I’m not alone in this world.
I have not met my biological family for more than a decade. I was born into a family of ten children, and my parents were drug addicts.
They were incarcerated when I was just four years old, so the family was separated. A few of my siblings were adopted. I was sent instead to an orphanage because of my intellectual disability.
When I was in primary school, I was placed in foster care for about five
Growing up without a family has been terribly lonely, and difficult to come to terms with. I cannot help but blame and resent my parents for their deeds.
For many years, I felt alone and struggled to make friends, both in the orphanage and at school. Even now, at the age of 18, I am very quiet and lack the confidence to speak up.
About a year ago however, my life started to take a turn for the better. I got to know a social worker at the orphanage who took me under her wing. Her name is Sudthida Porncharoen. When I’m with Aunty Sudthida, I feel safe and cared for. I also get along well with her nephew, who is around my age. I now stay with them during the school holidays.
For the first time in years, I feel a sense of belonging. I feel that I have finally found a real family – a parent and sibling who genuinely care for me.
Through my school, I was also introduced to another ‘family’. Under Special Olympics Thailand, I train in table-tennis, bocce, football, and athletics. Over the past few years, I have represented Thailand in several regional Special Olympics competitions.
I am looking forward to stepping on the world stage for the very first time at the upcoming 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, to represent Thailand in the 7-a-side Unified Football event. This means that athletes with and without intellectual disabilities will be playing together on the same sporting field.
The orphanage has been in touch with my biological parents to inform them of my selection for the World Games, but I have refused to meet up with them as memories of my difficult childhood still torment me. It will take me some time before I can come to terms with my past – to forgive, forget, and move forward.
Being selected for the World Games has given me a confidence boost, and helped me believe that I am indeed good enough. Discovering my love of sports has given me focus and purpose, and I am now determined to work hard to achieve success and take home a medal for my country. My coach has commented that he has noticed a positive change in me – that I have become more confident, sociable and cheerful.
More importantly, it’s made me realise that I’m not alone in this world. I’ve found my roots in sports, and through the other relationships I’ve formed with Aunty Sudthida and her nephew. There is more than one type of family tree in the world.