In 2018, I travelled to Turkey to find out more about my family history. I met my mother’s siblings and their families for the first time. I was curious about the place where my mother was born and to see what life she could have had if she wasn’t adopted by her aunt, who became her mother and my grandmother. It was a gesture of love between the two sisters as my grandmother was not able to have children of her own. I visited Girmeç, a small village in the countryside near Ankara, and saw the ruins of the house in which my mother was born and ceremoniously handed over as newborn.
Later, when my mother moved to Germany, the distance widened between her and her birth family. When she found out as a teenager that she was separated from her birth parents and siblings, the reality of her life changed. In recent years, I’ve realised how little I actually know about my mother’s past, what shaped her to be the person she is today and furthermore how I inherit this unknown past which is part of me, my identity. Bridging thee gaps and building my own understanding of the past involves tracing what was absent from it. To reveal this opens a space for new beginnings.
Arriving there, I felt like a stranger in a world that I would never be able to unveil or fully understand.
While, at the same time, everything felt so familiar, as if I had been there before.