A woman who was adopted after going missing from her family at a market in South Korea has been reunited with her birth family 44 years on. Denise McCarty, 46, of Springfield, Vermont, was adopted by an American family from an orphanage she was sent to after she vanished and, until now, has never known her biological family.
But on October 14, Denise shared a Zoom call with her mother, twin sister and older brother after DNA tracers in South Korea found links between Denise and her family.
Speaking to news station WCAX, an emotional Denise said: ‘That piece of what happened to me is incredibly overwhelming and happy and just makes me feel whole.
‘My heart was beating a hundred miles an hour. Like, I could not believe this was happening.
‘I’ve just got this huge family now that loves me and that I love. You can’t be happier than that. You can’t ask for more than that.’
Denise, whose birth name is Sang-Ae, and her twin sister, Sang-Hee, became lost when they were separated at a busy market from their biological grandmother in June 1976.
Her sister was found three days later and returned to their family. McCarty, whose birth name is Sang-Ae, was instead taken to an orphanage two hours away.
When she was adopted the same year on Christmas Eve, the adoption agency told her new family that she was abandoned at the hospital because she was ill.
Denise said she had no idea she even had a twin sister and has always wondered who her biological parents are. In a bid to find out, she took a DNA test while visiting South Korea in 2016.
It took four years for the DNA tracers to get back in touch with her but when they did, the South Korean company called her to say that her birth family had been located.
‘They never found me and I never saw them again’, said Denise, speaking about the day she went missing.
Only a couple of weeks after finding out about her relatives, Denise was able to reconnect for the first time with her mother, twin sister and older brother on a Zoom call on October 14.
Denise said her ‘omma’ (mother), told her they never stopped searching for her and stayed in the village where she went missing in hopes that she would return.
She said: ‘I told my omma that I was sorry that I got lost and that she was worried about me and that she didn’t give up.
‘I wanted to thank her for that because it’s been so long.’
Denise added that she plans to travel to South Korea when the Covid-19 pandemic ends so they can meet each other in person.
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