Woman Reunites With the Family and the Twin She Didn’t Know She Had 44 Years After Disappearing at a Market in Korea

Forty-four years ago, Denise McCarty went to the market with her grandmother and disappeared. For four decades her family searched and wondered what happened to their beloved daughter in 1976.

At the time of her disappearance, McCarty was just 2 years old. And at the time, her name was Sang-Ae, WCAX reports

The mountains are calling! #Elevateyouradventure #Yourattitudedeterminesyouraltitude #Wanderlust

Posted by Denise McCarty on Monday, July 16, 2018

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Woman Reunites With the Family and the Twin She Didn’t Know She Had

After going missing in the city of Seoul, South Korea, McCarty was taken to an orphanage. It was there that she was adopted by a family from Vermont.

As McCarty grew up in America, she got increasingly curious about where she came from. That’s when she turned to DNA testing to learn more about her roots.

Posted by Denise McCarty on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It was that DNA test that led her to learn that she had another family, a biological family who loved and missed her very much, according to Korea Now. In 2016, thanks to a Korean program that “unites US adoptees with their biological families using DNA,” she learned that not only were her biological parents still alive, but she had a twin sister.

According to WCAX, when McCarty went missing so did her twin sister. However, when her sister was found hours later, she was quickly reunited with her biological family. Sadly, at the time, McCarty reportedly “fell through the cracks” and was sent to the aforementioned orphanage.

And while McCarty had a lovely and loving childhood, she always felt like she was missing something. In fact, “I was told that I was abandoned, so I never knew that I had family,” she explained.

Then in 2017, just one year after McCarty joined the program to find her biological family, so did her biological mother. Three years later, on October 14, 2020, McCarty would see her mother, twin sister, and her older brother for the first time since 1976.

I can't stop looking at this photo. #awestruck

Posted by Denise McCarty on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Sadly, McCarty’s grandmother and father have since passed away. Due to COVID-19, they could only meet via a virtual video call. Nonetheless, the reunion was an emotional one.

“We never abandoned you, Sang-Ae,” McCarty’s sister, Sang-Hee, said to her. “We were looking for you every day.”

As the family told their long lost child, the opened up a store at the very market where she disappeared with the hopes that she would one day return and they would recognize her. How amazing is that?

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“To have that missing piece of what happened to me is just incredibly overwhelming and happy and it makes me feel whole,” McCarty explained. And despite being away for 44 years and growing up very differently, McCarty and Sang-Hee have very similar interests and personalities.

And while she had always dreamed of meeting her biological father, she took comfort in knowing that she could feel his presence the moments she meant her mother and twin sister. 

“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.”

And now that she’s got an even bigger family and one that loves her very much, “You can’t be happier than that,” McCarty said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

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