February 9th opens the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. While the festivities will bring athletes and spectators from across the globe, one special group will be coming home. For a group that left as orphans decades ago, this will be their first time stepping upon the shores of their homeland, and that makes these Olympic ceremonies even sweeter.
It is no secret that South Korea has had a large number of foreign adoptions since the 1950s. Beginning with the biracial lovechildren of the Korean War, others were quickly added that did not meet the expectations of the starkly conversative nation. This includes female infants, as well as children of families with more than two children and unwed mothers. The peak in South Korea’s foreign adoptions occurred around the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. The number of foreign adoptions steadily decreased after the country’s 2007 to 2013 adoption legislation which limited the number of foreign adoptions, set a five month waiting period, and encouraged home country priority adoptions.
Although adoptive parents love adopted children as their own, some adoptees still feel a desire to know about their birth families and where they came from. This need for ancestral roots is what inspired Keziah Park of the International Korean Adoptee Service to arrange the Olympic Homecoming. The week-long trip includes athletic events and seats at the Opening Ceremonies.
The trip will also include a visit with one special Olympic athlete, Marissa Brandt. Marissa understands what it is like to be an adoptee. She was adopted at four years old and moved to the US. After college, she became a dual citizen and is now playing on South Korea’s women’s ice hockey team.
Ms. Park hopes trip guests will connect with other adoptees and find the ties they’ve been looking for.