A Florida Woman's Long Search for Her Korean Birth Mother Ends, in All Places, Here in Houston

Categories: Cover Story

chaeUSE.jpg
Chae Haile on her Korean trip.
Chae Haile is a woman born in Korea and left to be adopted by a mother who had few resourses and four daughters already.

She was sent to America and, eventually, married and settled in Florida.

She set out to look for her birth mother, went to Korea for information, but seemed to have not succeeded. Then her Korean sister e-mailed her and, through broken English, re-established contact.

The mother eventually overcame her guilt and wanted to meet Chae, who was back in the U.S.

As it turns out, the mother was coming to Houston to help a friend who had just given birth.

With the help of the Korean American Society of Houston, a reunion was made.

You can read about the search in our sister paper Broward New Times, but here's some of the Houston reunion of Chae, her husband Greg and mom Moon Ja:

Chae and Greg decided to fly to Houston to meet her mother. They didn't speak Korean, and Moon Ja spoke little English, so the couple reached out to a Korean-American organization in Houston to help. The group promised a translator and a videographer who could record the meeting.

After arriving in Houston in January 2011, Greg and Chae drove to a stately brick home in the suburbs. Before pressing the doorbell, Chae looked back to the entourage in tow. Greg was there, holding the video camera as usual, as was a translator and the videographer team.

The door opened, and her mother was there almost immediately, arms outstretched. Her right arm went around Chae's neck and her left under her arm. She pulled Chae in the house while making cooing noises as if for a baby. She whispered words in Korean that Chae couldn't understand. They both sobbed. Her mother put both hands on the sides of Chae's face to take a first look at her daughter as an adult before embracing her again. Chae, never known to cry easily, joined her in tears, surprising herself with how much she felt from seeing this woman she had never met. "It was unbelievable," Chae recalls. "But at the same time, I was just at a loss for words. We sat there, and we were both just struggling with what to say."

Read the whole thing.


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