2012 (Pilot Project)

Knowing your Roots

I arrived in Canada in 1976, greeted by my Canadian family, composed of my mother, a homemaker, and my father, a mechanical engineer, both in their late-20s, and my two brothers, who were four and eight at the time. I, along with a handful of other Korean babies who traveled from Northeast Asia, were greeted eagerly by our Canadian families who had been waiting anxiously for our flight to arrive at the Mirabel airport on May 26, 1976.

We were home, finally, ready to begin life in Canada. While my parents had both lived in different parts of Ontario and Quebec over the course of their lives, work had taken my family to Sept-Îles, which is located in the Côte-Nord region of eastern Quebec. It’s where I called home for the following three years until my family relocated to the Ottawa area and has remained ever since.

I am curious to hear the experiences of other Korean adoptees in Canada. I would imagine most people, adopted or not, develop an affinity at some point in their lifetime to explore their roots. That journey for me began when I was about 24-25 years old — likely spurred on by the process of applying for Canadian citizenship.Photo by John Vetterli (Toronto, Canada)

I’ve always found stories of foreign adoptees and their journey in broadening their cultural awareness to be fascinating because it is such a personal experience. You may have heard of homeland tours, which provide adoptees an opportunity to return to their birth place and experience the culture. Homeland tours, holiday celebrations, local associations, cuisine, language classes and cultural camps are excellent examples of how international adoptive families make birth culture  a part of everyday family life.

The modern era of intercountry adoption started following World War II as orphaned and displaced children affected by the war became more visible to the world. International adoption of children from South Korea began after the Korean War Armistice Agreement was signed in 1953.

An interesting fact, did you know Canada’s military contribution (based on its population) to the Korean War was greater than most other United Nations’ participants. More than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War and another 7,000 served in the theatre between the cease-fire in July 1953 and the end of the war in 1955.

I want to know…

  • Are you adopted or do you know someone who is?
  • Have you considered international adoption?
  • Have you explored your roots?
  • Is your heritage important to you?

Leave a comment and let me know.

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