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My experience in Sweden

Filed in Blog, United Kingdom by on January 15, 2019
by Selma Z.

Over the weekend before the mad rush of exams, I went to Sweden. I wasn’t really there to visit any cities or go on any excursions. I went for one goal in mind, to meet my biological family for the first time. A little background about me. I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, right after the Bosnian War and immigrated to the United States when I was a baby. In 2003 I was placed in emergency care along with my sister, and I spent six years in the foster care system in St. Louis. Growing up I only thought I had family in St. Louis; my biological mom and dad. This past summer I received an emergency phone call from the police that my biological father passed away from a heart attack. It cam as a shock because I never really got to know my dad. I was adopted in 2009 and every year I thought I would reach out to him, but life got in the way.

It was when my cousin reached out to me after his passing that I was able to connect with some of my family. Now, jump to Christmas. I was sitting in my room looking at plane tickets for where to go for winter break and found a cheap flight for four days and let my cousin know I was coming. Before going I was super nervous and anxious about it. Not a lot of adopted kids get this opportunity, but fortunately for me, I have two incredible adoptive parents that have supported my curiosity to meet my birth family. I landed at Gothenburg airport around 11 p.m. Wednesday. I collected my bags and went through customs. Walking around the barrier I was immediately greeted by my other seven-year-old sister, my uncle and one of my cousins. A short drive later I would meet the rest of my family.

What was so significant about this weekend was hearing stories about my biological dad and my uncle when they were young men. I learned what it was like for them during the Bosnian War, that my father survived a concentration camp and my uncle had 32 bullets in him and survived fighting in the war. I met my Nena and Dedo, who hadn’t seen me since I was a baby in Sarajevo and greeted me with open arms. I think that what made this weekend so great was the fact that they didn’t make me choose between my adoptive family and my biological one; which can sometimes be the case for adoptive kids. They accepted them open arms as well. It was my Dedo that said in Bosnian, “Tell Clint (my dad) I view him as a son for taking such great care of you.” Him saying that made my heart soar, because the two people who mean the most to me are my mom and dad. The weekend was filled with lots of laughed, a few tears and loads and loads of Bosnian food. I think I gained 10 pounds just from eating my Nena’s cooking. So far, studying abroad, I think, has been my most life-changing experience.

Two people posing in skis at the top of a snow covered hill.

Skiing in Sweden with my cousins.

Two women smiling with a child in the middle in front of trees covered in lights.

Shopping day in BorĂ¥s, Sweden.


A family posing and smiling together in a room.

My Nena, Dedo, little sister and two cousins.


About the blogger

Selma Z. is studying abroad on the University of Manchester program in Manchester, United Kingdom.

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