Karis is a 16-year-old living in Middle Earth most of the time. She wishes that she were born 10000 years in the future (or however long it takes to reach the pinnacle of human civilization). She can normally be found between the pages of a book or in the kitchen.
NOTE: The names of all the people mentioned in this article have been changed to protect their privacy.
My friend’s name is Anna Choi.
She’s one of my best friends. She’s a citizen of the Republic of Korea, but has been living here since she was 18 months old. She celebrated her 18th birthday on April 5th amongst her close friends and her boyfriend. She has two parents and a little brother. Her mother is studying to become a nurse, while her father supports the family. She’s pretty much a straight B student with a couple Cs interspersed, but that matters little as she has just completed her last year of high school and got accepted into one of her first choice colleges.
Sound’s pretty normal, right?
Her maternal grandparents in Korea have accumulated millions in debt due to her grandfather having lost all his money to a young bimbo who ran away with it. Her maternal grandmother is dying of cancer right now.
Her mother and father had recently gotten a divorce following her birthday due to information coming out about her father having an affair with a woman from his church for over a year. The mistress is a rich millionaire and operates her own private tailoring company. The divorce happened within a month and her mother was left with only $20,000, enough to live for 6 months in the DC Metropolitan area.
Her mother can no longer afford nursing school and is forced to work a menial day-job at a Korean grocery market. Her mother is also burdened with the debt of her own parents in Korea, according to Korean debt inheritance laws. She’s expected to pay back millions of dollars with a job at grocery store.
Sound’s pretty horrible, right? Well, it gets worse.
The outing of the affair was no accident. It was a carefully planned event coinciding with Anna’s birthday. Once Anna turned 18 her parents are no longer responsible for her as she is now a ‘legal’ adult. Her mother can’t take her in, as she can’t afford to. So that left Anna with her adulterer father who had abused her and hit her for her entire life.
At the new apartment the mistress has rented for her father, she is left alone four days out of the week. She can’t drive, because her father didn’t allow her to get her license, much less learner’s permit. She can’t work due to her visa status; she has no work permit. Her father refuses to pay for her college despite a clause in the divorce papers stating that he must pay for her education and house her until she is 21. She can’t sue because she has no money. (And even if she could, according to the mistress, “the richer person always wins.”)
The mistress is the embodiment of fairytale evil stepmothers; rich, obsessed with makeup and youth, and mean. It was the mistress’s idea to wait one year for her and Anna’s father to get married, so that they are able to cut her out of Green Card naturalization when her father marries that woman. It was the mistress who coldly suggested that Anna should go “work the streets, if you can’t find a proper job. Go stand on a corner and sell your body.” It was the mistress who coldly said that she was kicking Anna out of the apartment in 6 months, even though her work permit doesn’t come in for another 7-8 months.
Sound’s terrible; imagine living it.
This is the true story about one of my closest friends. This is what she is living right now.
Her life sounds like a story and like a story, full of archetypical characters. There’s the evil stepmother, the money-grubbing miserly father, the cowardly mother, the naïve brother, and the victimized girl. It all just sounds so impossible, but the thing I have the most trouble swallowing is her biological parents’ total lack of care and maternal/paternal feelings towards her.
Her mother doesn’t want her because she’s more concerned with her own future. I can completely understand that. Self-preservation is one of the most vital instincts a person can have. But her mother refuses to let her visit her new apartment, refuses to tell Anna where she now lives, refuses to see them unless there are pre-scheduled.
Her father is so blinded by money and greed that he has effectively disowned his own daughter. But her father didn’t care for her much anyways. He had beaten her and abused her for her entire life. When she was nine years old, he had once locked her in the garage for the entire weekend with nothing but water. Her father doesn’t even consider her family anymore.
I was at their apartment when Andrew, her brother, came into Anna’s room and excitedly announced, “We’re all going to China Star (a restaurant) together!”
The father then said “Not Anna.”
Andrew looked confused and said “But you said it was the whole family.”
The father responded “Anna’s not coming.”
Anna responded “Andrew, family means you, that man,” she points to her father, “the woman and her daughter. Not me.”
The completely blasé attitude of both her parents infuriates me. Family is always supposed to be there. But they are not. Anna is not alone however; she has her network of close friends who stand by her and support her.
Anna’s case of neglect and abuse makes me ponder who else is stuck in a similar predicament—a situation where one is unable to do anything legally due to surreptitious scheming. It also makes me wonder what sort of impetus was it that caused her parents to effectively abandon her. A survival instinct? Money blindness?
I thought that family was supposed to come first.