The following blog series will be dedicated to our Searching in Intercountry Adoption series. These individual stories are being shared from our Perspective Paper that was also shared with our Webinar, Searching in Intercountry Adoption by Adoptee Experts.
by Gabbie Beckley, born in Sri Lanka, raised in Australia
When I cook, standing in my kitchen, surrounded by the scents and smells of Sri Lankan spices, curries and dhals, I am transported back to one of my first memories of meeting my Amma in her small smokey kitchen back in the year 2000. I then fast forward to 2019, sitting in my younger sisters apartment watching her cook, being entranced by the smells, laughter and life coming from her kitchen in her home.
My life has taken so many unexpected twists and turns. I reflect upon the different versions of myself through my search and reunion with my family. I reflect at the past global climate when Sri Lanka was in the grips of a bloody civil war war and what life is like now amidst the current political instability.
I think of choices parents make for their children and the hopes and dreams we have for them. I know we all share a common thread, we want our children to be happy, healthy and content with life. I know that is what my Amma and Thatha want(ed) for me and my siblings and I know that is what I want for my children.
Yet the complex psychosocial strings that took me away from my first family and weaved a complex narrative in my second, continues to undo and reconnect as I attempt to parent my own and leaves me feeling some days like I have an understanding of what’s going on, yet most days, I struggle to make sense of it all.
My story is mine to tell, yet I am only one part of a multitude of layers, stories and connections. To tell my story is to honour my first family’s story. Our story is a love story of two people shaped by an extreme set of extraordinary circumstances that include war, love, poverty and hope. Then my second family who also experienced war, love, loss, trauma and hope; and finally the family that I have created, also has love, loss, hope and possibilities.
The way that I comprehend searching for my family is it has always been about finding out who I am, recognising the person staring back at me in the mirror and understanding who I am as a person and how I relate to the world.
Searching for me is coming to understand it doesn’t stop when you have the answer to your prayers, it’s then understanding and building relationships with the people who share your bloodlines and those that don’t. It’s accepting the choices that people made ‘in your best interests’ and placing those choices with the people that made them and not on myself.
Searching over the past 23 years has been important, life affirming and life saving. I have now know my first family longer than I haven’t known them — and for me that’s important milestone because it helps me understand the complex person within.
I know the trauma of that first great loss in my life has impacted my whole life. I want to bust the myth that love it s enough to conquer the hurt, pain and the trauma — it is not.
Connection, meaningful connections and conversations, intentional understanding, acceptance, trauma informed care and a safe space to feel my feelings is what I have needed. Finding purpose and meaning in my life has come from reuniting with my family, culture and kin. I know what it is like to walk the walk and I know why it’s important to give back and assist others in their journey of healing.
Searching has never been the end goal, searching is part of the healing journey I take every day.
Coming Next: Searching for my family in Russia