Vietnamese Fate | Teen Ink

Vietnamese Fate MAG

October 15, 2018
By jtruppert SILVER, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
jtruppert SILVER, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I will never get to meet perhaps the most influential woman in my life. If not for her decision 17 years ago, I could still be living in the streets of Vietnam. The woman I am referring to is my birth mother. As a teenager, she made the conscious decision to give me up for adoption in hopes that I might be able to find opportunities she did not have – opportunities that do not exist in Vietnam. Every night I think about what my life could have been like. Would I be literate? Would I be working in a sweatshop? Would I become a parent as a teenager like my birth mom? Think about that. I am currently the same age my mother was when she gave me up for adoption. Her life could have been mine. Life in Vietnam starkly contrasts the fast-paced life I was being brought into; however, I was still the same timorous person at heart.


Throughout my early school years I was shy and had a hard time feeling confident. On my first day of second grade I sat secluded at my own table because I thought I was different from everyone else. Rarely was I confident enough to raise my hand to participate. Even though I was succeeding on paper, I was truly alone. My parents encouraged me to participate in baseball and I am grateful they did. The baseball diamond was the first place I felt like I fit in, and my teammates and I bonded over our competitive spirits. My childhood baseball friends became, and still are, my best friends. Yet even on the baseball field I compared myself to others and felt as if I was not good enough. While my teachers and friends attempted to address my reclusive nature, I never disclosed the basis of my troubles.


The root of my vulnerability can be traced to a phantom of my past – my birth father. I never questioned his intentions until I needed my Vietnamese birth certificate for a school project. What I found rocked my world. The father spot was blank. Initially, I was puzzled; however, with time I felt dejected and heartbroken that the man who helped create me did not care enough about me to leave his name on my birth certificate. For a while, I questioned others’ intentions and lost confidence in myself. At times, I felt as if my heart was shattered into a million pieces, but what I did not know was that happier times were ahead.


Throughout my trials and tribulations, I found comfort in my faith and family. My parents took a chance on me and brought me into their home willing to love and support me unconditionally. I am eternally appreciative for that. My most cherished memories are with my family. I remember when my mom taught me how to cook. I burned my hand touching the stove asking, “Is it hot yet?” 


I remember going to college basketball games with my dad and begging him to teach me how to play the next day. I remember sledding down the slopes with my little brother and sipping on hot chocolate afterward. I am proud to say that family is and will remain at the center of my life. What brings everything full circle is my faith. I have never felt closer to God then when I was sitting atop a dormant volcano in the Galapagos. I saw the expansive sea with waves billowing and the hills and valleys exactly as God created them. While gazing into nature in its purest form, I began to reflect on the series of unlikely events that created the foundation of who I am today. In that moment I realized that life has been handing me chance after chance, and it is my job to take and run with them. 

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