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We gave him up to save his life

We gave him up to save his life
For five increasingly horrific years, the adoption agencies insisted that Chad Ostrowski's memory of a father in Korea was fantasy. When Anne Marie and John finally learned the truth about their beloved boy, they made the ultimate sacrifice.
By Peg Tyre
Published Feb 22, 1999

On August 11, 1989, a pale, anxious 8-year-old boy wearing a thin cotton T-shirt and shorts walked through the arrivals gate at Kennedy airport and into the arms of John and Anne Marie Ostrowski. They held balloons inscribed mom and dad in Korean, the only language their new son, whom they had already named Chad, understood. A shy, skinny boy with liquid brown eyes, his gleaming hair teeming with lice, Chad had no luggage, no toys to occupy him for the 24-hour journey.

"He didn't carry a teddy bear, a blanket, a stuffed animal, nothing," recalls Anne Marie, a slight, intense woman with the physical exuberance of an aerobics instructor. "Not even a jacket for a flight halfway around the world."

Chad had been placed with the Westchester couple by New Beginnings Family and Children's Services, a Mineola, Long Island, agency specializing in the adoption of foreign-born children. His birth mother was unmarried, New Beginnings had told the Ostrowskis, whose first son, John II, was 10 years old. Chad had no other family, they were told, and his mother, too poor to raise him, had abandoned him at an orphanage near the southern tip of Korea.

Chad, who was soon wearing spanking-new jeans and a black Members Only jacket -- the late-eighties uniform of every suburban kid -- immediately began to struggle with English. It wasn't long before he was able to make himself understood. But what he told his American parents in his halting English shocked the Ostrowskis and launched them on a painful journey that would stretch over a turbulent decade. Before it was over, their dream family would be in tatters. And Chad, their beautiful, bright child, would be on the brink of self-destruction.

"You say you are my family, but I already have a family," Chad told Anne Marie and John. "I have a father, brothers, and sisters back in Korea. Aunts and uncles, too. My father loves me, and I want to know what happened to him." ....

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