Seoul, South Korea: a Homecoming
[Recapping our trip, 164 days in]
We arrived in Seoul on Sunday, October 16, fresh off a flight from Busan. (Naturally, we used Chase Ultimate Rewards points, transferred to Korean Air, to give ourselves a nice free business class trip for the short flight north.) Far and away, Seoul has been the emotional climax of our trip so far, and a little explanation will probably help to clear up why.
Charley’s sister Rachel and her boyfriend Jason took an overseas flight to join us for our time in Seoul. Here you can see her arrival and the treat she hauled across the Pacific Ocean to meet her brother:
It’s probably obvious from the picture, but just to be explicit about things: Rachel was adopted from Seoul as a child, over thirty years ago. Meeting us to spend a week in Seoul was a really wonderful chance for her and Charley to see where she was born. It was also Jason’s first opportunity for international travel, and he survived his 14-hour flight to Asia like a champ!
Before emotional meetings later in the week, we made sure to enjoy ourselves with a healthy dose of tourist sights, sounds, and tastes.
The news was mixed. We had contacted the agency ahead of our visit, and a caseworker Ms. Kim was ready onhand to meet with us. Rachel’s case file was in perfect order, with all of the paperwork intact going back to 1983.
Unfortunately, though, the file very clearly noted the biological mother’s whereabouts and origin as UNKNOWN. (As an interesting side note, she also mentioned that their policies have evolved since the early 1980’s. These days, adoptees with no biological parent information are allowed only for domestic adoptions, not international.) The meeting was an emotional homecoming for Rachel, but we were beginning to think it was time to move on, when something unexpected happened: Ms. Kim flipped through the end of Rachel’s file and said, “Oh! The woman who accompanied you to New York is the daughter of our company’s founder. She is now the President of our organization, and Dr. Park will be back in the office in a few hours if you would like to meet her.”
We certainly did! We couldn’t wait, and Rachel’s meeting with Dr. Park was an emotional meeting, with a woman in her 70’s who was born in North Korea and now spends her time working as hard as she can to place children into loving homes.