets and on the rooftops. The city was ours, at least in our minds, it belonged to us.

Fast forward to now and I am living in Fairfax, Va., married to Faiza, my first love, my childhood friend. We became parents in 2006 through adoption and the process changed us, made us humble human beings, as well as curious about our son’s biological parents.

For more than a decade, photography has enabled me to express myself. At times, the camera allows me to escape and play unsupervised like the kid once did in Karachi. I am compelled to tell stories that are personal and are kept tucked away due to societal pressure and a vigilant and convulsive culture. Using my photography to explore our family story in this project was a decision that Faiza and I made together.

In August, I went back to Karachi, Pakistan to spend time with kids at orphanages and on the street. I wanted to know what makes women put their kids up for adoption. What are the reasons behind this painful decision of giving away a piece of their heart and body? What is it that prevents a mother from being a mother? What happens to older kids who don’t get adopted? Why does infanticide occur and why is it overlooked? Is it poverty, illiteracy, male dominance, religion or culture that demands this sacrifice from mothers in a society? And what happens to the sacrificed abandoned kids?

The photo project “Karachi Kid” expresses my family’s gratitude towards the miracle of adoption.

Karachi Kid: Discussion & Exhibit

When: 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 23

Where: Johns Hopkins SAIS, Rome Auditorium, 1619 Massachusetts Ave. NW, DC

Cost: Free

Photographer Kashif Javaid will present his work and discuss the project’s focus. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with the audience and a small reception where guests can view some of Javaid’s work.

All images © Kashif  Jamal Javaid. You can see more of his work on his website.

A letter to “The Mother” by Faiza Javaid

Today, after a lot of thinking and gathering the courage, I am writing this letter to “The Mother” I will always be grateful to. Today, we all are celebrating international Mother’s Day and I want to write a Thank You letter to the mother who made me a mother. Yes, this letter is to the biological mother of my son. He is turning 13 soon and I am so thankful to the mother I know nothing about but still feel so close to. Every year around my son’s birthday I pray for her, for her health and mental peace. I want you to know your sacrifice was not wasted. Our son is the most precious person in his parent’s lives. Without any doubt believe me that part of your body is now a part of my soul. I didn’t carry him for nine months in my tummy but I did carry him in my heart way before he came into our lives. He was in my my heart when I went through laparoscopies in hope of getting cyst free so I can conceive him, he was in my heart when I went through laparotomy in hope of getting pregnant right away. He was in my heart when I went through three unsuccessful IVF cycles and every time my husband will give me a shot in my tummy with trembling hands. He was in my heart the first time I heard the word “infertility” and I knew I will become a mother one day. He was in my heart when my husband was trying to convince me to adopt and as a mother I was already protecting him thinking what if others do not accept him and it took me two years to realize that no matter what the world will think he will be “mine”.

I have no idea about what you went through all this time. I don’t even know if you are aware that you gave birth to a very beautiful child – our son. Sometimes I wonder about his facial expressions if he resembles you in anyway or if he acts in a certain way that he inherited from you. Trust me I am so grateful of you and all I want you to know how much he is loved, not just by his parents but everyone around him, his grandparents from both sides, his uncles and aunts, his cousins, his niece and nephews. Our son is exactly the child I always dreamt of – A BOY, one mischievous boy full of naughtiness but also caring, kind and generous. He loves me a lot but I love him more. Sometimes when he is sad I wonder if he is thinking about you. Yes, he knows that you gave him birth, you kept him in your tummy and I kept him in my heart. I totally understand and respect if he thinks about you. He is A part of you and this makes me realize that how beautiful it is to share this bond with you. It is so difficult for a mother to share her son with anyone, even sometimes it is hard to share the child with the father. Yes I do feel left out when my son plays with his father and our whole house gets so loud with their screams while playing tickle bugs (a tickling game they invented). But I am willing to share him with you for the rest of my life as I know I am a mother because of you and there is no way I can take away your motherhood and your relationship with our son.

Happy Mother’s Day 😘

Always your grateful!