"I always thought I was alone in the world"
A DNA test has reunited long lost Korean America adoptees as siblings.
Two Korean American adoptees have discovered they are siblings thanks to a DNA test, according to Oregon Live.
When Hong Ki Hong was 2-years-old, he was abandoned outside the Yongsan Theatre in Seoul, South Korea. He was given the name Hong Ki Hong after the theatre’s manager, Mr Hong, who found the young boy and brought him to the police station.
Meanwhile, 4-year-old girl Jee Young Lee was abandoned by her father a mile or so away at a marketplace. Her father gave her 1,000 won and told her he would return but he did not. A woman who found the young girl found a note in her pocket that read, “please send this child to an orphanage through police station. At present, she has no parents.” Lee told police that her father had drank too much and beat her mother, who eventually ran away.
Both children were adopted by different families through different agencies in the US. Hong Ki Hong was raised in Salem, Oregon as Justin Kragt and Jee Young Lee was brought up as Renee Alanko in Marin County, California. Kragt was abused by his adopted father who is no longer in the family’s life.
Although Alanko had mentioned in her younger years that she had a “cute baby brother” and older sister, her memory of them was too feint to work on.
Born with congenital heart failure, Kragt assumed he was abandoned due to his special needs. His condition required him to have open heart surgery at 4-years-old. “I was content with that,” he said. “I heard other people that had horrible stories and I just thought I’ll believe in my Harry Potter story.”
Kragt, who took a DNA test through 23andMe in 2014 was hoping to find some blood relatives. “I was hoping to find a fifth cousin, as weird as that sounds,” Kragt said about his search.
However, he had no responses until Alanko did the same thing four years later. Alanko had always been curious about her birth family. In 2008, she visited South Korea in search for any traces of family. She sent out over 200 letters to potential fathers, going on the name she was given by the police but found nothing.
DNA test results showed that Kragt and Alanko were a positive match. After discovering they were abandoned in neighbouring districts at the same time, they realised they were siblings.
After talking on the phone and sharing photos, Alanko flew to Portland International Airport to meet her brother, on what happened to be Kragt’s 36th birthday.
“I could not have planned a better gift to give Justin than this,” said Kragt’s adoptive mother, Sue Maguire.
“I always thought I was alone in the world, and I was content with that,” Kragt said before bursting in tears. Alanko gave him a hug as she put her head on his shoulder.
“Now you’re stuck with me,” she joked.
“I have a lot of holes that need to be filled in my heart,” Kragt said, “and this does, it patches it up.”