Have you ever had the chance to talk with an orphan - to ask what it feels like to be an orphan?
I've lived most of my life as an orphan and I've known many others, so I know what they would say. I lived in Korea until I was 22. Then God made it possible for me to join a family in the United States.
Most orphans would say that they want more than anything else to be rich and rise up in the world. So at least they could get away from being an orphan. Finding their birth parents is not that important to them though it may be a second choice. They know that their parents will never look for them.
Being an orphan is not the way you want to live. When I was growing up, an orphan was second class. Some people thought orphans were "no good." It was lonely, painful, fearful. I worried about starvation. And people take advantage of orphans.
After I got out of the orphanage, I was desperate. At the age of 17, I was completely by myself. I couldn't go back to the orphanage. But no one cared about me and what I was doing.
Luckily, I did have someone I could contact. When I was in the orphanage, I had a sponsor. I didn't know how to write to them, but I did have their address. Because I had left the orphanage, I was afraid that they wouldn't care anymore. But they were the only ones I could tell about my feelings.
I had a feeling that they loved me so that they would write back. They are a Christian family, and they'd sponsored me since I was little. If it wasn't for them, I don't think I could be here in the United States now.
To the orphan, sponsors are a big encouragement. Orphans care about their sponsors and they love them, like I did. If I didn't have a sponsor, my life could have been in a bad situation. But because of my sponsor, their encouragement and prayers and love, I worked hard to live the right way and did not give my life up. I still write to my former sponsor, and they still encourage me.
At the last Oregon Holt Heritage Camp, I shared my story. I cried and couldn't finish my speech, but I'd like other opportunities to share my experiences with young adoptees.
Every time I see kids who were adopted as young children, I feel that they were surely blessed. They didn't have to go through all of those hard experiences that I did.
Some adoptees are positive about being an adoptee, but some are not. They wish they'd never been adopted. But they don't know what it's like to grow up in an orphanage.
I know that some kids who are adopted when they are older have some problems, but they're sure happy about being in the United States.
I am very lucky because the Mayberry family brought me to the United States to be in their family. Now I can feel that I have enjoyed my life. But even still, I feel that something is missing. Of course, I am old enough now to be independent, and I should go out and look for my new life. I think I am jealous because I didn't have parents - the most important people in my life - when I was little. I always dreamed about getting all the attention and getting spoiled by loving parents. But now it's too late to dream about those things. I have grown up.
That's why I think that having a family is so very important to orphans. I went through childhood without parents, and I always felt that I had missed something important.
Now I really enjoy working at Holt because they help orphans to find families. Even though I came to my family as an older person, I think I am very fortunate - because I have a family. I am not by myself. I am a member of a family and that has helped me to appreciate even more that I am part of an eternal family - the family of God.
Julie Hwang Duvall
From Hi Families March/April, 1989
©1989 Holt International Children's Services