Senior Grant Argent Went to South Korea Over the Summer to Learn About the Culture of His Birthland


(left to right) Kathy, Grant, and Guy Argent pose for a picture in front of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. Kathy and Guy plan on more trips to the country for their younger children, Corynn and Clark, both also from South Korea, making it so each child has an individualized experience. (Photo submitted)

By Heeral Patel

Two weeks. Six families. Ten adoptees. A trip no other can compare to. One world of culture and customs to discover. The reality of it all didn’t set in until senior Grant Argent finally set foot in Seoul, South Korea.

“It was just like a vacation, but you know, you get to see where you were born and immerse yourself in a culture that you really didn’t know a lot of because you were born there, but because I was adopted, I don’t remember any of it,” Grant said. “It was just really cool getting to see a bunch of people that looked like me, and I got to go on a big tour. It was like a big vacation really.”

The tour, called the Destination Korea Homeland tour, encompassed a two-week round-trip of the country specifically designed to show Korean adoptees where they come from. It kicked off in the country’s capital, Seoul, where they visited their adoption agency, Eastern Social Welfare. In the agency, once children are given up for adoption, they are given a file and a foster home. The kids are placed in foster care so they can be raised in a familial environment. While at the agency, the kids got to look through their files and meet their social workers. Some, including Grant, were lucky enough to meet their foster parents. Grant’s foster mom raised him for the first four months of his life, which was fairly unknown to him before their meeting.

“I wish I spoke some Korean so I could’ve spoken to her myself,” Grant said. “It was a lot of translating. She held my hand the entire time, and she remembered me from when I was a baby. She really wanted to adopt me herself, but she decided not to, and that’s why I’m here. Apparently, she was going to stop fostering because she didn’t get me in the end. I was kinda nervous, but I was just a little curious about what she looked like. It was just really cool to meet her and see her and see that part of my life that I was missing because I didn’t remember anything because I was adopted when I was [four] months old.”

Grant’s parents, Kathy and Guy Argent, had planned to do a trip like this for most of his life. The opportunity arose with Destination Korea Homeland, and Grant, who has always been curious about Korea and his past, accepted his parents’ offer.

“He has alway been very inquisitive about who he is and where he came from,” Kathy said. “We’ve always been very open with him and very honest with him about everything that we know. There’s no way I could’ve taught Grant all these things. Even if I could’ve read it to him, there’s no way he could’ve learned all that without us going.”

In essence, the tour taught the adoptees what they would have known had they grown up in Korea. Accompanying the Argent family were five other families, each with a child of their own that was adopted from the country. The experience of discovering their origins became something that the adoptees could share with each other.

“I think it was really cool because we were able to experience it together, but also understand what we each were feeling,” Samantha Singer, a 20-year-old adoptee from the tour who attends Texas Christian University, said. “When we met our foster parents, we were all able to connect. We weren’t able to get a lot of information out of our files about our families, so we were able to connect on that. And we just talked about what each of us had found or we wished we found, so it was nice having people who could relate to you in a way that maybe you wouldn’t if you went to Korea with your friends, you wouldn’t really be able to. They wouldn’t really understand.”

The families journeyed throughout the country, stopping at famous landmarks, the cities all the adoptees were born in and other places where they could all experience the culture of the country. The tour incorporated teaching not only traditional Korean culture but also what growing up and living in the country would be like today.

“[It was] really eye-opening,” Grant said. “I just really enjoyed it. It was disappointing not getting to see my birth parents, but I got a lot out of it. I really got to get into the culture. I really want to go there for like a year for like a travel abroad during college or study abroad. I just really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait for the next time I get to go back.”