The Phone Call That Changed My Life Essay

Option #1: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
I'm not much of a writer.. any comments or help with grammar/content will be greatly appreciated! :)

It was the 3rd of April 2008.

After spending over 12 hours on the plane, we finally reached our destination, London, United Kingdom. It was a regular family trip; my family and I would spend every vacation traveling abroad, so often that discovering new cultures has become one of my passions.

Early morning of the day after as we were still in the hotel room, my dad received a phone call from home, a phone call that completely reshaped my perspective on life. It was a horrifying news that we received, my dad informed us that one of my uncle's family were murdered inside their house, and the corpses were left unattended for more than a week. The room was filled with complete silence, I remember feeling a steady wave of numbness storming through my body as if I was slowly becoming paralyzed. I've never visualized such occurrence happening in my life. For a second I wished it was all a joke, but it was one harsh reality I had to accept.

Upon our return, the incident was already published on to local newspapers and publicized on the national news. I later found out that the brutal murder was all done purposely due to investment conflicts and issues in their business. I had countless days of sleepless nights and several hours spent wondering about the uncertainty in life. The incident has opened my eyes to the fact that I live in such an unpredictable world; opportunities and experiences I receive may vanish any second. The death of my two younger cousins struck me the most, they were deprived of a chance in living life, and of a chance to experience the things I am attaining everyday. That thought struck me hard. I knew it was time to appreciate every opportunity I'm given, to value the experiences I've been through in my life, and recognize their importance to me. Life to me from then was about appreciation and being able to obtain happiness from what it provides me, because as the incident has shown, happiness could suddenly be poured down the drain.

I came out of this experience not with a clearer definition of the meaning of existence, but rather, with a greater understanding of life. I felt like I needed to make my life more useful, to fight for the lives of the family that were taken away inhumanely. The situation has made me become a stronger person emotionally. I've learnt to always remain optimistic in every misfortune events in life, because if it doesn't kill you, it will only make you stronger. I've learnt to find happiness in the small things that are presented to me in everyday life, allowing me to attempt everything I do with a positive attitude.

Word Count: 461


In 1983, at the age of two, I was adopted from an orphanage in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I grew up in the Boston area knowing almost nothing about my past. My adoptive parents couldn’t even tell me my actual birthday.

As a child I longed to find out more about where I came from. I often felt like I had not existed for the first two years of my life. As if I had just appeared in the orphanage one day, fully formed. I wouldn’t get the answers I was looking for until years later, when a mysterious phone call changed my life.

The Phone Call

One August night when I was sixteen my adoptive father received a phone call out of the blue. He wrote about the experience in my mother’s book Missing Mila, Finding Family: An International Adoption in the Shadow of the Salvadoran Civil War

The phone rang relatively late—after nine p.m., not the usual hour for solicitations, but that was what I thought it was. I did not even try to catch the name of the caller, nor the organization he rattled off, and I was about to end the call quickly with the usual, “No thank you, we’re not interested,” when the caller stopped me in mid-sentence and asked: “Are you Thomas de Witt, and did you adopt a little boy, Nelson Ward de Witt, in Tegucigalpa on May 30, 1983?”
Totally taken aback, all I could utter was, “Not exactly,” for the legal record would show the adoption had been finalized on the 21st of June, and we had re-adopted Nelson in Probate Court the following spring. But I was just stalling for time to recover from the immediate shock. I knew very well that Nelson had been released to our custody on May 30th, and we ourselves had always called it his adoption day.
How could some perfect stranger know this?

The stranger on the phone was Dr. Robert H. Kirschner who worked for Physicians for Human rights. He told my father that my birth family had been searching for me for 14 years. He explained I was not Honduran like we thought, and that I had been separated from my family during the Civil War in El Salvador.

Dr. Kirchner overnighted a case file explaining how I had been separated from my family. After my adoptive parents had a chance to catch their breath, they sat me and my younger brother down and explained what was going on. They said it was up to me if I wanted to meet my birth family, and they would support me whatever my decision was.

I took a blood test to confirm that the people searching for me were in fact my birth family. When the tests came back positive we decided to take a leap of faith and meet them.

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