Confronting my greatest fear led to my best discovery!

by Sharinda Nathaliya, adopted from Sri Lanka to the Netherlands.

As a child

Last year has been a rollercoaster ride for me. Through it, I’ve come to learn to let go of unnecessary control by looking straight into the eyes of certain fears caused by trauma.

It was a burnout that brought me to a turning point of realization. I needed a different perspective to chance my life by looking at it from another different angle. A new chapter had started. I soon went to therapy that helped me break down the wall I built around myself which I didn’t know how to remove. It was an incredible journey to witness myself, first class at the front row. Finally, I am able to reach were I am heading!

I’d become enthusiastic by confronting whatever I fear. To be honest, I feared to search for my biological mother. She was searched for and found, 7 years ago by a man I didn’t trust. I went on with life in full effect. I felt scared on and off and years went by and I still didn’t reach out to her. I felt ashamed of myself. I felt and still feel guilty. I thought that maybe she would be angry at me, she would blame me that I searched but didn’t reached out. I doubted if she wanted to see me still, or the worst case scenario, that she would no longer be alive.

I had to step beyond my feelings and figure it out, whatever the outcome would be.

My mum and I on social media

On 27 April 2021 my Sri Lankan mother was found. We FaceTimed three times. I told her that I’m sorry I let her wait for so long and explained her what the reason was. She understood, she had a bad feeling about that man too. He treated her like she was less. The information he provided was false. She doesn’t have a mental illness. She’s not educated and that’s it. I don’t have an older half brother. I am the oldest and I have a younger brother by the same father. A father who’s ill and lives with my grandmother. I needed some time to get used to all this new information to switch it with the information from 7 years ago. My feeling was correct and my biological mother had the same feeling.

I recognized the feeling she gave me. She gave me the same feeling my beloved grandmother gave me. Before I saw her online, I dressed up. Did my hair and make up, carefully selecting which outfit to wear. My nerves went through the roof but she looked through it all and didn’t care about my looks. She saw me for being me, her daughter as human being. Something instantly changed in me. A weight felt off my shoulders, I felt at peace which I’ve never felt before. We just stared, laughed, waved hands and blew kisses to each other. Behind my laptop she is watching me on a phone screen. So surreal, so epic, so static!

Me today

If you’d told me 3 years ago that I would meet my biological mother on a digital screen, I would have laughed in your face. I never thought this would happen at all. That was the control, that was the blocked emotions, that was the fear. The pieces of the puzzle fell in place. I was shocked to see the similarities, the smile, the frown.

Days after the first meeting, I stared at myself in the mirror. It felt awkward but my self confidence began to rise. I no longer felt alone through finally seeing someone with the same features as mine.

I finally have the courage to go and meet her, to get to know her, with patience. To take time for these precious changes and chances in life. I want to make a documentary of my trip back to Sri Lanka. To meet her, take the time to know her, meet my father and grandmother. I also need to start the search for my younger brother who’s also adopted and can be anywhere on this world. I want to experience the island of Sri Lanka, the culture, nature, history and art — to do this together with my biological mother. In one year’s time, I want to figure out what Sri Lanka does for my identity and expand my own narrative of adoption.

I have many questions that I want to explore through my documentary. Am I able to connect with my biological family? What happens after? How do I develop a relationship when I have differences in language, culture, values?

For those who are open, I’ll provide all the information I gain during this journey to my fellow adoptees through my documentary. Why? Because it is the least I can do to help others who travel a similar path.

If you’re interested, you can read more about my documentary idea here.

Much Love
Sharinda Nathaliya

For more about Sharinda’s story, her recent Dutch article was published here and watch her self made video with english subtitles.

The Stolen Children of Cambodia

by Elizabeth Jacobs, born in Cambodia and adopted to the USA.

Elizabeth as an infant

I would like to share with you about my project in which I will be creating a documentary that will follow my first trip back to Cambodia since my adoption which occurred in year 2000. I am now twenty one years old and I am finding out who I really am as a person and what I want to make of myself. Before I continue to grow further into the adult I wish to be, I feel the need to come to terms with my past. After revisiting some documents and photos from my adoption, I discovered some inconsistencies that raise questions about my past. I’m hoping that by returning to Cambodia I might search for my original identity to better understand my life before it was Americanised.

At first, my plan for the documentary was to show the process of finding my Cambodian family roughly twenty one years later. My intent was to focus on a possible reunion with any biological family members I may have and to retrace the steps of my adoption, such as revisiting the orphanage from which I was relinquished and possibly visiting my foster mother and nanny. However, while investigating my adoption, I uncovered much more than what was previously known.

I feel emotionally ready and curious to learn about my adoption but in doing so, I’ve sifted through all of the documents and found some new information that leaves me questioning whether I have been stolen or not from my biological parents, perhaps not legally relinquished as I previously thought.

Not having any information about my biological family, I wonder whether or not I am a victim of Lauren Galindo, the infamous baby trafficker in Cambodia, and her network of recruiters. The Galindo scheme went as follows: a recruiter would befriend and garner the trust of impoverished parents by giving them small amounts of money and promising them that they would take their children to an orphanage where they would be well cared for while the family got back on their feet. Further they would assure the parents that their children, when grown up, would support them from America. That is how the process was played out in regard to many babies and small children whose parents were too impoverished to care for them. Instead of giving these children back to their parents, the liaison offered these children up for adoption mostly to American parents in return for “bogus adoption fees” in the amount of thousands of dollars. The fees were entirely made up by Galindo as the government did not require adoption fees.

My adoption was conducted just months after the adoption ban was put in place due to the Lauren Galindo child trafficking scandal. Galindo was charged with money laundering for which she was later incarcerated for 8 months and accused of setting up a baby/child trafficking ring where children were stolen from their loving families and sold for a profit.

Twenty one years later, I am now an adult ready to make my own choices and I want to visit my past and confront any unresolved issues that have remained hidden for so many years.

I feel this topic is important because it is about my past and how my life could have been drastically different if I had never been adopted. Now that I wonder if my adoption was part of a baby trafficking scandal in Cambodia, this documentary grew to being more than just a reunion with my home country. It has become a visual diary and real time investigation on the truth about my adoption. I am displaying my journey to the public so I can share this very important story of lost identity. There are hundreds of adoptees like me and I think it is important to spread awareness about this scandal because there might be others out there who believe they are legally adopted, when in actuality, they may have family in Cambodia who have wondered all these years where their child ended up.

My arrival

I feel this topic is important and highly relevant because Cambodia still has a ban on international adoptions due to the sheer amount of corruption within the adoption industry. Today, the Cambodian government is working little by little to lift the ban, however, because the country is so poor, it could be so easy for things to go back to how they were where unscrupulous people try again to take advantage of parents who need help with their children.

I have always grown up wanting to adopt from Cambodia, but I cannot do that with this ban in place. It saddens me to know there are genuine orphans in Cambodia waiting to be adopted but cannot because there are too many who would take advantage of their abandonment in exchange for a profit.

As this documentary is very personal to me, I know I will find it challenging and it will be a very emotional but impactful journey to capture. It is also a possibility that I do not find any information on my biological parents and I end up with even more questions than I started. The goal is therefore, to get as much clarity about my past as I can. The outcome is uncertain but this only adds to the suspense that this documentary will capture.

If you would like to support me in my quest to create this documentary, please visit my fundraiser website.

English
%%footer%%