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"We gave him up to save his life"


Eastern had sent Anne Marie a picture of Chad taken at the orphanage. A scowling Chad is holding an identity card bearing what the Ostrowskis were told was Chad's Korean name, Yong Seong Kang.

"He hated that picture," says Anne Marie. "He told me his name was Park, not Kang, but they made him hold that card anyway. The day that picture was taken, Chad said, they took away his real name, along with his father's business card and a prized denim jacket that his father had given him."

Anne Marie called the caseworker again. This time, word came back from Korea that the man Chad thought was his father was a married boyfriend of his mother. "He would struggle with these memories, trying to piece them together," Anne Marie remembers.

The Ostrowskis assured Chad that in time they would help him get the answers he needed. For now, they urged him to build emotional connections to his new brother, his schoolmates, his community. Slowly Chad's memories of his old life began to fade. But the fissures never completely closed. Although his grades were good, he had few friends, and in the nearly all-white environs, he was an outsider.

Eventually, he started acting like one. Some of his teachers wrote him off as a troublemaker. The Ostrowskis' idyllic life began to turn upside down. Anne Marie was on the telephone constantly from her office, mediating, soothing, trying to manage an increasingly chaotic household. Her parish priest suggested sending Chad to a local Catholic school, where classes were smaller. But while he did very well academically, he became increasingly disruptive. He would bully kids who were smaller and meeker. Other parents began to complain. Teachers caught him lying needlessly. After a few months, Chad was expelled. "It shook my faith," recalls Anne Marie. "I didn't know what to do. I was super-stressed at work. Weekends were a nightmare. Chad wasn't getting any better."

John II says it wasn't all bad. He remembers sprawling with his brother in the den, watching videos, sharing English-muffin pizzas and soda.

"At first when he got into fights, I defended him," says John II, now 20 years old and a student at suny New Paltz. "I'd tell my mother, 'Give him the benefit of the doubt. You don't know how rough other kids can be.' "

But Chad was soon expelled from another parochial school after joining a ring of runty robbers to steal money from the teachers' cabinet.

The family had moved to a bigger house in a more affluent neighborhood, and Chad entered eighth grade at John Jay Middle School, midway between Katonah and Lewisboro. Anne Marie knew they were running out of options. By then, she had quit her job at the bank and made Chad her full-time occupation.

"I became obsessed with him," she recalls. All the attention seemed to finally pay off. In early adolescence, Chad began to blossom. For the first time, he formed real friendships: Chad, Aaron, and Phil -- three boys from the same neighborhood -- became an inseparable trio. They caddied together at Waccabuc Country Club, watched videos, and just hung out at Phil's house and talked. As always, Chad excelled in academics, tackling test after test like a competitive sport. He also discovered music, playing guitar with a garage band, and developed a love of drawing. He usually signed his delicately rendered illustrations Yong Seong Park.

Yet the emotional thaw his parents prayed for never came. Chad was still unable to express love, even warmth, for his adoptive parents. "It was like I had these words in my head," he says of that time. "I knew what they were, but I could never, never say them. They just wouldn't come out."

Instead, he raged at the Ostrowskis, especially his father and brother, with an inchoate frustration. The handyman was frequently at the house, repairing a window sill or a door frame broken during a physical confrontation between Chad and his brother. Still, Anne Marie defended him.

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