Season 4, Episode 12: Hea - I Woke up and My Mother Was Gone

Today we are exploring another mother and daughter relationship. Hea was adopted from Korea but didn’t really start exploring her Korean heritage until her daughter Emma started getting curious. Hea shares about how her relationship with Emma spurred them both to process what being adopted really means.

Show Notes


Topics We Discussed

  • Hea shares her story about being adopted from Korea
  • She was flown to Ohio (then moved to Texas) and adopted by a couple with three older biological sons
  • KAD = Korean Adoptee
  • Her parents divorced
  • Free DNA kit for Korean adoptees: www.325kamra.org/free-dna-kit
  • The prejudice and racist beliefs her adoptive mother and stepfather had led Hea to go no-contact with them several years ago.
  • When Emma asked Hea about being Chinese - this spurred Hea on to investigate her roots.
  • We talk about the common story that Korean adoptees hear from agencies: your files were lost in a flood or a fire
  • Finding out that things she believed about herself from a young child were not true
  • Going back to Korea on her own to begin her search
  • We talk about parenting, and some of Hea and Fred’s decisions of where to send Emma to school and how to teach her about her culture
  • We discuss names and how Hea decided to change her name back to her first name
  • “Through my relationship with her [Emma] I’ve allowed myself to grieve for what I’ve lost”
  • Hea talks us through the Adoptee Citizenship Act, and explains the gap in citizenship for international adoptees

  • The "Unknown" Culture Club: Korean Adoptees, Then and Now by Janine Myung Ja
  • White Unwed Mother: The Adoption Mandate in Postwar Canada by Valerie Andrews
  • Hea Ryun recommends these to explore the history of Korean adoption:

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