STUTTGART, Germany — Awww. Poor adopted kids.

Four of them, from other countries and cultures, without parents, graduating from Patch High School.

“Some people,” said Flavius Garmacea, “feel bad for us.”

“My first week I was here, some kids were like, ‘How … are … you … doing?’” said James Ashie of Ghana. “Like I didn’t understand. I’m coming from a British school, and I was speaking better English than a lot of them.”

About 90 seniors will graduate from Patch High School, including the four adopted ones. They won’t have the letter “A” tattooed to their foreheads but blend in with the rest of the capped and gowned.

To set things straight, Ashie, Garmacea, Ana Mullinix and Alex Kloss have parents. Just ask them — ask them anything, even about being adopted.

“They’ll say, ‘I don’t want to upset you,’” Kloss said.

“It’s OK to ask about it,” added Mullinix.

Some kids do. What’s it like being adopted? Is your mom your real mom?

“Some people say she’s my fake mom,” Mullinix said.

They don’t mean harm by it, she added. They’re just not sure how to put it.

“Some people are really interested,” Mullinix said. “They might not have met anybody who was adopted.”

Kloss’ birth mother gave him up when he was a baby; Mullinix’s, too. They were adopted as toddlers. Both are from Romania, and neither is fixated on their Romanian roots.

“The people there look like us, I assume,” Kloss said.

Mullinix said she always knew she was adopted; nothing else was discussed. Kloss was told by his parents when he was 10. He said he didn’t know why they waited to tell him.

Garmacea and Ashie came into American life a little later. Ashie was adopted four years ago by his mother’s cousin, a U.S. Marine; two years ago Garmacea, who is from Romania, was placed in the care of a guardian, a Patch teacher who’d used the boy as an interpreter while visiting the country.

Both Garmacea and Ashie phone their birth mothers frequently. Garmacea’s lives in the western Romanian city of Arad; Ashie’s in the Ghana capital, Accra.

“She thinks it’s a great opportunity for me, so she doesn’t worry about it,” Ashie said.

Garmacea grew up in an orphanage and attended a school where he learned English. He said his birth mom is happy he is getting good grades and going to college. If he’d have stayed at the orphanage in Romania …

“If I was accepted into a university, I’d be doing that,” Garmacea said. “If not, I’d be going for work and looking for a house to live, being like an adult, basically.”

All four are looking toward college: Ashie to Northern Virginia Community College, Garmacea to Pittsburg State University in Kansas, Mullinix to Armstrong Atlantic State University in Georgia, and Kloss, after a year’s stay in Stuttgart, to Monterey Peninsula College in California.

They have dreams beyond college. Mullinix wants to work in media; Kloss will take classes in architecture and photography and go from there; Garmacea and Ashie plan to join the military.

They’ll have to wait and see if their dreams come true, just like non-adopted kids.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now