Happy Ending

February 28, 2007 at 8:13 am | Posted in General Junk | 5 Comments

Here is an excerpt from an article that ran in the Korea Herald regarding Olympic medalist Toby Dawson and his reunion with his biological father recently.  It’s an amazing story…..

Few people can find another moment that would eclipse winning an Olympic medal. Yet, Toby Dawson has discovered one – the Olympic bronze medalist was reunited with his biological father yesterday after 26 years. Known as “Awesome Dawson” for his exploits on the ski slopes that led to a medal in freestyle moguls at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, the 28-year-old is excited to begin a new life that now includes a relationship with his father, Kim Jae-su, a 52-year-old bus driver from the port city of Busan.

“This will be a day that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Dawson said during a press conference at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul.

Amid constant flickering of camera flashes, Dawson – who was adopted at age 3 by American ski-instructor parents in Colorado – seemed to take his celebrity status in stride, for he is optimistic that the media attention will benefit other adoptees.

▲Toby Dawson (right) meets his biological father, Kim Jae-su, in Seoul yesterday. [The Korea Herald]

His first task is in setting up the Toby Dawson Foundation, which will assist overseas adoptees and those who are still waiting to find new families.

“I want to be a spokesperson for those who are in my position,” he said, frequently putting his arm around his newly found father.

Leah Halmi, the skier`s fiancee knew the reunion would be emotional for Dawson but doubted that he would break down. She was right. “He tends to keep his emotions inside,” she said.

Halmi, however, couldn`t hold back her tears when Dawson and his father embraced for the first time. In broken Korean, Dawson said: “I`ve been waiting a long time, father.”

“This is emotional for me, too, because Toby`s the man who I love,” said Halmi, whose wedding date has been set for April.

Halmi added that Dawson`s parents have long supported their son`s quest to find his biological family. Dawson has a younger brother, also a Korean adoptee, who has already found his biological parents.

Later, a noticeably moved Dawson offered a gift – a red, white and blue Norwegian sweater embellished with a U.S. ski team logo, which is often worn by alpine skiers.

“I am very proud to be able to give my biological father this present,” he said.

Dawson, recently named an honorary ambassador for the Korea Tourism Organization, acknowledged the striking resemblance to his father and younger brother, who was also present for the reunion. All three seemed to have an affinity for sideburns.

Upon seeing his father`s graying, longshoreman-like facial growth, Dawson joked that his were just “baby sideburns.”

Smiles and jokes aside, Dawson delved into his past when he asked his father the circumstances surrounding his placement into an orphanage.

The father has long claimed that Dawson was lost at a Busan marketplace. After long hours of searches and visits to local orphanages, he decided to give up.

“I desperately looked everywhere, but I couldn`t find you,” Kim said. “I`m sorry.

“But I am proud of who you have become, and I am proud that you came all the way to Korea to meet me.”

Dawson`s parents have said that the orphanage told them that he was abandoned.

His father`s answer seemed to have little effect on Dawson. He quickly tried to put the reunion into perspective.

“I`m not here to beat him up for what has happened,” he said, later recounting his “confused” childhood, which was like “being stuck between two different worlds.”

He later added that he would like to set up a meeting between his biological father and his American parents.

Dawson`s mother, who is believed to have started another family after her divorce from Kim, has been located but has yet to reveal herself publicly, according to Dawson`s Korean lawyer.

Kim is one of several Koreans who came forward claiming to be Dawson`s biological father.

“That made it a little more difficult, and I`ve also in the last five years had random e-mails and people contacting me,” Dawson said. “So I had a little bit of distaste for people approaching me and saying that they were my biological parents.”

DNA tests of blood and hair samples confirmed that Kim and Dawson were in fact father and son.

Dawson – who has retired from competitive skiing and is now pursuing a professional golf career while living in Palm Springs, California – is one of more than 150,000 Korean children who have been adopted abroad in the past 50 years, according to the Overseas Korean Foundation.

More than 100,000 of those children found new homes in the United States, while France, Sweden and Denmark took in smaller numbers. Although the number of international adoptions has decreased in recent years, Korea still sends about 2,000 children overseas annually.


By Ethen Kim Lieser


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  1. Amy – Thank you for sharing this story…. gives you hope that at some point if our little guys want they can come full circle. A little scary too for us as parents though…..

  2. You are such a brave parent that you would be so into this. Henry and Bean are so lucky to have such an understanding and loving mother.


  3. Thanks so much for putting this story out here, Amy. I’m hoping this very public reunion gives more Korean parents the courage to search and reunite with their children.

  4. How wonderful…thanks for sharing. 🙂 I can’t help but shed a tear. I can’t imagine how he must feel. Of course, it makes me think of G. If he decides he wants to find his bio-parents someday, I hope he gets that same happy ending. I agree though T, it is kind of scary!

  5. […] Ending – P.S. March 12, 2007 at 7:17 am | In korean adoption | When I posted this article from the Korea Herald I didn’t give it a ton of thought.  Especially when I entitled the […]

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