Over at Huffington Post, a teenage girl adopted from Cambodia at the age of eight has shared her story of love, loss and healing. Lea S.'s father abandoned her, her mother and her siblings. Soon after, her baby brother grew sick, and Lea's mother placed the boy for international adoption. After her mother's death, Lea lived with relatives, until her brother's adoptive parents unexpectedly found her and asked if she wanted to be adopted too. She did. Lea writes:
The first time I saw my new parents was in a hotel lobby. I told the translator that they had long noses. I didn’t know I was being rude; I just wasn’t used to seeing Caucasian people. I was really nervous around them. I think they were nervous too. I didn’t smile until we went to the hotel room and my new mom showed me the clothes she had brought me. My face lit up fast! We didn’t talk much because I didn’t know how to speak English, but she made flash cards with pictures to help us communicate.
The day we left Cambodia I was filled with emotions. I was eager, worried, upset, and confused because I didn’t know where we were going and I had never been on a plane before. All I remember about my trip was that I threw up for most of the 21-hour flight. It was like the plane was a gigantic sickening machine. It felt as though the trip would never end.
When we landed in the United States I was so happy. After we waited in a bunch of lines, we walked out of the airport. The air was a lot colder than in Cambodia. In the distance, I saw a strange man waving at us. He looked excited and happy. I also saw a little boy next to him. I knew immediately it was my brother. I didn’t act excited to see him because I was still feeling so sick from the plane, but I was really thrilled.
My new grandpa drove us to my new home. In the car I looked out the window and saw strange yet beautiful houses. I kept peeking at my brother. He was now three years old and looked so clean and healthy compared to the last time I had seen him. At that moment I knew that I was going to be happy again.
And that is where I am now. The nightmares have ended because of two wonderful people who adopted my brother Shane and me. Adjusting to life in the United States wasn’t easy, but getting adopted is the most beautiful feeling. Even though we are not related by blood, I knew from that first day that my dad and mom cared about me very much. They filled up all the holes in my heart.
Lea's story was originally published in the magazine Teen Ink.