My name is Kelsey, I’m 23 years old and I was adopted when I was four months old. When I was younger, my family and I would go to Korean adoptee family events. My desire to learn more about my heritage really grew when I was in college. One of my best friends I met in college was from India. I admired her for taking such pride in her country and culture. She really encouraged me to go on Tour Korea. I wanted to go on the tour that summer after I graduated from college, but the timing wasn’t right. When the time came to sign up for the next summer tour, my mom and I decided that now was a great time to go. My mom has always talked about going back to Korea with me one day and it was surreal today was the day.
I was part of the Tiger Tour that went from the end of June to the second week in July. During my time in Korea, the activities that impacted me the most would be visiting the Ae Ran Won Home in Seoul and the Shin Aewon Orphanage in Gwangju. The Ae Ron Won Home was a single mother’s home. We listened to two single mothers tell their stories about putting their children up for adoption and how it has affected them. Hearing the mother’s side of the adoption process was very powerful and emotional. At the Shin Aewon Orphanage, the children were eagerly waiting for us to arrive and play with them. We played soccer and ate dinner with them. Even though there was a language barrier between us and the children, it didn’t stop us from having fun.
The Tour Korea trip was a life-changing experience for both my mom and me. We both met such wonderful and caring people throughout the trip. I can’t thank our tour guides and translators enough (Caroline, Kim, Susan, John, Julia, and Jed) for making this an unforgettable experience. Tour Korea helped me gain a better understanding of my heritage. It has inspired me to learn more about Korean culture and what I can do to help my birth country.
Since the tour, I’ve started the birth search process. Hearing the single mothers tell their stories and how the adoption process affected them, inspired me to do whatever I can on my end to make an effort to connect with my birth parents. I’m volunteering for a non-profit Korean Adoptee organization, called Adoptee Hub, where I’m a part of their events committee and help run their social media. A goal of mine is to start learning the Korean language so that the next time I go back to Korea, I can communicate more effectively with the people there. One of my long term goals is to become more strongly connected to Ae Ran Won Home and the Shin Aewon Orphanage by volunteering or donating my time and resources.
I highly recommend Tour Korea for Korean Adoptees because it puts you more in touch with your Korean heritage and fills the void that Korean Adoptees have growing up in America. It also connects you with other Korean Adoptees and creates the opportunity for long-term friendships!Learn About Tour Korea 2020