featured on the essential life
My name is Sonia Wilkie, I am 23 years old & this is my story. My story outlines my childhood & my life as an orphan as young child, to being adopted & moving to Australia to start my new life where I faced mental illness connected to my adoption & how I overcome my barriers.
The Beginning of My Journey
I was born on 10 October, 1993 in India. My Mother was 26 & single, alone & living in poverty. My Mother was having, what they call in India, an illegal relationship with my Father. This means she was having sexual relations with a man she was not married to, as in India that is very culturally looked down upon.
Once she conceived me she told my Father that she was pregnant, he immediately denied it & left her. She looked after me until I was about one, however she was single & living in poverty with me. It was not very safe living in India like that so she decided to give me to my Grandfather. He was also homeless but decided it would be safer for me to live with him.
My Grandfather was my Mother’s Father. So I lived with him out on the streets doing whatever we could do to survive. He would make me wear an eye patch to pretend that I was blind in one eye to be able to beg for more money. We would only eat when we could. Sleep wherever we could, he looked after me in every way possible. This was ongoing until I was three, when he passed away. The authorities then picked me up & put me into an orphanage.
When I went to the orphanage I weighed only 10kg, or 22lb. It was lucky I was even alive. I was very malnourished & sick & needed help walking as I could not walk stably by myself. I stayed in the orphanage until I was four when my Australian family came to adopt me. I then moved to Sydney to start my new life in Australia.
Moving to Australia
I had a great childhood with my adoptive family. I had an older sister who was also adopted, she is Indian too. We are not blood related but by adoption. I was a very happy healthy child when I moved to Australia. I had great relationship with my parents & with my sister. We were one big happy family.
It wasn’t until my teen years when our relationship changed.
I start changing without even realising. I started not talking to my family as much, locking myself in my room avoiding contact. My grades were dropping, I started skipping school. My parents tried desperately to talk to me & to get me to open up. For some reason I just froze when they tried to talk.
I myself didn’t even know what was wrong with me.
Anxiety & Depression
I was feeling down, depressed & anxious but I didn’t have the courage to open up about it. I started fighting with my family regularly & I just kept shutting them out. I wasn’t sociable anymore with my family or my friends. I started running away from home. My parents took me to the hospital where I was admitted into the mental ward where I stayed for one week. They found out I had anxiety & depression, I then started having regular counselling. However our relationship still suffered so a youth family worker got involved. Our relationship got so bad that the youth worker & my parents decided it was best to put me into a youth hostel to ease our tension & arguments.
How Anxiety & Depression Affected Our Family
I was 16 when I went to the youth hostel. From there, I started getting into bad habits, I started drinking & doing drugs. I went back to try & live with my family but the fighting started all again. So I went back to the hostel.
I was drinking using drugs. I dropped out of school. I was going nowhere in life.
When I was 17 & a half I went back to live with my family. Once again I was the bratty teenager & I got kicked out of home so my social worker put me into another youth hostel I got worse. I was meeting bad influences, being an off-the-rails teenager, I starting abusing drugs & came back to the hostel under the influence so I got kicked out of there.
I became homeless, couch surfing all the time, my life was just going down & I was feeling more depressed & I tried to kill myself a couple of times where with grace of God he saved me. I went on antidepressants.
Getting Help & Making a Change
I was 18 when my friend opened up to me & helped me get my life sorted a bit. She let me live with her, I got a job & now that I was an adult & a bit older I re-engaged in counselling & was more open.
I learnt that some of illness’s were all connected to my adoption. All that happened in my childhood traumatized me in the back of my mind. Being separated from my Mother to living with my Grandfather homeless, to him dying in front of me really traumatized me. Lots of psychologists told me that it is normal for an adoptee that has a similar childhood to me to have behavioural problems in teen years. Not that this was any excuse for my behaviour but it did play a part.
Finding my Identity
You see I always had a loss of identity.
- Who am I?
- Who are my parents?
- What do they look like?
- Will I ever see them again?
- Do I have brothers & sisters?
- Are my parents alive?
- What is my culture?
- What is my cultural music?
- What is my cultural food?
- What is my cultural dress?
The list goes on. I never felt like I fit in. I really didn’t know who I was & I still don’t & that was hurting me so much. So I went on a search for my parents. I didn’t find out much as they could not find my birth parents. I found out my Mother’s name & my Grandfather’s name but that was all.
When I was 19 I got pregnant & had a beautiful son named Xavier. He was really my turning point.
I stopped using drugs & focused on Xavier. I was a single mother but he changed my life completely. He was my only blood in Australia & that felt amazing. I hadn’t talked to my parents for a couple of years. I did a bit when I was pregnant but when Xavier was born my relationship with them was slowly re-building. I left my old life behind left my friends that were just bringing me down. I was using my medication regularly to maintain my depression. I started going to Mothers' groups & met lots of Mothers just like me. I met better & positive friends. I got a house got a job, I was stable. Xavier was God's gift to me & helped me turn my life around. He taught me love & how to love & that it wasn’t just about me anymore.
I am now happily married.
I started having a relationship with my husband in 2014. You could say it was love at first sight. He loved Xavier like his own & was great. We are currently going through new obstacles of life at the moment. My husband moved to Australia from Sri lanka in 2012 & started working here in a stable job. He loved his work & his work loved him. Australia is basically his home. He is well loved by his friends her in Australia.
In 2016 his visa ended so he had to depart Australia. I did not take that well I was very upset & couldn’t deal with being separated from him so I decided to come & be with him while he is sorting out his return to Australia.
His work in Australia have offered to sponsor him to come back & work for them again. We got married here in Sri lanka eight months ago & couldn’t be anymore happier. Being married really teaches me & opens my eyes to life. So we are sorting out his return to Australia. It is quite stressful as it is a long process & the matter of money is quite a big hurdle, but with faith we will overcome it. Just another obstacle of life we have to jump over. Coming to Sri lanka has been such a great experience. It is my first country to visit since coming to Australia. It has given me a different perspective of life & is such an eye opener to life. Please pray for us, as we sort out the obstacle of returning back to our home in Australia.
Life's Lessons & the Power of Family
Now that I am older I realised how unfairly I treated my family & wish I could go back in time & fix it. I took them for granted & was so ungrateful.
I've seen darkness & light. Now I can say to anyone that their is always someone suffering worse then you. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Every negative makes a positive. God gave you this life because you are strong enough. I hope to one day find my birth family even just an uncle or cousin something to fill my missing heart. I am slowly re-building my relationship with my family.
What uplifted my life? Great positive friends, my family even though I didn’t realise it until now, regular counselling & medication, my husband, my son & God.