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"We gave him up to save his life"


Today, Chad lives in a remote part of Korea. He is struggling to relearn the language and misses his American friends. Every morning, he takes a fifteen-minute bus ride to Chinju, a city of about 25,000. At school, he is expected to learn his lessons by rote, and his teachers aren't afraid to dole out slaps and punches to lazy students.

If Ki Joon drives the family one and a half hours to Pusan, Korea's second-largest city, they can gorge on Pizza Hut and Popeye's chicken. At home, the American food Chad cooks, like spaghetti and meatballs, baffles his family. He is taking guitar lessons and Tae Kwon Do. Recently, he has asked Anne Marie to send him a personal computer and a care package including grated Parmesan cheese, spices, and an Italian cookbook. He hopes to attend college in the U.S., but he is no longer Chad Ostrowski. To get a visa here, he will have to resolve his legal identity and probably will have to serve three years in the Korean military.

"If the Ostrowskis hadn't taken his passport, he could just swallow his pride and go to the airport and say, 'I'm Chad Ostrowski,' and get on the plane," says Tim Sutfin.

That, the Ostrowskis say, is exactly what they have come to expect from New Beginnings. "He's not Chad Ostrowski -- and he never was," Anne Marie insists (though the Ostrowskis themselves continue to call him Chad). "Forcing him to assume a false identity took us to hell and back." She wants her son to return to the U.S. as Yong Seong Park.

Chad seems bewildered by these problems, and he expects his mom in Westchester to somehow work them out for him. Despite the challenges of his new life, he says, for the first time the part of him that was unfinished feels complete. "I like spending time with my family," he says. "Especially my sister, who can tell me what life was like before I was taken away."

Anne Marie and John sit alone in their living room in Westchester, struggling with tears when the talk turns to their lost son. Anne Marie still has the shorts Chad wore the day he arrived, and just looking through the box containing his old primary-school drawings can ruin the day. She figures they spent more than $15,000 on travel costs, lawyers, and translators to reunite Chad with his father. And the bills haven't stopped coming. They send Ki Joon $500 a month to help with expenses. They spend almost $300 a month simply to hear Chad's voice over the telephone. They have been beseeching their elected officials to help their son get a passport so he can come back to the U.S. and attend college. They say they'll pay for that too. More than anything, they want to visit his Korean family again and talk. "I share a child with a Korean man," says Anne Marie, bewildered and amused. "I'm not married to him, and he speaks no English, but we share a child."

Tim Sutfin sympathizes with the Ostrowskis but insists there is little more New Beginnings or Eastern could have done. In 1995, he points out, the Korean government stopped the overseas adoption of older children.

In their darkest moments, Anne Marie and John remind each other of what Chad told them before driving off with Ki Joon to begin life with his rediscovered family.

"I know what you have done for me," the boy told his sobbing mother. "I know what it took for you to bring me here." Then he said the words that Anne Marie and John had walked through fire to hear: "I know that you love me. And I love you."


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