The twins’ mother is now 85 years old and is on a farm in rural South Korea with dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

“When I heard this, I was very concerned,” said Ms. Doerr. They became more concerned when their June trip had to be postponed. They believe that her condition is still mild, but the fear is that “as she gets older, less and less of her memory will be available”.

Her biological brother, who speaks some English, told the twins that their father wanted sons rather than daughters.

“Coping with all of this,” said Ms. Doerr, “has been an interesting ride for me.”

Unimpressed by the prospect of two weeks at a hotel, 38-year-old Allison Young traveled to South Korea from their home in Frederick County, Md., With her husband and three biological children in August. She returned as both adoptive and soon to be adoptive parents.

The purpose of the trip was to adopt their fourth child who is now almost 2 years old. Ms. Young and her husband had planned an extended stay to help their new son adjust to the family. But the weeks before they obtained custody in late September also gave Ms. Young a second attempt to meet her birth mother.

Two decades earlier, Ms. Young had been studying abroad as a student. She had found her birth mother and scheduled a meeting, but two days earlier her mother had canceled.

“Soo Eun Lee, don’t cry,” her Korean social worker said to Ms. Young using her Korean name. “You have to understand the Korean culture.” The stigma of the single mother drives many adoptions, which are also still viewed as unfavorable. Her mother’s family knew – and still do not know – about her.


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