The brother I longed for

Alyssa Conner

Credit: DKS Editors

Now that I have shared some of my personal experiences of being adopted, it’s now time to shed some light on the day my brother arrived.

I can’t complain too much about growing up as an only child, but the older I got, the more I wanted to have a sibling. It didn’t really matter to me if I had a brother or sister or if he or she was older or younger. I only asked that he or she “looked like me.”

My parents originally wanted to adopt from Korea again, but my adoption agency has an age requirement that my dad did not meet. Therefore, the agency recommended adopting from Vietnam.

The adoption process takes one to two years. We were already six months into an adoption process when the boy’s family changed its mind. Of course, this put a barrier on my parents, but as a family, we did not let this stop us.

Right away my dad started searching the Internet for agencies in Ohio. He came across a picture of a little boy and girl. My parents contemplated for a while between the two, but after much deliberation they decided to settle with the little boy, whom we renamed Sean.

After two years of filing paperwork and waiting, my dad traveled to Vietnam with a group of other parents. They were there for two weeks going through customs.

My mom and I called my dad every night. I remember the first few nights hearing Sean cry because he wasn’t sure what was going on. I mean, who could blame him? He was only four years old. After a few days of spending time with my dad, he started warming up to him. I recall one night he was watching “Jurassic Park,” yelling in the background while running around in the room. My dad would put him on the phone and he would just giggle and go back to yelling at the television. Even though we had a nice telephone bill that month, every penny was worth it.

Before I knew it, the day came when my dad and brother were coming home. My family and I waited anxiously in the terminal. I asked probably every five minutes how much longer it would be until their plane landed.

When it finally did, my aunt gave me her camera to zoom in to try to find them in the crowd of people. I spotted my dad holding hands with a little boy wearing a hat and holding a blue Cookie Monster stuffed animal. I remember running up to him and hugging him, but then directing my attention right to Sean.

I picked up him and he instantly started screaming and crying. It wasn’t that he didn’t recognize me, because my dad would show Sean flash cards we made him with pictures of my mom and I labeled, “sister” and “mother.” He was just overwhelmed with all the excitement.

The first couple of days were rough because Sean wasn’t used to the time difference. I mean, traveling across the globe and staying in an unfamiliar place would already be frightening to anyone at his age. To help calm him down at night, we would play this Vietnamese cassette until he fell asleep.

We encountered other obstacles the first few months. For instance, he tended to hoard things because growing up in an orphanage with other children you had no choice but to share everything. He was especially bad with food, so whenever we went to the grocery store and he picked out a snack, my mom would get duplicates of it because he wouldn’t let anybody else have any of it. He didn’t understand you can go to the grocery store to get more. Another obstacle was the language barrier. It honestly wasn’t as bad as people may think. My mom and I labeled things around the house to help him, and in a year, he spoke English pretty well.

Sean is now 14 years old and in eighth grade. He gets straight A’s and loves to play video games. He also has a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and hopes to visit his birth country one day. Even though we are six years apart and are from two different countries, we share something very common, and that is our love and appreciation toward our parents.

Alyssa Conner is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected][email protected].