38 years later, Korean adoptee finds birth name and brother in Cheongju

Posted on : 2023-09-21 16:45 KST Modified on : 2023-09-21 16:45 KST
Alison Christiana was able to track down her history with the help of Banet, a group of Korean women supporting and helping Korean adoptees
Alison Christiana. (courtesy of Banet)
Alison Christiana. (courtesy of Banet)

Alison Christiana, aged 40, is being reunited with her family 38 years after she was sent to the US for adoption at the age of 2.

Christiana said Wednesday she was planning to visit Cheongju, a city in North Chungcheong Province, the next day to be reunited with her older brother. She managed to ultimately locate her family with the help of Cheongju municipal officials.

Christiana, who works as a photographer in California, has visited Korea twice since 2008 in the hope of tracking down her family.

Born in 1983, Christiana stayed at North Chungcheong Hope Center, a now-closed orphanage in Cheongju, from May to October 1985. That November, she was sent to the US for adoption. The only adoption record in her possession listed her name as Lee Ja-yeong.

After various attempts to find her family turned up nothing, Christiana got in touch with Banet, a group that helps adoptees find their roots. Banet in turn asked the city of Cheongju for assistance.

When Cheongju staff reviewed the admission records at the North Chungcheong Hope Center, they found that Christiana had come from a certain village in Eumseong County.

“We contacted the mayor of the village where Christiana was born and asked whether anyone in the village was familiar with the situation at the time. The village mayor said that after someone’s unexpected death in the village, a child had been raised by her grandmother and was later sent to Cheongju,” said Kim Mi-su, an official on Cheongju’s children’s support team.

“As soon as I heard that, I was pretty sure that child must be Alison Christiana, and with a little more research, we were able to confirm that. It seems almost miraculous that Alison was able to learn her birth name and find her birth family.”

When Kim searched the resident registry, she also learned that Christiana’s birth name was “Cho Won-nim” and that her older brother was still alive. She then arranged a meeting for the two of them.

Christiana was set to meet Mayor Lee Beom-seok of Cheongju at 10 am on Thursday at the city’s temporary office building and will then move to a different location to be reunited with her brother.

By Oh Yoon-joo, Cheongju correspondent

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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