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How Gap helped me find my birth family

PeopleNathan Sung Budziak, Banana Republic Factory StoreComment

As Asian-Pacific American Heritage month comes to a close, I wanted to share a personal story of serendipity. My work as a Gap Inc. employee helped me connect with my birth family and my Asian heritage.

In the Fall of 2010, work sent me to China to help roll out the first Gap stores in Beijing.  For three months, I was absorbed in our “Let’s GAP Together” campaign and in the power of blending cultures.  The experience sparked a hunger and curiosity to learn more of my own mixed background. I’m a Korean-American, international adoptee, and for 27 years only knew one set of parents.

I arrived back in California, and my jetlag hadn’t even worn off, when I fired off a late night e-mail to the Holt International Adoption Agency. Five days later, a response came as a shock.  I didn’t expect any reply at all, let alone, one from a social-worker in Seoul, South Korea stating that the agency found my birth family… yes, family.

I got back on a plane to Seoul, South Korea, where I visited my birth parents, and two sisters.  It’s a complicated and emotional story covered by the Chosun news, but here's the brief version. When I was born, my birth father was expected to die of liver cancer. Money was tight.  My mother told a lie that I had passed away at birth, so my father would not feel guilty about leaving us during his final days.  But, he survived and pushed through college, and graduate school in memory of a son he thought he would never meet.   

I can’t put into words the emotions each of us is going through. But, I can honestly say that none of this would have happened if my work didn't open my mind and support me in this journey.  “Let’s GAP Together” may seem like a marketing campaign. But for me, it really is a symbol of bringing East and West together as one.