Being an adopted child must leave you with a jumble of emotions about your real family: disappointed to have been given up, but also curious to learn the truth about your past.
When a parent has to make the heartbreaking decision to put a child in care, it can often be for reasons that are out of their hands.
Perhaps money is so tight that they can’t give their children the life they deserve, or one or both parents have a health problem that prevents them from being able to safely raise a child.
Some adopted children know nothing about their past – like Justin Kragt and Renee Alanko.
The brother and sister were both abandoned in South Korea in 1984, aged two and four. The pair were separated and flown to different parts of the world; Justin to Oregon and Renee to California.
For more than 30 years, Justin and Renee knew nothing about the other. In fact, they didn’t even know they had any blood siblings.
But out of curiosity, Renee did a DNA test… and it changed everything.
Back in 2014, Justin had also taken a DNA test. He had assumed that having special needs and being born with congenital heart failure had resulted in his birth parents abandoning him outside a theatre.
Renee had been abandoned by her father. She was left in a market with a note that read: “Please send this child to an orphanage through police station. At present, she has no parents.'”
At the time, she knew her name: Jee Young Lee. She also knew her father’s name, and told police that her mom had run away because her father drank too much and was abusive.
When Renee took her test DNA four years after Justin, the pair were finally matched.
Renee didn’t even know that she had a brother – though her adoptive mom recalled her talking about how cute her “baby brother” was when she first moved to California.
Renee and Justin wasted no time in getting to know one another. It turned out that the brother and sister had been abandoned just one day apart from one another, in neighboring districts of Seoul.
Speaking to the Daily Mail about the moment she learned where her brother was raised, Renee recalled:
“When I went back to Korea in 2008 and did a birth family search, I met Korean adoptees from France, Denmark, Germany… realizing that Justin had been living one state above me for all this time… what a mind trip!”
After lots of online communication, finally, Renee and Justin were reunited in person.
Renee flew to Oregon to visit Justin, just in time to celebrate his 36th birthday.
An emotional video shows the moment that Renee and Justin met at Portland International Airport, where they tearfully embraced.
Speaking to the Oregonian after meeting her brother, Renee was still in a state of happy shock.
“I knew about him all this time. I just never thought I’d ever meet him. … This is really amazing. It wasn’t until I saw his face, his tears, his outstretched arms, that my ability to feel and believe sprang forward.”
The pair have now been catching up on their lost childhoods. Since their reunion, Justin has visited Renee in California.
You can watch the moment that these abandoned siblings finally reunite in the video below.
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