A mother’s last request for her daughter—a trip to her homeland
by Cherry Hedges, adoptee and heritage tour participant
Once upon a time there was a baby Korean girl abandoned in a police box in Seoul, Korea. For the next 10 months, she lived in a total of seven different hospitals, orphanages and foster homes. At 16 months of age, she was flown to America to become a part of the Kennard family, Reverend Larry and his wife Leona Kennard.
This is the beginning of my story. This beginning has had a profound effect on the rest of my life, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Growing up in a small Missouri town, as one of the only minority girls, was quite the experience. Because everyone around me was white, I considered myself white as well. For this reason, the discrimination that I received often confused me. I did feel special and unique in certain ways, because I knew that I was chosen to be part of a wonderful family. However, there was always that feeling that I didn’t quite belong.
Fast forward thirty years: I walked off a plane and into the Seoul airport. That feeling of not quite belonging was brushed away as I looked around and was surrounded by other Korean people. Everyone looked like me! Even though I didn’t speak the language, I blended in. It was overwhelming. I felt like I was home. This homeland trip was also bittersweet. My adoptive mom was dying of cancer. She wanted to make sure I had the experience of going back to Korea before she passed away. She gave me this wonderful gift, and for that I am forever grateful.
The homeland tour was a time for me to connect with my past and bridge the gap from what I thought I knew about Korea to what was real. My “moment” came when I stood on the corner of the street where I was abandoned, looking up at the tall building, smelling the air, and feeling like I had come full circle. More than ever, the value of the blessings of my life, the heritage of my faith and the privilege of my journey became more real to me.
My mom passed away in February. I cannot express enough how much her love, faith and life meant to me. God gave her to me and then took her too soon, but I am forever grateful that she followed His call to adopt an abandoned little girl in Seoul, Korea.