On August 24, 1988, my husband Dave was born in Jeonju, South Korea to an unwed mother. Since raising a child alone was nearly impossible in Korea at that time, he was put up for adoption. He was immediately sent to an orphanage in Seoul, where he spent a few weeks before being placed with a foster family for a few months.
On December 27th, 1988 he was welcomed into his loving adoptive family here in Pittsburgh, PA.
Dave had a typical childhood but always longed for a sense of belonging. He tried piano lessons because he heard his birth Mom was a piano teacher and his adoptive mom took him and his brother (who was also adopted) to Korean culture activities.
He always wondered who his birth parents were but figured that finding them would be next to impossible.
About ten months ago, he discovered a Facebook group for Korean Adoptees and decided to join. In the group, he met tons of adoptees with stories similar to his. He also learned that there were free DNA kits available to adoptees in hopes of matching them with their birth family. Dave took a test and his closest relative was a third cousin who was also adopted. He felt defeated but decided to not give up yet.
His adoptive mom has been super supportive and provided him with every document regarding his adoption that she had been given. Then Dave contacted the social service agency that placed him in his foster home. They said they would do a formal birth family search and asked him to write a letter to his mom and include some photos since it could encourage contact if they found her.
He knew it was unlikely that he would find his birth parents but he still wanted to try. He repeatedly said that he’d even be thrilled with a photo.
At about 5 am on October 16th, Dave woke me up to tell me that they located his parents!
Not only had they located them but they actually got married several of years after he was born and he also received the news that he had 3 brothers! 2 half brothers from his father’s previous marriage and 1 full brother.
His uncanny resemblance to his younger full brother amazed his parents and they spoke with the social worker assigned to Dave and sent photos of themselves.
It was a lot for us to take in being in a groggy state, but we immediately told everyone the great news and Dave’s adoptive parents were also elated. We studied their faces and everyone seemed to have a different opinion of which parent Dave resembled.
About a week later, Dave received his first letter from his mom and dad and midway through reading it, described it as “everything he’s always wanted to hear”.
From that day on, they have been exchanging letters and have discussed meeting in person.
Dave decided that he would like us to travel to South Korea so that he can meet his entire birth family, see where was born, volunteer at the orphanage where he lived, and also meet his foster mother who the agency was also able to locate!
We hope to make the trip at the end of this year. While we can pay for some of the trip, it will be very costly and could easily exceed $5,000 between flights, accommodation, ground transportation (his parents live a 2.5 train ride from Seoul) an interpreter, etc.
That’s why we are asking our friends and family for some help. If you would like to contribute to Dave’s reunion trip, you can do so on this website. We appreciate any help and will keep you updated on Dave’s journey.
- Melissa Camilleri
- Susan DeRespinis
- Viki And Ted
Organizer and beneficiary