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Members of the Kleinhenz and Clark families enjoy their first family gathering.
Siblings (from left) Bruno Clark, Breonna Kleinhenz, Fiona Clark, Rebekah Kleinhenz and Victor Clark finally meet again after having been apart since 2005.
Photo by Carrie Pryor-Newman
Rebekah Kleinhenz, who will be a senior at Goose Creek Memorial High School, makes revisions on a college application essay that helped her decide to contact the biological siblings she had not seen in 13 years.
College Essay Helps Student Find Siblings
By: Susan Passmore
Writing a college application essay helped a Goose Creek Memorial High School student reconnect with her biological siblings. While working on her ApplyTexas essays, Rebekah Kleinhenz, who just finished her junior year, found that two of the topics caused her to reflect on her life and to think about the possibility of meeting up with her other family members, whom she had not seen since 2005.
“When I wrote about an imaginary meeting for one of the essays, I didn’t think I’d ever really get to meet them,” Rebekah said.
It wasn’t that she was unhappy. In fact, for the past 13 years, she and her biological sister Breonna have enjoyed life with adoptive parents Missy and Kevin Kleinhenz and a family that now includes eight children. But she and her biological siblings had not seen each other since their mother found she could not provide for them and placed them in foster care. Rebekah and Breonna were adopted together, and siblings Bruno, Fiona and Victor were adopted by Cindy and Dave Clark. Another brother, Ramon, passed away before the adoptions. Putting everything she had into these important essays caused Rebekah’s feelings about wanting to see them again to resurface, since they had not been together since she was four years old.
“For me, the thought of seeing my siblings again was emotional. I hated to ask my parents about my biological siblings when they had done all this for me. This is my family. I don’t like for people to ask me if I know my ‘real’ parents. I call them ‘birth’ parents. I live with my real parents,” said Rebekah.
Rebekah admitted that she had been holding on to a phone number she found on the back of a picture of her biological family taken before the adoptions, but she had been afraid to call, not knowing what the reaction would be from the other family. She was relieved when she told her mother, who called the number for her one day in May, and the Clarks were receptive to meeting at the Kleinhenz home that same week.
“At first it was awkward. You have a connection with them, but they’re really complete strangers,” Rebekah said. “After we talked for a while, I could feel the connection. This helped me know more about where I’m from, and it helps me remember my previous life. The fact that my parents were supportive made it way better than I thought it would ever be.”
Rebekah was pleased that the Clarks had flown her brother Victor in from Hawaii, where he attends college, for the gathering. Before long, the group seemed like one big happy family as biological siblings Bruno, Fiona and Victor Clark bonded with Rebekah and Breonna Kleinhenz. The celebration also included both sets of parents; a grandmother from each family; and Kleinhenz siblings Lauren and husband Huan (HB) Bui; Lindsay and husband Joey Bradford; Luke and Julia. Brothers Jonah and Levi weren’t there, but they will be included in future celebrations the two families are planning. Rebekah does not remember much about her biological father, and her biological mother died last year, but, fortunately, the Clark family lives in the Katy area, so she and Breonna will have the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with their other siblings.
Making time to visit with the Clark family might be difficult, but Rebekah plans to make it happen. Juggling a busy schedule, this active young lady plays soccer, is in the National Honor Society, participates in Instructional Practices in Education (formerly Ready, Set, Teach!), reads, spends time with family, and enjoys music. She attends Living Hope Church, where her father is the pastor. Rebekah also appreciates the support and encouragement she has from her AVID teacher Misty Dolgner, who has inspired her to pursue a teaching degree, and Roman Huizar, her soccer coach, who never gave up on her as she developed her soccer skills.
“Along with my parents, both of these teachers have had a huge impact on my life,” Rebekah said.
She hopes to play soccer in college or attend Texas A & M University to pursue a degree in elementary education.
“I think that it’s necessary at a young age to find learning important. I want to help people and encourage them, like my family encouraged me. Early on, my parents were by a doctor that I was learning disabled. Whether that was true or not, I am successful in school and I hope to help my future students excel.”
Hopefully, the college essays she wrote with such detail will help with Rebekah’s acceptance to college, but they have already done so much for her.
“They’re really like a diary-very personal, and they helped me not only to apply for college, but also to open up about this and find my siblings,” Rebekah said.
While she is excited about having some new family members in her life, Rebekah appreciates her parents and the loving, chaotic family life she shares as a Kleinhenz, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.
“My identity hasn’t changed – it’s still who I am now, but it finally feels like my family’s complete,” said Rebekah.
Consolidated Independent School District
4544 Interstate 10 East | Baytown, Texas 77521 | 281.420.4800
P.O. Box 30 | Baytown, Texas 77522 | 281.420.4800
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