The wave of immigration to Seoul is drawing Korean-Americans who were adopted into U.S. families as babies and are looking for their birth parents — some with the help of a popular TV show.And since this is about adoptees searching, the story has to end with the ubiquitous don't-worry-amom-is-my-real-mom quote: “I kind of feel more like she‘s an aunt,“ he said. “My mom, back in the States, she‘s awesme. She‘ll always be my mother." Will we (APs, society) ever be secure enough that these kinds of assurances can be skipped?
Every Friday morning, “I Miss That Person” is broadcast across South Korea, and American citizens are frequent guests. They describe birthmarks and fragmented memories in hopes their biological relatives will recognize them, and they answer questions like: “If you met your birth mother what would you say?” and “Did you experience racism growing up in the U.S.?”
Ari Alberg, 32, met his birth mother a week after appearing on the show, thanks to an uncle who realized who he was. “I said, ‘If my family’s out there, I’m interested in meeting them. I don’t harbor any grudges,'" said Alberg, who grew up in Portland, Ore., but now lives in Seoul.
Not everyone has to take such a dramatic step, but thousands have traveled to Seoul in search of their family tree.
Some put down roots. Jon Balch, 32, returned to the U.S. after connecting with his birth family. But this spring, he left Jackson Heights, Queens, for Seoul and got a job delivering wholesale ingredients to American-run restaurants.
"I Miss That Person"
Some Korean adoptees use a TV show in Korea to find birth relatives, and many who go searching end up staying: