Korean Adoptees Find Each Other

Adoptees from the small Ilmagwon Orphanage in Gunsan, South Korea, are connecting after almost forty years!

My two adopted daughters, Gina and Treasure, and I returned to Korea for the first time in 2012. I was in Korea from 1972 to 1974, living several months in the orphanage. We met the same woman, Mrs. Park, who ran the orphanage while we lived there. The one who cared for hundreds of babies and children is now 91 years old but she remembered us. This godly caretaker had prayed for her babies and their adopted families.

2012 korea trip 149

I sat in the orphanage office and looked at a photo album with baby pictures. Each abandoned baby had been assigned a page and a number. I saw baby pictures of my girls on numbers 134 and 141. As I flipped through the pages, I saw babies/toddlers I remembered and I cried. I had spent many hours sitting on the floor holding those babies and hugging those toddlers. What had become of all those bundles I wanted to take home with me and couldn’t?


I wrote several blogs about the Korean trip and posted old pictures of the orphanage. My daughter, Treasure, even blogged about it.

Most Korean adoptees are from Seoul, so only a few were adopted in the 1970’s from Ilmagwon Orphanage in Gunsan. Men and women from the U.S. Kunsan Air Base “Wolfpack” still visit consistently and help the children. I’m so proud of them. It is not a babies home any more but I think about 70 children live in the orphanage now.

It was amazing, a dream of a lifetime to return to Korea, but the most amazing thing has happened since we returned. Angela from California, another adoptee, who lived in the orphanage at the same time as my daughters, contacted us. She had found us through my blog. She was number 140. She was in the orphanage at the same time as my daughters! She was one of those babies I held! My heart about flipped with joy when I met her for a few minutes in the airport when coming back.

Then another girl wrote, Nikki from Alabama, saying she was also from the same orphanage at the same time. Then Michelle, then Mindy, then another and another.

Eleven of the Korean Adoptees from the 1970’s have found us! They live across the U.S.—from Oklahoma, California, Alabama, Kansas, Texas, New Jersey, and Arkansas! If we had visited Korea ten years ago, this internet connection might never have occurred. Only God can do something like this!

Forty years after I left Korea with two precious little ones, we plan to have an Ilmagwon Sisters reunion – some time in 2014. Mrs. Park will be thrilled to find out these children of hers are connecting and I’ll be glad to give them all a big hug!

You are loved,

8 replies on “Korean Adoptees Find Each Other”

Hi Kathryn,
I am good.After I came back to Taiwan from Edmond, I gave my X a big hug with forgiveness, Thank Lord.He and I can talk like friends or parents mostly now.
My little boy plans to study in USA after 2 years. Maybe I will have chance to visit you.There is a small struggle in my mind, I want to visit you, but I am afraid I want to stay in Oklahome.Edmond is a paradise to me, I can fell, and smell, and touch God’s love there.
Miss yours,Teresa

Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 15:51:34 +0000

Teresa, so happy to hear from you! I tried to send you email but don’t’ have your address. Can you write to me? I have a book to send you. You are welcome any time in Edmond, Oklahoma! Miss you much, kathryn

Hi Kathryn,
I was happy to just find your post/blog.
My name is Ann YoungJa Kim (Kim YoungJa) & I was adopted in 1975 (age 6) from Ilmagwon. Fortunately, I have been back to visit Ilmagwon in 1989 (study abroad), 1993, 1999 & 2000. 1989 was the first time I was reunited with Umma (Mrs. Park). She is my first & ‘true mother’. What a blessing she is & continues to be.
I’m from the Twin Cities, MN. Coincidentally, there are twins from MN that I know, also from Ilmagwon. I was also fortunate enough to reunite with my orphanage friend (never adopted) back in 1994, who was living in KY then VA.
Small world.
Thank you,
Ann Y. Kim

Wow! So good to hear from you. We have connected with about 10 other ilmagwon adoptees, and each time I find another girl I get excited! After being away from korea for 40 years and wondering what happened to all those babies I held in the orphanage, I am thrilled to hear from you. (I may have known you as a baby!) You can find me on facebook. Kathryn

Thank you so much for your blog. I just returned from a Korea tour with Dillon Adoption. We spent time at Eastern Welfare in Korea. I was given the name of the orphanage during my file review. I would love to hear more about your experience meeting Mrs. Park again. I was there in 1980 I believe. I was adopted when I was two and a half. I am now 36 years old.

So exciting to hear from you! I lived in Ilmagwon orphanage in the 70’s. Please email me if you can or find me on facebook! We have lots of pictures from the 80’s so you might be in some of them ! You can’t imagine how much of a blessing this is to find you!

Hi, Kathryn, My name is Kristin and I was at Ilmagwon from 1970 to 1975. My name given at the orphanage was KunSook-Park and my number was 8-39?. I was adopted in 1975 by a family in Michigan and now I live in Florida. You might of held me once! How is Mrs. Park today? I think that’s me in the old pictures the 5th one down? I’ll look for you on Face Book. Kristin

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