All It Took Was A Smile This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     “People are like stained-glasswindows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when thedarkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a lightfrom within.”

- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross,psychiatrist

It was 2001 and I had just learned some very bignews: My family was going to adopt a baby. I wasn’t quite surewhy, though, since there already were three kids in my family. Why wouldmy parents want another child?

My mom found out aboutinternational adoptions from a woman at work who was adopting a babygirl from China. I guess my mom thought this was cool because in no timeour family was doing the same thing. I hated my mom for this. Ican’t explain it, but I didn’t want to have someone in myfamily who wasn’t really part of it. But, it was decided, and Iwas going to have a Chinese sister. I did have some time to think aboutit, since we wouldn’t be getting her for at least a year. Thankgoodness!

It actually was a year and a half before we werenotified that my mom and her friend could go to China. We received apicture of my new sister and I thought she was very strange looking. Shehad a large head and huge eyes that looked crossed. I told my mom thatthis baby wasn’t the one we wanted. She ignored my reaction andtold the agency we wanted the baby, known as Qin Li Chun. My mom decidedto change her name to Kara Qin Li Hudak.

And so my mom left forChina on December 12, 2002. My whole family and even some of my extendedfamily took her to the airport to wish her a safe trip. I pleaded andpleaded with my dad to let me stay home and he finally gave in. Everyoneknew I didn’t want this baby. I had constantly bashed the subjectand told them that I wouldn’t like her, and it was stupid that wewere doing this. My mom didn’t take this well. I knew she wished Iwas excited like everyone else. She could only wish though, becausethere was no way I would ever change my mind.

I love my mom andall, but it was nice when she was gone because my dad was much morelenient. The one time my mom did call, I could hear Kara screaming inthe background. I told my mom if that’s what she was bringinghome, things wouldn’t be pretty. I really believed this whole ideahad been a mistake from the beginning.

My mom came home the dayafter Christmas. This time I did tag along to the airport. I was excitedto see Mom, but not to meet my new 10-month-old sister. When I saw Mom,I hugged her but could tell by the way she was acting that Kara was“her” baby, and that was all she cared about. I felt likeMom didn’t have enough time to split between three kids, so howcould she ever do it with four? I knew right away that Kara would getall the attention and despised her from the moment I sawher.

Kara didn’t say a peep that first half hour, which wasthe only time that girl has ever been quiet. The moment we put her inthe car seat, she screamed, and I mean screamed. I’ve never heardanything so piercing. I put my hood up and tried to think of a happyplace and life before this terror arrived.

Things went downhillfrom there. Kara was the most annoying creature on the planet. She wasalways crying and whining about something. Coming from China, she wasnot used to English and it was difficult to get through to her. I hadabsolutely nothing to do with her. I wouldn’t play with her orhold her. If my mom needed help, I would try to get out of it. My momwas disappointed that I was acting this way and not accepting my newsister.

Nobody cared about Alison, Nicole or Bailey anymore. Itwas Kara this and Kara that. One day, I couldn’t take it anymoreand so I sat in my room and just cried and prayed that life would getbetter and Kara would go away, and I could have my family back the wayit was before. My prayers were answered, but not in the way Iexpected.

That summer I was home a lot, so I saw my family prettyregularly. One day, as I was sitting in the living room, Kara walked in.I was about to get up and leave when she ran into my legs and looked upat me with the biggest smile, as though telling me she loved me.Something hit me and I felt like a changed person. She didn’t sayit, but I knew she meant it. That little smile changed my attitude abouther. I started becoming her sister, and I loved her. I’ll neverknow exactly how it happened. I guess God works in funny ways. Karadidn’t change. It was me, and I decided I needed to be the personI was expected to be.

I started realizing that Kara is blessed tohave us adopt her, and that we, too, are blessed by her presence. If itweren’t for my mom, Kara might still be in an orphanage with nofamily. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this. I wasconvinced my mom was wrong, and I couldn’t open my eyes and seethat she was trying to help an innocent child who didn’t deserveto be alone.

I had criticized my mom for doing this“stupid” thing time and time again. Now someday I would liketo adopt a child. You never feel the same after you’ve saved alife, and provided them with a loving family who care about them. Karais fortunate that she has a home, but I am even luckier to have a sisteras special as she is to open my eyes and realize that everyone needssomeone to love them, the way that I’ve learned to love her.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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