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So Close, Yet So Far Away This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Have you everwondered what it would be like to live in a country other thanthe United States? We take for granted what we have, andhardly ever stop to think about others. We are fortunate tohave conveniences such as running water, hot showers, a heatedhome, and plenty of food; they seem so ordinary to us, but areluxuries for some. I learned these differences when I went tomy homeland, South Korea.

When I was four months old, Iwas adopted from Seoul, South Korea. My birth mother was only17; she was uneducated, unmarried and unfit to care for achild. The best solution was adoption. Ever since I canremember, my parents have told me I was adopted, but it'salways been obvious - I'm Korean, and my parents arenot.

In 1996, I went to South Korea with my adoptedmother. I realized how lucky I was and how fortunate my lifehas been. I live in a nice home, do many extra-curricularactivities and am very happy. My standard of living isconsiderably higher than the middle class of my homeland.Before I went, I couldn't even comprehend the culturaldifferences. I now know how laid back my lifeis.

Before going, the question "Do I want to findmy biological parents?" came up. Well, of course, and myparents completely supported my decision to try. The pressureof "What if I meet her?" built before the trip. Somany questions came to mind: why was I given up; did they loveme; do I have any siblings; does she think about me; what willI say if I meet her? I also wondered about other kids in mysituation and how their outcomes differed from mine. When wefinally talked to the adoption agents in Seoul, I wasdisappointed to discover I wouldn't be able to find my parentsafter all because they didn't want me to. I thought, Why wouldanyone not want to reunite a child with his or her parents?This perplexing question is one that will never beanswered.

Even though I couldn't meet them, I stillwent to my hometown, a small fishing village on the coast ofthe Yellow Sea. Just looking at the village from a distanceshocked me. Most of the buildings were shacks and it lookedand smelt very dirty. My mind came alive with ifs, ands andbuts. What if my birth parents are living right in thatbuilding there, or that one? I'd come so far, and what if Inever have the chance to come back? I felt helpless and angry,as if I were a baby being teased with candy who finally gotit, but then someone took it away and laughed.

The tripto my homeland was very educational in many ways. On the planeride back I thought about how lucky I am to have parents wholove me so dearly. I learned that you have to play the handyou're dealt, and play it with a good attitude, even if youdon't like it at times. We take for granted everything we havehere in the U.S. Society places too much emphasis on theclothes you wear or the car you drive. I was very humbled tofind that when you don't have much, you just make the most ofit. The people of South Korea live so simply, yet they workand go to school just as we do. Something was different aboutthem, though. They realize they have enough and are satisfied,whereas we always seem to want more or something different. Adifferent home, school, clothes ... sometimes evenparents.

We need to be grateful for everything we have,especially our parents. I still wonder what my life would havebeen like if I hadn't been adopted. Now, I realize thatadoption was the best choice for all of us. The positivesoutweigh the negatives in my case.

I feel so fulfilledknowing I have two sets of parents who love me dearly and whowould probably do anything for me. The culture shock Iexperienced in Korea is something I will never forget.






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By Lindsey S., Duxbury, MA
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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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