A woman adopted as an infant by American parents from South Korea recently met her biological mother and sister in a reunion that took 33 years to happen.
Raised in Chickasha, Oklahoma by her adoptive parents, Nancy and Jimmy, 33-year-old Shelee Henderson shared that she grew up knowing her birth mother willingly gave her up for adoption to provide her a better life in the United States.
Shelee shared her story in a series of TikTok videos, which included some clips from the reunion.
It was actually in 2019 when Shelee’s birth mother and sister came to visit her in the U.S. The reunion video on TikTok, which shows her mom and sister rushing to give her a tight hug, has since been viewed over 3.7 million times.
“Meeting my biological mother and sister for the first time in 33 years. #reunited #adopted #meetmyfam #southkorea #birthfamily,” she wrote in the caption of the video.
In her later posts, she explained that she was just a few months old when her biological father gave her up for adoption against her mother’s will.
“I was actually not given up willingly by my birth mother for a better life like I had always been told. Turns out, she and my birth father were in fact married. They had my sister. She was three when I was born,” she narrated.
“When I was one-month-old, marital problems arose. Our father kicked our mother out of the home. Out of anger and resentment for her, he took me to the adoption agency and put me up for adoption.”
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According to Shelee, her father decided to keep her sister.
“One month later, my mother returns to the home in an attempt to reconcile the marriage. Of course, she finds out what he had done. She couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Her mother tried to get her back from the adoption agency but she was told that it would cost her.
“My mother had no money, so she left. However, she returned three months later with money in hand. She paid the money and got me back. We went back to living at home with my father and sister as a family for one more month before history repeated itself,” she continued.
For a second time, Shelee’s father kicked her mother out and took her to the adoption agency. Her mother tried to get her back again a month later after returning home.
“She went back to the agency to repeat the process, but when she returned with the money a couple of months later, it was too late. I had already been adopted out in a closed adoption,” she went on.
Shelee then explained how her mom and sister eventually found her over 30 years later.
“My birth mother ended up staying with my father for the next 27 years, grieving, crying, longing for her baby taken from her not once but twice,” she shared in another clip. “She and my sister were both physically and mentally abused by my birth father.”
“My sister claims she hates and resents our father for breaking up our family while causing her and our mother such pain,” Shelee explained. “When our mother finally built up the courage to leave our father just seven years ago, my sister begged him one last time to help her find me. He finally told her where to begin the search.”
Shelee’s sister was then able to contact the Holt International in South Korea, which then reached out to Dillon International, the agency used by her adoptive parents in the U.S.
“They’re the ones who actually researched, located, and contacted me,” she said. “They found me on Facebook. I got a call one Sunday morning saying they had some information for me regarding my birth family, and so our journey to reunification began.”
She also shared a video of her mother and sister saying goodbye at the end of their visit before flying back to South Korea.
“#adoption reunifications can be something beautiful.. but those #goodbyes are always tough #adoptee #southkorea #reunited,” she wrote.
Feature Image via @sheleehenderson