Holt adoptee Cassidy Layman blogs about her experiences on Holt’s heritage tour of Korea.
June 27 – I woke up today excited and nervous, as it was my birthday and the day I was able to visit my hometown and potentially my foster mother. We ate breakfast in the lobby as usual and got on the buses to go to the Holt office. First, half of the group went down the street to the Holt reception center, where we got the opportunity to hold some babies that were not yet adopted. This was such an amazing experience for me because I love babies, especially Asian ones. There were about seven male babies, most with disabilities.
The moment I walked in, one little boy caught my attention – not only because he was so small, but because he sat there with big eyes staring at all 25 visitors, not crying or sleeping like most of the other babies. I made my way towards him and picked him up and he was as light as a feather. I soon found out he had an eating problem and always had to have a feeding tube attached to him and has been underweight and in the hospital since birth. Luckily, he’s able to be in the reception center now. I made sure to hold and love each one of them and to get plenty of pictures. Each child touched my heart and I can’t stop hoping and praying that they each find a home for a better future.
For lunch we ate Korean barbecue and we all sat on the floor with our legs crossed. The meat was cooking in front of us and there were sides of rice and Korean vegetables to go with it.
After lunch, my parents and I got the opportunity to go to my hometown, Sokcho. It was a 3-hour drive there and Holt organized a driver and translator to go with us. My parents and I really bonded with Sia, our translator. The drive was beautiful, through green mountains headed toward the beach. Once we got there, we were able to stop at the small hospital clinic I was born in – thanks to Holt, who was able to find it. We carefully walked inside and I immediately got the chills. This place was very special to me, especially since I knew my birth mother was once here. After minutes of Sia and the receptionist talking, she reached down under the desk and pulled out a small, old booklet with handwritten notes inside. Sia translated that their records said there was one girl born here on June 27 1994, my birthday, at 3:45 PM – the exact time of my birth. Butterflies immediately filled my stomach and I was for sure this was the building I was born in 19 years ago. We were so excited that we had found the place.
An older Korean man in scrubs walked out of a room and Sia translated that this was the exact doctor who had delivered me and the receptionist was the nurse that had helped, along with another nurse who was also at the front desk. We thanked him, while Sia translated. We couldn’t believe that the same staff was still working at the same hospital after 19 years! They were almost as excited as we were and showed us around the small, empty clinic. We went upstairs and entered the exact room I was born in. An old delivery table was in the middle, with faded wallpaper and a small table with tools. I couldn’t believe this was the room I was born in, and how special it was that it was ironically my birthday.
We took pictures with the doctor and nurses and they were so kind and loving towards me. They even wrapped their arms around me and said, “I’m so happy you turned out so beautiful!” My parents and I were both almost in tears as we left. Sokcho was such a beautiful city right on the beach. Cute shops and clothing stores line the streets and the air felt and smelled so good being by the beach. I wanted to stay forever, but unfortunately, we had to leave since we had a long drive back to Seoul.
I felt complete and happy, like there was no longer a missing spot inside. I’ve wanted to meet my birth mother and even though that couldn’t work out, I was very thankful and blessed to have been able to experience the life and culture of where I was born – and that alone was more than good enough for me.
Learn more about opportunities to travel!
Join us on a vision trip (open to anyone interested in Holt’s work) or a heritage tour (for adoptees and adoptive families)!