Kim Gantt didn’t have a traditional childhood.
Her adoption papers showed that she was 3 years old when her American parents brought her home from South Korea. With no memories of that time in her life, Kim grew up believing she’d been abandoned by her biological family. But things aren’t always what they seem.
Decades later, the 55-year-old, who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, wanted to know the truth. She’d guessed that she was the product of a relationship between an American soldier and a South Korean local, but she wanted to know for sure. So she took a trip to South Korea, hunting for the orphanage she’d lived in before she was adopted.
That’s when pieces of her puzzle started coming together. She learned that she’d actually been in two different orphanages, not one, and had no hospital records because she was born at home. After following a police officer’s suggestion to take a DNA test, she also realized she is fully Korean, so her original theory didn’t fit.
Months after her first international visit, Kim received an email from the police department she’d worked with. They informed her that her DNA matched two people, Labangnyeo Jong and Yuman Jang. The couple had submitted their DNA in 2014 because they wanted to find their biological daughter, Mi Kyung.
Kim was that daughter. They’d been searching for her for 50 years!
So in 2019, she returned to South Korea to meet the biological family that had never stopped loving her! After their emotional reunion, Kim started getting to know her parents, younger sister, and two younger brothers.
And finally, she learned what happened all those years ago. She was actually 5 when she went missing, not 3. Her mother was working in Seoul and left Kim in the care of her late elderly grandfather. One day, Kim wandered off, and her grandfather couldn’t find her. Instead of telling the truth, her grandfather told her family she had died. Fortunately, they didn’t believe him.
“I guess it was easier to say I died than to say, ‘I lost your child,'” Kim said. “I don’t know at what point [Labangnyeo] found out I wasn’t dead.”
Now that they’re together again, Kim’s biological family is eager to make up for lost time! Using her sister as an interpreter, Kim was able to speak with them and felt completely welcomed into their community.
“It was more than I ever dreamed of and beyond,” she said. “There was a lot of nervousness and mystery because I didn’t know what to expect. Once I got there, it just all came together and was totally fine.”
Although she is thrilled that she has some answers, Kim still struggles with questions about her past. “I may never know the real truth,” she said. “But at least I have another family, and that’s the greatest gift. Now I know who I look like, who I take after, my medical history … it’s a gift, and I will cherish it forever.”
Love really does transcend all barriers! Although Kim has faced many hardships, knowing the truth — that her family never stopped loving her and hoping for her return — has set her free.
Be sure to share this incredible reunion with others.
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