A Sibling’s Perspective

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One of these kids got a 96% on her first college essay.  The other made it all possible.

Ages 14 & 17  

I met my sister Nadia through hosting in 2014. In 2018, at age 14, I was given a writing assignment and wrote the following paper. This is my story.


“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” This quote by David Platt is a perfect explanation of my family. My older sister is adopted, and it has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I truly believe that everybody should help needy people, not just orphans. I promise, it will change a person’s life forever.

We met my sister through a hosting program called Project 143, which is where orphans can come to visit America and stay with a loving family for several weeks. She was fourteen when she first visited us, and I was terrified. I quickly realized that was not necessary though. A week after she arrived, my parents told me that we were going to try to adopt her, and I was ecstatic. I already loved her, and I knew that no matter what, she would always be my sister. Two long years later, the adoption was finalized, but not without some struggles and disappointments. My sister actually said “no” to being adopted, but then changed her mind several months later. She is now out of an orphanage and with her forever family, and all of our lives have become so much better.

Adopting my sister has done so much more than just add a person to our house. It has completely changed me. I had been an only child for thirteen years before she came home, and had been homeschooled for the majority of my life. I had not experienced the harshness of the real world. But my sister had. She has been able to expose me to this harshness by arguing and making fun of me, as well as telling me about what she has lived through. Adopting her has better prepared me for the world outside of my sheltered bubble.

Ever since we met my sister, my eyes have really been opened to new perspectives. For example, I used to say things like, “Nobody does that,” or “That’s just what people do.” She would then always reply, “Do you know all the people in the world?” Like one day, we were making a gingerbread house, and she asked if we were going to eat it. I said, “No, people don’t eat them.”

“How do you know?” she asked.

“Because I just know. You don’t eat them.”

She then asked me, “Do you know all the people in the world?” It drove me crazy! But now we have an eight-year-old brother, and I find myself saying the exact same thing to him. It did not make sense when it was being said to me, but when I thought about it, I realized that it actually does make sense. My sister lived a completely different life than I had, and that gave her very different perspectives that she has been able to share with me. And these perspectives are very helpful in interacting with other people.

As part of the adoption, our entire family had to spend a month in my sister’s native country, and that really opened my eyes to new cultures. For example, they are so much more down-to-earth than Americans, and it can sometimes come across as rude. When I would look at my sister to see what she was doing, she would ask me, “What are you looking at?” I used to take it very personal, but now I understand that it is mainly just cultural differences.

I have also become a lot more trauma informed. So many people who come from hard places, such as orphanages, have trauma. It can come out in so many different ways, but none of those behaviors are these peoples’ faults. Now, whenever I meet somebody who is coming across as rude, or even just cold, I try to be gracious. I do not know what they are going through, and I have found that is good to keep that in mind.

No doubt, helping needy people like my sister has not only changed my life, but made it better.

After being an only child for thirteen years, having a sibling has been so amazing. I know that she will always be there for me, and I for her. She is my best friend, and I am so glad to not be an only child anymore.

In conclusion, adopting my sister has absolutely changed my life for the best. I cannot imagine what life would have been like if she had not come to live with us, and it has made me as a person, and my life, so much better. But adoption is not the only way to help needy people. If we look closely enough, we are all surrounded by people who need help. Help them. It truly will change a person’s life, as well as their perspective on life. As John Holmes once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”

Written by Natalie Mai

I am happy to share my perspective as a sibling of a host/adopted child. If you have any questions, please email me at natalie@p143.org.

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