She Grew Up Believing She'd Been Abandoned. 44 Years Later, She Finally Learns the Truth About Her Family

It was 44 years ago, in 1976, when Sang-Ae and her twin sister Sang-Hee, just a few years old at the time, tagged along to a market in Seoul with their grandmother.

At some point, for unknown reasons, the two toddlers were separated from their grandmother and became lost.

While Sang-Hee was found three days later and was reunited with her family, when Sang-Ae was found, she was taken to an orphanage and later told she’d been abandoned at a hospital because she’d been sick.

She was adopted by an American family in 1976, and until recently, had no more information about her past. Little did she know, her parents had been desperately trying to find her.

They searched everywhere for their daughter after she went missing, even going so far as to open a shop in the market where she went missing, hoping it would help them find her.

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They never gave up — and finally, after a lot of worrying, four decades and some DNA tests, the family was able to reunite over video chat.

Sang-Ae, now Denise McCarty, visited South Korea in 2016. During that time, she took advantage of a program that offered to (if possible) track down the families of U.S. adoptees through DNA testing.

“I was told that I was abandoned, so I never knew that I had family,” McCarty told Korea Now.

But that was one of the first things her family clarified when speaking to her: They reassured her that she had been very much wanted, and very much missed.

“We never abandoned you, Sang-Ae,” Sang-Hee said. “We were looking for you every day.”

McCarty was thrilled to have a sister — especially a twin. As is the case with many twins, the sisters shared many traits even though they’d grown up far apart.

“To then know that I had a twin sister who looked just like me!” McCarty told WCAX-TV. “To have that missing piece of what happened to me is just incredibly overwhelming and happy and it makes me feel whole.”

McCarty has since shared her story with the world, both through news outlets and through her own personal Facebook account.

“I just found out 4 weeks ago that I have an identical twin sister, older brother, birth mom and younger sister that live in Seoul, Korea,” she posted to Some Good News on Wednesday. “I met them for the first time on October 14th since getting lost as a child in a market when I was 2 years old. I was adopted and live in Vermont.”

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While meeting in person will have to wait, the family was so happy to be able to reunite after all those years. McCarty’s grandmother and father have since passed, but she claimed that she could sense them.

“And we had the reunion and I know he was there in spirit because I think that he just made this happen and I think that my maternal grandmother that lost us that day … I know she was there as well. I could just tell,” the long-lost daughter and sister said.

“I’ve just got this huge family now that loves me and that I love,” she added. “You can’t be happier than that. You can’t ask for more than that.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking