After more than 50 years of denying her Korean heritage, Korean adoptee Katherine Kim had just one bucket list that she felt driven to pursue: to finally have a photo of her Korean mother.
Kim was adopted in 1961 by an American couple from California. She says she knows that her life with her adoptive family was better than what she would have likely experienced as a bi-racial child in Korea but that she still needed to connect with her past, including three and a half years with her single mother and time in an orphanage before adoption. Her search began with a DNA test and led to a series of connections to her unknown American father’s side of her biological family. Her father had passed away before she could make connection but the entire experience led her to co-found the U.S. non-profit organization 325Kamra, which seeks to reunite families through DNA. 325Kamra has launched a big awareness and DNA collection campaign.
This month, Kim and 325Kamra President Sarah Savidakis, another mixed-race adoptee, are in Korea to spread the word about their work and collect as many DNA samples as possible with the 300 DNA kits they brought with them. It’s all for free, they stress, and the personal information of those who test will be kept within the organization until a significant match emerges, say, within two generations. Names will appear on public databases simply as “325kamra.
Anyone who sits down for a DNA test will also be asked to provide information about their medical history. Kim and Savidakis will only be (t)here for a couple of weeks, but there will be others here to continue their work. Kim, who has yet to cross off her wish from her bucket list, made sure to add: “We would take a photo. So that the adoptee also has a picture of the family member and they would get that as well.”