Monday, September 3, 2012


when i was very young, i realized that i looked different than the rest of my family.  part of this realization came from comments people would make and questions they would ask.  my parents told me all about my adoption early on, how they were newlyweds stationed with the army in korea and ready to start a family.  when the opportunity arose to foster a child from the local orphanage, their request for a baby was met with one chubby baby girl.  me.  they weren't positive how old i was but doctors estimated my age and my father picked the day after his own birthday to be my birth date.

i was blessed with a loving family and an amazing life.  anytime i asked about my background, my parents were always forthright with any information they had and supportive of any way i felt.  and i felt like this family was my only family.  there were times growing up that i wondered if i had any other siblings, times that i wondered why.  why was i given up? why was i unwanted?  but the truth is, i WAS wanted by the only family i've known.  many times in my life people have asked if i'm interested in finding my birth mother.  but i can honestly say i've never had the urge.  i'm not angry or bitter or anything like that.  i just feel like my family is my family.

over 20 years passed before i made it to korea again.  i was in the military myself this time and on the peninsula for a military exercise.  and in the last 9 years i've made more trips out to participate in military exercises without really considering the idea of investigating my roots.  this time however, i felt an urge to see the orphanage in person.  i looked up the agency online and was able to get in touch with them.  they actually have a post adoption section that specifically deals with adoptees interested in visits, cultural exchanges, file reviews, etc.

i was a little anxious about my visit.  luckily i had a very good friend there to support me.  we took some baby supplies and stuffed animals to the orphanage as a donation and they were so grateful.  ms. kim set up a file review but apologized that she was unable to provide any further information than what my parents already had.  then she asked me if i was interested in contacting my birth mother.  i decided i wasn't quite ready for that step but perhaps later i'd be open to the possibility.  after that, we spent some time volunteering with the babies.

there were about 40 babies currently staying there.  after removing our shoes, washing our hands, and donning pink lab coats, we were given some babies to hold.  i fell in love with the sweet little boy in my arms.  he had that perfect baby smell and cautious but tender eyes that looked at me with wonder.  we just snuggled and chatted for awhile and while i was reluctant to return him to the nursery, i was also looking forward to sharing some love with more babies.

overall it was a bittersweet afternoon.  on the one hand, i felt terrible sadness for these abandoned children and a little guilt that i couldn't do more than spend a little time and donate a few goods.  but i also recognize that donating my time and money was helpful and appreciated. the way a crying baby calmed at my touch showed me how grateful they were.  this visit awakened a desire to do more.  at the very least, i plan on visiting and volunteering each year when i make my annual trip for work.  and justin and i agreed to become sponsors, donating a little money each month.  if anyone else is interested in learning more about where i came from or how you can help, please check out their website (Eastern Social Welfare Society).  the english translated page is very well done.

the few photos we snapped with my phone aren't nearly enough to give you the full picture.  there are a lot of charities and programs you can donate to and some people argue that we should give to causes closer to home but at one time, that orphanage was my home.  it's a cause that is close to my heart and i promise you that  those babies will feel the love.

i love these little mobiles.  someone made a bunch and donated them.

who is this strange looking lady?

i don't know you but you are warm and snuggly so we can hang out...



  1. Awesome Sis! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Oh Janene, thank you so much for this wonderful post. For as long as I've known you I have been so grateful that your parents found you and brought you here. We have all been blessed by their love for you. And I've been grateful to your birth mother for providing that opportunity for us to have you in OUR lives. I look forward to exploring the site for the orphange.

  3. Speechless and teary eyed. Janene, your story is incredible and I am inspired by you over and over again. Your heart is so big and so giving to where any person baby, child, or adult feels the love in your smile and the warmth/welcome in your eyes. You move like an angel on earth. I love you girl!

  4. I am so glad that your visit was a positive one. I have always thought that it was important for you to know where you came from but felt that some things you should find on your own when you decided that you were ready. I don't know very much about the circumstances surrounding your birth but I do know that we were blessed to find you. The one thing that I always want you to remember is that you became our daughter the first day we met you and you will always have our love.

  5. This is so wonderful. I'm so glad I got to read it.