An Experience to Never Forget
Edward Larson, Division 3, College senior #ws16e-s1d3

I remember kneeling on that three legged stool, looking down four stories below as the police took my father’s body away to the place where they throw away the dead. There is a reason I cannot say cemetery, because for those in Russia who merely get by, no one really knows where the bodies go. I was four years old when my father passed away from alcohol poisoning, and I remember the moment as if it happened this morning. I rolled out of my makeshift crib on to the floor, lacking the graceful landing that cats are so accustomed to. After pulling myself together and managing to work my way up to my feet I walked over to the bedside of my father. His eyes were wide open but his mouth was closed. I said “Wake up Papa, I’m hungry” but there was no response. I gave him a shove and repeated myself, this time with a slight sense of worry in my voice. I started shaking him and yelling, ‘Papa it’s not funny, please wake up!” Yet by that time the alcohol had done its evil deed and left me parentless; as my mother had left me at an early age and my father was left to take care of me alone.

 I was taken to an orphanage shortly after the passing of my father, but due to an age gap I was transferred to another orphanage. However after a month or so, the budgeting ran low and I was transferred again to a third orphanage. I lived here until one day my mom, who I had never seen in my life before, came to pick me up. I was confused but a small part of me was very happy to see her, after all she was my only remaining relative. This bonding experience lasted a total of one hour, as she dropped me off at the front of the apartment my father passed away in and drove out of my life. Then I was taken to my final orphanage where I would be adopted by loving parents. This is where the true story begins and what I would title as “The Best Experience of My Life So Far”. 

I had been in the orphanage for about two years when I first met my current parents. I was given little time to prepare for this new experience and at the same time I did not understand what was going on, after all I was only six years old. The day may parents came for the first time I was wearing a bright-green shirt, one that had a boy trying to catch a blue butterfly. I was wearing faded light blue shorts and pretty sure I had put them on backwards as I was filled with new profound awe and excitement about the coming process. Although I did not understand what was going on, I had a slight idea and all that mattered to me in the moment was I would finally be able to show off my puzzle finishing speed and ability to write out the whole Russian alphabet. All I could do at this point was wait with my friends in the orphanage and prepare for a new chapter in my life. 

My parents came early that morning and they had a translator. Since the translator did all the talking, I missed the part where she explained who these new people were and I assumed she was going to be my mom. The people next to her (my parents) drew my attention real quickly though, as they pulled out a couple plastic bags of blue balloons and began to fill them up. All the kids were so excited to play with the balloons because of a popular Russian cartoon at the time. There was a character who would often tie three balloons on his back and in the show was able to use magic or some kind of power to fly as the balloons would spin on his back like helicopter props. The balloons were certainly exciting but I could not wait to build a puzzle for my new parents to show off my speed (it was probably like a 10 piece puzzle). I went on to show them my skills in math, reading, and writing and we toured the area and played many more games. 

My parents would spend the following couple of weeks going to court and filling out proper documents to make share everything was all set up and ready for me to leave the country. I had a best friend in the orphanage who was named “Yulia” and she came running after the car the day we left the orphanage. My parents stopped got out and asked the caretakers if it would be possible to adopt her as well. However, she was still under the custody of her mother and could not leave at the time. They would end up going back a couple years later and adopting her as well. This is just one of the many reasons I am so thankful for this day and for the people who I now call my parents. This small insight into them being ready to open up their arms to another orphan just like that is something that makes me proud to be their son every day. 
I have gone my whole life knowing that I was adopted, knowing my history, and being fully aware of my circumstance through various conversations with my parents and from my memory. There are three main reasons that I would say this is the best experience of my life: 1) I was given a second chance to live a new life. 2) I was blessed with parents who have guided and shaped the path and the man I am today. 3) I am able to look back on where I have come from and use it to help make the world a better place. 

My first reason looks at the idea of getting a second chance. I was born into extreme poverty and a highly dysfunctional lifestyle due to a heartbreaking reality of Russia and its love affair with alcohol. I was able to witness first-hand how harsh of an impact this can have on a child’s life. Although, I was raised to live in fear being adopted flipped the script and I have been able to pursue an education, travel, embrace friends and family, and live a healthy lifestyle. I am about to graduate college and go on to Law School. I have traveled and been able to do service work in South Korea, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala. I have been able to form amazing lifelong friendships and have a familial network that provides and helps me sustain my extroverted and energetic personality. All made possible to the miracle of adoption.

My second reason is being blessed with fantastic parents who have gone out on the limb for me on numerous occasions and have always supported me in my endeavors. Both my parents have taught me that the community and those around you are far more important to look after than yourself. Being selfless is only a small portion of the many lessons they have bestowed upon me. I grew up without a mom for the first six years of my life and with a dad who was dealt a bad hand in the game of life, but my parents now have repaired any damage that was inside me from my childhood. Seeing the goodness in my parents now and with a strong faith background I have been able to say that I forgive my biological parents for the actions they made and am thankful my father attempted to provide some stability after my mom left. For if it was not for them, I would not be able to come into this world and be extremely lucky to be in the place I am now. 

My last reason is where I feel my experiences and attitude is taking me; the path that looks to make a better life for children who are in foster care, abusive living situations, orphans, etc. I am looking to continue my education to study the practice of family law. I have been granted the opportunity to take my past and instead of sulking and feeling sorry for myself, I can thank God and my parents for being adopted and look to make a change. I think my story can hope in being saved. I now have the chance to work on the side of the children and through the law. 

I have experienced many things in my life through travel, sports, education, work, and daily life but there really is no match that can compare my experience of being adopted and given this opportunity to take advantage of what life has offered me. I am extremely thankful and humbled to be where I am today and I hope my experience can help others. 
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