How Adoption Has Shaped My Life

William will be attending Grand Canyon University in fall 2017, and he is one of three 2017 Holt Adoptee Scholarship recipients!

My name is William Quinn Samuel Kwan Crago. I have five names and five siblings. I was adopted from Seoul, South Korea when I was less than 6 months old. My mom, dad and sister traveled to Korea to meet me and bring me home. They say that I screamed on the plane until I fell asleep, and then woke up with a smile.

My older sister, Claire, watched over my every move. Claire was adopted from China when she was a year old. When she was 3, she begged our parents for a baby brother. She was clear, no sister, just a brother. When she asked for a baby sister, four years later, my parents adopted Emily from Korea. I remember being so proud to have a little sister to take care of.

She was funny and happy and always wanted to keep up with us. My parents taught me to be proud of my heritage. They were respectful of our birth countries and tried to keep us in touch with our cultures. They also kept us in touch with other adoptive families. My sisters and I thought that being adopted was just as normal as being a birth child.

William (far right) with his family. From left, Vincent (India), Claire (China), Emily (Korea), Shaelani (China), Libbi (China) and parents Jill and Ralph.

When I was 7, I asked for a brother. Not a baby one, but a bigger brother; one that I could play with. When I think of big surprises in my life, I think of my brother. He came from an orphanage in India, he was supposed to like to play soccer and cars. He was supposed to be fun and easygoing. Instead, he was very sick and very small. He had an NG tube for a year, and he had to wear a backpack with formula that was pumped into his stomach 14 hours a day. I was disappointed that he wasn’t the brother I had requested. But my family and I worked together to help him get better and to help him get stronger. Tutors and teachers helped to catch him up, and gradually his social skills improved. Today, he plays soccer really well. I like to think I had something to do with teaching him those soccer skills on the field and in our backyard.

In 2013, we brought home Shaelani, who was 4, from China. I had to bribe her with ice cream at first because she wasn’t too sure of me. She was the spoiled baby until mom and dad brought home my sister Libbi last year, also from China. While Shaelani is still the baby in the family, Libbi needed a lot of attention and time. Libbi came home at 13. She remembered her life in China and spoke no English. She was not so sure of us at all. She has had a lot of adjusting to do, but she sees her siblings, and I think it must give her comfort that she isn’t in this life alone. She’s been home over a year now, and seems to be fitting in and liking us much better. She had a really rough start in life and no one to love her until she was 10. I can’t imagine being 13 and starting all over in a new country with a bunch of people that you don’t know. She had to learn to trust us and she is still learning how to love our big family.

William stands behind his five siblings.

This is my story. It’s who I am. I have been raised to appreciate diversity and different cultures. My parents moved us to San Diego four years ago to give us the opportunity to be in a more diverse city. They have taught me to value being a Korean-born American. I value my background, and I value who I am now. I have learned that family stands together through challenges. My brother and my newest sister are living proof that if you don’t give up on a human being, they can overcome their obstacles. I am who I am because of my experiences and because I am adopted. My adoption and my family have shaped my pride in my heritage and that heritage helps to define me, William Quinn Samuel Kwan Crago.

William Crago | San Diego, CA

View Holt’s other two 2017 winning scholarship submissions here and here.

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