Sisters Are Reunited Thanks To Home DNA Test Kit
June 24th, 2020 by David Martin
An incredible reunion took place in December 2019. The sisters Kim and Trine met in Copenhagen. Kim Ok Le, 43, was given up as a baby in a Catholic church in Daegu, South Korea.
After a short period at the White Lily Orphanage in Daegu, she was adopted by an Italian family in September 1977.
Kim was always interested in her biological family, and about 20 years ago, she traveled to Korea to find information about her. She visited the agency she had approved for adoption and was able to restore her adoption files – a big surprise in that: a written message from her mom.
Her mom wrote in the letter that the child’s father had been killed in a car accident and that she was seriously injured and could not raise the child alone. The mother also said that she had considered suicide and asked anyone who found her daughter to raise the child well.
Kim naturally assumed that the story in the letter was right: her parents were probably dead, and her unfortunate mother had left her because she was unable to take care of her due to her injuries.
She still wanted to check if she had any living relatives and eventually did a DNA test with a private agency. However, the results were not conclusive. A year and a half ago, she did a DNA test but got no significant effects.
And then, out of the blue, she got an email that turned everything she thought she knew about her story upside down. She had a DNA match on, and the cherished relationship was: sister.
Trine Jensen, was born in Busan in 1978 and left her mother at the age of 1 and three months. After a while in Busan, she was adopted by a Danish family in 1981.
She, too, had tried to find her biological parents and learned from the Korean social service that her biological mother had wanted to see her in the 1980s.
About a year ago, Trine took the home dna test kit to learn more about her ethnic background. She never expected to find one of her relatives – let alone a sister!
Kim and Trine are sisters, which means that what Kim’s mother wrote in her letter couldn’t be right. Kim’s father must be alive when Kim was left. Was the message a fake? Or did Kim’s mother created the story to protect her child from something else?
The issue of adoption is an open wound in South Korean society: the Korean War and the Vietnam War brought two decades of American military presence to the region. Many multi-racial children were born from relationships between local women and American soldiers.
These local children were ignored by society – people saw their existence as problematic. The country’s heads of state and government pursued sending these children abroad for international adoption. But not only were multiracial children brought up for adoption? Illegitimate children or families who had to struggle with financial difficulties also put them up for adoption to ensure a better future.
In the early 1980s, 25 Korean children were adopted by foreigners everyday. An estimation of 200,000 Korean children have been approved for adoption worldwide since the 1950s.
At the moment, the origin of the letter Kim found in her adoption files remains a mystery. In the meantime, the sisters make up for the lost time. They met in person in December 2019. Kim visited Trine in Copenhagen.
The sisters still hope to find their birth mother in Korea – and are wondering if there are other siblings they haven’t seen yet.
“Emotionally, it’s a whole new world,” says Kim. “It was the start of a new search that I had given up.”
“I found out about my roots and found a sister!” Says Trine. “This result was the best gift I could ever have imagined.”
The story of Kim and Trine is the third case of adoptive Korean children that DNA has been able to reunite in the past two years.
Another case, of other sisters who both left and were housed in the same orphanage, became the documentary The Missing Piece.