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Korean American Adoptee Birth Family Reunion

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Hi everyone, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to read my story! If you don’t know me already, my name is Mallory and I live in Ohio with my husband, Jeremy and our two kids, Emmie and Jordan. I grew up in Ohio after being adopted from South Korea around 6 months old. I have a wonderful loving family here that consists of my parents, Jim and Pam, and two older brothers (Jeff and David)  and two younger sisters (Ashley and Amber). My one brother and two sisters are adopted as well (none are biologically related to me).  I had a wonderful childhood full of so many great memories. I always knew I was adopted, but my parents made sure I never felt out of place because of it. My parents always told me they never received my full file from the adoption agency they used, that one page was missing. They were told I was left outside an orphanage without any information. My parents were told my birthdate was estimated, and that my Korean name was given to me at the orphanage.


Once I arrived in Ohio, my parents made sure I got all the necessary surgeries I needed. I was born with a cleft lip and palate, and was lucky enough to have a wonderful surgeon do all of the repairs. I grew up having many corrective surgeries and cannot thank my parents enough for all of the love and support throughout them all! 

Photo of me in the orphanage in South Korea.


Since we were told there was no way of ever finding out any information about my biological family, I never really pursued a search. I did however find out about DNA testing back in 2013. I decided to tryout a popular DNA ancestry and health kit, just for the heck of it. It was so interesting, even if it never really led to any pertinent information regarding my birth family. I only checked my profile every now and again. My most recent check was last month in September. I saw an alert that I had a “close relative” match. I’ve had numerous distant relative matches, but never a close relative one. My heart raced as I clicked on it and read all the info. April, an estimated second cousin, lived near Seattle and was close in age. I decided to take a chance and reach out to her. Mainly just to introduce myself, but deep down I really hoped she’d know who I was. I spent the entire following day constantly refreshing my inbox, with hopes that I’d have a message from April. It wasn’t until later on that evening that I received a message from her. I was so thankful and excited. She told me she wasn’t sure how we are related, but that she’d help me find any info she could! I wrote back and rambled on about myself. Before she could write back to that message, April sent me a message asking if I was born with a cleft lip. When I read it I instantly got goosebumps, and still do to this day whenever I think about it. I quickly replied yes, and April then explained how her mom thinks she’s my Great Aunt. Which means my (Korean) mom would be her niece. She said her mom would call her niece to make sure all of this was correct. But if so, it would be amazing since she knows who I am and have looked for me before. 

I was in absolute shock, but in the best way possible. I never thought I’d ever find any information about my beginning of life; where I was born, who my birth parents are or what they look like, etc etc.  By the following day, I had a phone conversation with Auntie Soonie (my Great Aunt). I found out who my birth parents are, and also that they are married. And that I have a full blooded older brother (Injae) and a full blooded younger sister (Inseo).  I always assumed my birth mother was single and young, so to find out that I have an entire family in Korea is mind blowing. I received photos of my birth family, which is still amazing to me. Just the fact that I finally know what they look like blows my mind. Injae contacted me the following day and I got to message with him (with the help of an online translating tool) and found out the details about why I was given up. My Korean parents didn’t have the money at the time for all of the surgeries I needed. They desperately wanted to keep me, but they didn’t want me to grow up without the proper surgeries, as life is difficult in Korea for children who are disfigured (especially girls). It wasn’t an easy decision, as they loved and cared for me for 4 months before surrendering me to the orphanage. After having children of my own, I can’t begin to imagine the pain they went through before, during and after the moments they said goodbye to me (presumably forever). My parents said they’ve thought about me each day since and have apologized repeatedly and have told me how thankful they are of my American parents. They are so grateful and cannot wait to thank them in person. They are so happy I grew up healthy and happy. My Korean siblings knew about me from an early age, and have been searching for me. They’ve expressed countless times how thankful they are that this miracle has happened.


My birth Mother holding a baby photo of me, the day my Great Aunt told her about finding me. 

 I also found out that my Korean parents received a few photos of me when I was a year old from the adoption agency. There wasn’t any information given, just that I was doing well. It was shocking to me and my parents to now finally find out that the agency had my birth family’s information this entire time, and that the Korean name and birthdate I was “given” was actually all true, and given to me by myKorean family. We think the agency lied and purposely didn’t send my entire file, because my parents requested a closed adoption. They wanted a child who was abandoned without any family to be given to. 

We are all still processing everything, but I could not be happier! I talk online daily with my Korean family. It’s been amazing getting to know them. We are hoping to all meet this coming year in Washington, near where my Great Aunt and cousin live. I cannot wait to meet my Aunt and cousin as well, since they’ve played such a major role in making all of this a reality. I cannot thank them enough for everything they’ve done. 

I would love to rent a house so my parents, Korean family, and my family can all stay together. Between the house rental and flights, it seems out of reach right now. My Korean family would love to come visit in March to spend my birthday together finally, after 32 years. My Korean sister Inseo told me that my Korean family would celebrate my birthday every year, and that my Korean Mom would make seaweed soup every year as well. Seaweed soup is made in Korea on loved one’s birthdays. It would be amazing to finally eat this special soup with my Korean family, and American family. 

My Korean parents own a very small restaurant and are the only employees. I don’t want them to be burdened with financial stress as a result of coming to meet me. I’d love to help pay for their flights, and make sure they don’t have to worry about paying for a hotel when they get here. 


Your donation would go towards:
1.  Offsetting airfare costs for 10 people
2. A vacation house rental large enough to allow my family, American family, and Korean family to all stay together and make the most of the time we have. 

3. Groceries for family meals 

If donations exceed our goal, I will donate it toward Operation Smile and The Smile Train.

Thank you so much taking the time to read my story. Any amount would help make this dream a reality. Even if you can’t donate financially, I’d still be forever grateful if you’d share this with your family and friends. Thank you again!!!


My Korean Parents

My American parents



The resemblance between my Korean Brother, Injae and my son, Jordan is insane!!!! This is a photo of Injae when he was Jordan’s age. Injae (left) and Jordan (right). 


My family

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Donations 

  • Kimberly Mechwart
    • $100 
    • 4 yrs
  • Bev and Jerry Morgano
    • $50 (Offline)
    • 5 yrs
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Organizer

Mallory Knauss
Organizer
Mentor, OH

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