Mom and Son Reunite, Thanks to Korean Reality Show

After nearly 40 years apart, TV show connects adopted son and Korean birth mom.

BySUSANNA SONG via via logo
February 06, 2009, 9:29 AM

Feb. 6, 2009 — -- The search for his birth mother took a Minnesota man more than 6,000 miles to Korea, where he was given up for adoption 37 years ago.

Jon Huston never imagined he'd find his way back to Korea.

"I was very nervous," he said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. It was the most nerve-racking thing to know if I would be accepted or rejected."

Huston's birth father was an American soldier who met his birth mother in Korea while stationed there. He died in combat in Vietnam. Huston's birth mother couldn't raise him on her own, so she gave him up for adoption when he was 6.

Huston was adopted by a family in Buffalo, Minn. He's one of more than 13,000 Korean adoptees living in Minnesota. More Korean adoptees live in Minnesota than in any other state, according to Census data.

He said it was not until he was married and held his first child that he longed to meet his birth mother .

"I didn't want her to go to the grave thinking of her son," Huston said.

He searched unsuccessfully for 10 years. Then, in October, a Korean TV reality show asked Huston to share his story. He appeared on the show using a webcam from his home in Minnesota.

It took just a week for the show to find Huston's birth mom.

"I personally wanted her to see me, touch me, pinch me, to show her I'm real," Huston said, adding that his anxiety grew as he rode the bullet train last month to see her in person.

"Dec. 30, 1971, 37 years ago. I'm nervous, very nervous to see her," Huston said.

Once he saw his birth mother, all his concerns disappeared. She cupped his face and would not let go of him. Huston found himself overcome with emotion too.

"Tears of happiness, to finally find her and to tell her, reassure her, she did the right thing, " Huston said.

When the two stepped into her home, Huston found another surprise.

"She had a big picture hanging on the wall and it was me," he said. "For 37 years, she hung on to these pictures."

For Huston, the bond happened instantly.

'Did He Just Fall Out of the Sky'

"She told my translator, 'Did he just fall out of the sky? He's all of a sudden here?'" Huston said.

His birth mother, who is 72 and never remarried, spent days preparing food for him. She said there was nothing better than watching her son eat well.

"I'll remember it forever," he said.

For Huston's birth mother, the visit was bittersweet.

"The first time 37 years ago she put me on an airplane and didn't see me again," Huston said. "Now she got to see me but put me back on the plane and doesn't know when she'll see me again."

Still, she said, if she were to die tomorrow, she'd die happy. Huston hopes to bring his Korean and Minnesota families together someday.

Huston's two children know they have a third grandma now.

He shares their sentiment. "I feel very lucky, that I have two moms," he said. "And you know, my one mom gave me life. And my other mom helped me live life. So I'm just very fortunate."

Susanna Song is a reporter with ABC News' St. Paul, Minn. affiliate KSTP-TV.

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