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"We gave him up to save his life"


"We'd tell him if his behavior improved, we would work out a way for him to return," Anne Marie says. "He would try not to make mistakes, but it was almost like he couldn't help it."

But the "mistakes" grew more frequent and more serious. They worried that Chad was stealing money after he brought home an expensive guitar, valuable comic books, and stacks of CDs. He hot-wired a neighbor's boat and returned it to its slip with much of its equipment ruined. A few times he ended a violent family fight by running away.

"I always had these questions in my mind. My family was on the other side of the world. It brought me down," says Chad. "I didn't try to get in trouble. But somehow I needed to make myself feel better."

The Ostrowskis enrolled Chad at an exclusive boarding school in northern Connecticut. Just as they were drawing a sigh of relief, the school called. Chad had put his hand through a plate-glass window, cutting himself from wrist to elbow. By Halloween, he had run away and was expelled. They enrolled him in a public high school, but he was suspended after three days. The psychologist he was seeing then told Chad's parents their son was talking about suicide.

"I thought about it a lot," said Chad, with chilling calmness. "But I just couldn't bring myself to do it."

Chad would tell them -- often at the top of his voice -- that he needed his father in Korea. After one blistering fight, Chad slammed the door of his bedroom and shouted words at his parents they will always remember.

"You're not my parents," he screamed. "You wanted a son, and people were willing to sell me and you bought me." By this time, it seemed to the Ostrowskis that their decision to adopt Chad was all wrong. "We knew we had to do something. We had to fix this terrible thing," says John. "We didn't know if bringing him back to Korea would help, but we had so few options."

Almost ten years after they were united that day at JFK airport, the Ostrowskis told New Beginnings they wanted to take Chad home. The agency flatly rejected the suggestion. John hired a lawyer and began a series of negotiations to get Chad repatriated. After being contacted by the Ostrowskis' lawyer, New Beginnings came up with a distant relative of Chad's in Dallas and suggested they send their son there.

"In our opinion, returning him to Korea was too drastic a measure," said Sutfin.

"It was so frustrating. They didn't seem to get it. The point was not to send Chad away; the point was to give him back his father," John said.

In February, Chad got in a fight so bad his opponent's father threatened to press assault charges. Anne Marie no longer trusted him to be in the house alone. His grandmother refused to be alone with Chad after they'd had a screaming argument. To compound matters, he was smoking pot and drinking.

"I was afraid for my parents," says John II. "Afraid that he might hurt them."

Last April, Anne Marie, John, and Chad boarded a plane for Korea. Not even Chad's grandparents knew they were going. He left his books and sports jersey in his locker at school, and his beloved guitar at home in Westchester. Officials at Eastern were aware the Ostrowskis were coming to reunite Chad with his father but had promised them nothing. The Ostrowskis left a folder of documents with their congresswoman, Sue Kelly, and a lawyer in New York, in case they ran afoul of Korean immigration officials.

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