Sixteen years ago Rose Johnston got the best Mother’s Day gift ever: a baby boy adopted from Korea.
Zack Johnston was just 4 months old when he joined Rose and Craig Johnston and their daughter Katie Johnston two days before Mother’s Day in 1995.
This year, Rose Johnston is compiling a book of letters from adopted Korean children to their birth mothers — a way to give back to the Korean women who give up their children and never know if they are loved or how their children feel toward them.
In June 2010, Zack, Rose and Craig Johnston traveled with a large group of blended families to Korea as part of the Korean Ties Program.
“It was the first time we’d seen so many families like ours,” Rose Johnston said.
It was visiting a maternity home called Esther House that really opened the eyes of the Johnston family, especially Zack Johnston, to what these women go through in giving up their babies.
Zack Johnston said he wasn’t sure what to expect during the trip to Korea or Esther House.
“I was very confident that my family created who I am,” he explained. “But going back to connect with my birth country was good.”
He was adventurous in trying Korean food, including silkworms, raw octopus and sea urchin.
But he was shocked when he learned, while speaking to the pregnant women at Esther House, that their greatest fear was that their child would feel shame and hate them for giving them up.
Zack Johnston said he went into the experience not knowing what his birth mother went through and preparing himself emotionally not to be accepted by her. Instead he found the birth mothers were fearing rejection themselves.
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