One of Their Children


Back in the days we used to play simple games, such as Indian make-believe or war of numbers.

As a plus, I had a lot of good friends in my childhood years.

The quality of the friendships a child has is especially definitive during their teenage years, and this is true irrespective of the fact that one is a biological child, adopted or fostered by foster parents...

I had a very good friend, and he happened to be at our place when he received the news of his father's death in a car accident. The news brought us even closer. Our friendship started during primary school in a small Belgian town, where we both lived. I was the only "narrow-eyed" there - that is to say, the only Korean in the entire school. I knew that my parents adopted me when I was five years old - back then many had been brought to Europe from Korean orphanages. I already had three siblings at my new home, who were the biological children of my parents.

One of my earliest memories is that I built a fire in my room on arrival, because I was cold... I don't recall my parents making a big deal out of it, because we always laugh about this early memory - I literally set my past on fire. My parents were never secretive about my past (it would have been impossible anyway), but they didn't talk too much about this either. To them it was very natural that I belong to them, they never felt they need to give explanations to anyone about this. This was really heart-warming, but so was the fact that whenever it came up, they spoke in a few words about it, it wasn't a taboo subject, but a sensation neither. To them this was the most natural story in the world, and to me the greatest gift.

Maybe one of the reasons why I didn't quiz them about this later on is that my older sister had become a "problem child" from the age of 12 - she tried drugs too - and caused a lot of trouble for my parents. So, I didn't want to add to that, not even with a question. I was happy to be loved and cared for by them.

My father worked a lot, we saw very little of him at home, and I had few conversations with him. He used to say that he works this hard for us to be able to spend every Summer a whole month in the South of France, at the seaside. This month with the family meant a lot to us, the financial sacrifice my parents made was not in vain.

My mother had a lot on her plate at home, she cooked well, but she didn't always have the energy to clean up. Because of this, for over a year, I woke up in secret after everybody went to bed and cleaned up the entire kitchen. This way my mother and I formed a secret bond.
My parent's motivation concerning me was in fact very simple: they wanted to give me a second chance in life. For this they did everything in their power.

But back to my friend, he reached out to me in primary school thanks to my story, saying that we should be friends, since he wants to know how Korean people are, because his family also wants to adopt a Korean boy. In the end my friend didn't get a new sibling, but he adopted a friend instead: me. As we grew, he talked a lot about God, about their church programs for children, because his father was a pastor. 

Although very rarely, my parents attended another church, so I never went to the children programs my friend invited me to, despite the many years we spent like this. He often said I was in his prayers, but I didn't quite understand why he prays for me, since I saw that he is more of a mischief-maker than I ever was. It's also interesting how I was often listening to him. And he could talk and tell stories endlessly. I sometimes think that the reason my verbal skills are not so good is, that during the years these skills develop, I was always listening to my friend. As a child he used to analyse his mischiefs, and dream about the future, as a teenager he talked continuously about girls, but after losing his father, he talked more and more about God. He used to bring Him up no matter the place or the discussion. He talked about Him in a way that I could feel how this was growing into a relationship, and not a religion.

When in high school, we used to walk to school, and this was not a half hour walk, during which he was talking to me. He could not persuade me to accompany him to any of the church gatherings until I was 18, but at that point, as Christmas was approaching, I went. At the youth service we were sitting in a circle, and everyone received a Bible quote, and they read it, and then said a few words about what it meant to them.
At that event I was anxiously ruminating on how there were too many new faces... and what's more, everyone was so well spoken, just like my friend. I was not good at that. I waved at my friend before my turn came, got up and went home. Nevertheless, I did feel God's love, because from that day on I accompanied my friend invited or uninvited. Although, I sat there in silence, I enjoyed being there.
Over time I understood the Gospel, and I sensed, that God is calling me too. This is how I became a missionary, and my friend a pastor. I joined the international youth mission organization Youth for Christ and moved to Romania. I've lived for more than 25 years in Arad, and at present I work with disadvantaged children, and organize events for the young near Sibiu. 

As an adult I also had to deal with my past. Where do I come from, who left me and why? I travelled to Korea and based on my papers I traced back the orphanage. All I found out there was, that I was left in the front of the institution when 18 months old, in good health, and well dressed. My mother took good care of me, but she ran out of possibilities for raising me.

This is all I know ever since, I couldn't find her, although I really wanted to. But I'm not distressed over this at all. Before adulthood I wasn't interested even this much, because I was raised in a family where I felt at home, I was one of my siblings, and this was perfect for me, I wasn't missing another dream scenario.

When someone died, it made me wonder whether my biological mother was still alive, but that was all. I almost never thought about my biological father. I was in want of nothing. Even today I only pray that they lack for nothing, especially spiritually, and I give thanks for the chance they gave me for life.

My message to the Mission for Orphans Foundation and every adoptive parent is that although their work is a long-term investment, it is one of the best ones in the world.

I want the adopted children to appreciate their second chance, even if they don't receive perfect parents or siblings, and what's more, they should work on becoming true friends to those who love and accept them as they are.

Merchie Myung Soo, interviewed by Budai Evódia