My Moment

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.

9 Replies to “My Moment”

  1. Cherry,
    So sorry for your loss, God bless you and your family. Your mother sounded like a wonderful woman. Good luck too you.

  2. Amen… Praise the Lord for the healing of your soul. I don’t know how I got to the orphanage I came out of and have very little information aside from a 1 month progress report but the Lord saw fit to place me (via Holt) into a wonderful Christian family… Your trip is one that I have yet to make. Let that gift from your Mother continue to guide and strengthen your future.

  3. Cherry — this is an excellent article and it was truly a privilege to meet you and everyone on our memorable Holt Korea Heritage tour. Do you have your camera??? ;o)

  4. I too, was left at a police station when I was 2-1/2. I have always wanted a picture of that police station.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! What a wonderful thing your adoptive mom did for you by blessing the trip to your homeland. I also was adopted (10mos) from South Korea and grew up as one of very few minorities in a small rural MN town. I felt so much the same as you…thinking I was white even though I attended a great Korean Culture Camp during the summers. So our experiences are similar in many ways! They found me in a “police box” as well when I was about 3 months old. I went back to Korea through a different organization when I was 27…incredible & life changing! What a beautiful country & what beautiful people! Loved the food, too!
    Since you mentioned it in your article, there’s just one thing that I’m still wanting to know: what is a “police box”? I sort of know what it was used for, but never was able to see one while I was there. If you or anyone can help me find out, that would be so great! When I went to Korea, I tried to ask the social worker who was giving us our tour but I don’t think she understood me & there wasn’t an interpreter nearby. Perhaps this is important to me because there is no information about my birth family. So it’s a “solve-able”mystery!

  6. Cherry! Beautifully said. Thank you so much for writing this so we could know just how you were feeling as you ventured out into your place of so many mixed emotions. I’m so thankful that you had the experience and so thankful that you’re back here with us where so many people love you so dearly.

  7. Cherry, I have always loved your story and your acceptance of the path God put you on. Remember you as a friend from many years ago in St. Joseph, MO at Caring First Church. Miss you, my friend, and always wondered what had happened to you. Happy for your journey, peace, and success in your life.

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