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Adoptees Today

A high school graduate shares her college entrance essay.

Kindergarten students are cruel. Just down right vicious. However, in their defense, they most likely do not mean to be. They are just being brutally honest. I can personally attest to this. The memories of my own kindergarten days are still vivid — snack time, naptime, circle time and a kid named Bobby. We were gathering our belongings by the backpack cubbies. Bobby was shorter than me, with a lot of guts. As we were getting our backpacks, he looked up at me, pulling the corners of his eyes skinny to match my almond-shaped eyes. I felt weird; no one had ever made fun of me before. It was then that I realized I did not look like my peers. Yes, I did “know” I was different, but I did not know that my differences were “funny” to others. Bobby was just stating the obvious. He merely characterized the differences between my peers and I. Their eyes were not almond-shaped, their hair was not black, and their skin was not brown. I was an adopted member of society. And for this, I resented my heritage.

My biological Korean parents were engaged when I made a surprise appearance onto this earth. They gave me up for adoption right away, and I was adopted into a very southern, Caucasian family in Georgia at the age of four months. I have been raised only speaking the English language, yet treated differently because of my looks. I have never had any connection with Korea other than the ink on my birth certificate. I have sometimes wished I could fit in and be like all the other kids who matched their parents on annual Christmas cards. Why couldn’t I look on the outside the same way I felt on the inside?

Kindergarten kids not only ridicule physical attributes, but mental and social differences as well. My brother has autism and often appears socially inept. In school, he was “that kid” that everyone picked on. This enraged me. My brother has always had trouble making friends. Autism is a disorder that affects social interaction and communication skills. Other kids were harsh and unwilling to accept his differences. I despise the hardships my brother experienced. I still do not understand why people have to fit a social mold to be accepted.

The impact of being Asian in a Caucasian culture and having a brother with autism causes me to see life differently. I am keenly aware of students in my school who march to the beat of a different drummer. I have compassion for them and want to understand their view of life. In so doing, I not only learn about them, but I learn more about myself. By expanding my social circles, I expand my understanding of the world.

Because of my hardships and struggles respecting differences, I can confidently say that I have a passion for combating society’s ignorance. My life’s lessons have shown me that single-minded thinking and influence does not create a healthy world. I know what it means to be different and I know what it means to be misunderstood. I have learned to accept who I am instead of always looking to be something I am not. Because of this, I have learned to think differently and to view deeper into others instead of judging them based on surface appearances. Because of my life’s journey, I believe I am uniquely equipped to contribute to the diverse learning environment at the University of Texas.

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