I’ve always wanted a sister – an instant playmate, scapegoat, confidante, and best friend. And, at 30 years old, I just learned that I had a twin who died. Our birth father relayed the news via fax, translated by The Holt Adoption Agency: The birth mother of the above adoptee passed away after giving birth. The above adoptee was one of the twins; the first died. Maybe she wanted be with her mother, so she would not be alone. Our family of five (I later learned that I also had an older brother) was reduced to three in one single night. Eventually, that number dwindled to two as I was placed in an orphanage.
I, along with dozens of other South Korean infants, arrived at JFK Airport on a frigid December night in 1973. An agency escort carried me off the aircraft, a tiny bundle wrapped in a crocheted blanket, tufts of ebony hair peeking through the snow white material. The last to leave the plane, I had my own cheering section – aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends who swapped hugs and Kleenex. My mother recalls the night with such clarity, as if the event transpired days instead of decades ago: “I knew you were my baby the minute I saw you!”
“That’s because”, I jokingly reply, “You were the only couple left empty-handed!” That moment of instant recognition and unconditional love has transitioned into a bond that remains strong today.
This past month, I received a HERO OF THE MONTH submission that made me think back to my own childhood. Three-year-old Anastasia was born in China, adopted by an American family in Texas. Upon bringing her home, her (adopted) parents knew she had Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita – a rare congential disorder that is characterized by multiple joint contractures and can include muscle weakness and fibrosis.
They knew that Ana would require multiple surgeries to straighten out her feet, but were unprepared for the news that she would also face additional mobility challenges such as weak hips. Thanks to the staff at Hanover Rehabilitation Center, Ana has made significant improvements and has learned to walk with the aid of both long leg braces and a walker. She loves to swim and is gaining strength in her legs each week during her aquatic therapy sessions. According to the team at Hanover, she has handled every obstacle and challenge with ease and determination and her love of life and spunky spirit never slows down!
Though my blood family’s medical history is unknown, I – unlike Ana – came to the United States with a clean bill of health. I applaud Ana’s parents for opening up their hearts and homes to a little girl who not only craved, but desperately needed their love and support. We always hear about people who opt to take the “easy way out”, but Mr. and Mrs. “R” proved they are HEROES just as much as their young, brave daughter by putting the needs of a homeless child before their own. Bravo to Ana, her family and the staff at Hanover!