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Heather Papp Jamie Kemp Jo Rankin Karen Eckert
Kate Hershiser Michael Lorilla Steven Haruch

At approximately 10 days old, I was found at Chungbu Police Station in Seoul. The date was February 21, 1971. There was no written information left with me, so I was given the name "Park Hae Soon". The officials said I looked about 10 days old, so they estimated my birthdate as February 12, 1971. I was placed into City Baby Hospital for the first four months of my life & then I was put into Holt International's foster care program.

I was adopted at age 9 months old and was raised in Danville, California. Growing up with the Eckert family was very natural for me; I never felt "unaccepted" or too different from them. Even though I was Korean and my brothers and parents were white, I didn't feel I stuck out too much. They never made a big issue out of it and to me, they have always been my REAL family.

We would celebrate my "Arrival Day" every year, my second birthday. Mom would make a scrumptious Korean dinner, followed by an American dessert and Korean gifts. I was always very fulfilled with my family and never had a major desire to seek out my roots until I was 23 years old.

I moved to Sacramento when I was 18 to go to college, and five years later, I joined an adult adoptee group. I really enjoyed meeting other adoptees and sharing experiences and being able to empathize with similar feelings and emotions. That has always been very special to me; how I can easily bond with other adoptees just by sharing that common background.

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Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to travel back to Korea three times within the past three years. Two of the trips were Korean government-funded tours and they were excellent ways to learn about the Korean people, culture and see the scenic areas of Seoul. I also made many new adoptee friends through these trips and I cherish that fact.

The past trip in June 2000 was a personal trip so that I could conduct some interviews for my documentary, JOURNEY OF HOPE, and also to see if I could seek out any living birth relatives. By seeing other adoptees being reunited, sparked hope within me and I figured, "why not? I have nothing to lose"....my family was very supportive of my efforts and they wanted me to fulfill my dream. However, I knew my chances were very slim since I was a newborn with no information when left. So, I went into the search process with a very indifferent attitude: if it's meant to be, it'll happen. If not, then that's fine too.

After this past trip with no results, I feel a sense of resolvement, knowing that I tried everything I could do to try to find any link to my past. And I feel my Korean friends that I keep in touch with ARE my Korean family and that's very important to me as well. I feel I can move on with my life and not dwell on the dream of meeting birth family; that's a closed chapter to me, and that's a good feeling.

I'm thinking of traveling to Korea next year possibly to live abroad for awhile. I'm not really sure if it'll happen, but it is an idea I've been considering. I think it'd be wonderful to immerse myself in Korean society for awhile and see what life is like...to see what MY life could've been like if I had been raised there. Whenever I'm in Korea visiting, I always feel a sense of loss; a sense of insecurity because I don't really FEEL Korean and I wish I could....so maybe if I was to to live in Korea, I would be able to overcome my insecurities. But overall, I think it would just make me a more well-rounded individual and it would be a wonderful growing experience.

Producing this documentary, JOURNEY OF HOPE, has been a labor of love for me the past two years and my main motivation to produce it was because of the misconceptions some Koreans have towards adoptees. I feel I'm doing my part, taking a small step forward, in trying to bridge the gap between adoptees and Koreans so that we may be able to understand each other better. I want Koreans to realize that adoption CAN be a very positive experience and yes, many adoptees have had really tragic, sad upbringings in their adoptive families. Those stories need to be heard. The positive stories need to be heard also and I want to contribute to that.

At age 29, I am now at a point in my life where I feel proud to be a Korean-American. It's a good feeling and although there's much more to learn about Korean culture, I feel I'm taking baby steps towards that goal.
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