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This is my college essay. I have been very hesitant to put it online but enjoy it, respect it, and learn from it. As I broke open the fortune cookie that I had received from my mother, I pulled out the little crinkly piece of white paper and read the small fine print, “God gives you one face but we make another.”

For many minutes I thought about the meaning of that very ambiguous statement. I went to the mirror and began to examine my face. I couldn’t help but to stare at the wrinkles upon my forehead, the few hairs protruding from my chin, and my drained and tired eyes.

As I delved deeper into the meaning of the quote and my face in the mirror, I reflected on my past and remembered the little boy long ago. Those eyes, my eyes, reminded me of a boy that once existed. I began to feel a tingling sensation flow through my arms and before I knew it tears were falling down my face.

All the pain I had once felt began to arise because of that small cookie, and I soon began to relive the memories of my unpleasant past. I saw an image of a little boy being lifted up out of an apartment and dragged down steps. He looked up at his aunt, the only mother he ever knew, who had promised every night that she wouldn’t let anything happen to him. She began to cry and closed the door. She not only closed the door to his home but to the life he once lived, the love and security he was so used to.

Almost simultaneously he started to scream and kick, but there was no use. He was dragged out the apartment building. The boy and his sister with all their belongings were taken to a foster home where their younger brother had already been placed. Many nights the three of them went to sleep hungry, begging for food but instead, listening to the menacing lullabies of their rumbling stomachs.

When they did get fed, their cereal was often filled with sour milk, and they were beaten if they did not eat fast enough. The boy and his sister began to fill up on water from the bathroom so they wouldn’t feel so hungry. Eventually the foster mom discovered what they were doing. She punished them for using the bathroom to often by locking them in their room with a bucket in the corner to use as a toilet.

What hurt the little boy so much wasn’t just that he didn’t have a real mother or that he had to watch his three year old sister try to use the bucket as a toilet, but that he felt powerless. For almost two years the boy stayed with his siblings in that dreadful house until his social worker found his foster mom drunk, and they were immediately and fortunately taken out of her “care.” I began to wipe my eyes relieved I finally understood the meaning of the fortune cookie.

For so long I had been looked at as a number, another foster child, another minority. That little boy I once was is very distant to me now because I have realized the tremendous potential I possess. I have taken my dismal past and used it as a steppingstone for my future. I serve on different youth boards and volunteer clubs so that I can give back to my community and help those who may have been as powerless as I once felt.

Most importantly I became an advocate for other foster kids, speaking out against the cruelties of the system and helping them change their lives for the better. As I stared once more at the wrinkled upon my forehead, the few hairs protruding from my chin, my eyes looking red and wet, a smile appeared.

God had given me the “face” of a helpless foster child but I made a new “face” of a positive young man excelling in school, advocating for foster children, and a catalyst for a better tomorrow. So again I looked at my face and smiled. It was still my God given face and one that showed the premature lines and wrinkles of a life of struggle.

But behind it lie the satisfaction of knowing I had been blessed with the strength, knowledge, persistence and the drive to accomplish my goals and dreams. Everything happens for a reason, and I see you With Unconditional LOVE

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Jun 9, 2011 By Speak-Easy92