Albuquerque man at Olympics to promote adoption
February 07, 2018 10:38 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A New Mexico man is halfway around the world after accepting a special invite to the Winter Olympics.
Not only is Jon Parshall gearing up to cheer on Team USA, but he's there supporting a bigger cause.
"I'm an American and I will always be an America, but at the same, Korea is my mother’s country," Parshall said. "I'll feel a connection to this country, always will, always have."
Parshall has lived in Albuquerque for nearly 35 years but was born in South Korea. His mom put him in an orphanage when he was 7.
"Before I went into the orphanage, life was not easy," he said. "There was always hunger. It seemed like it was always cold. It was a day to day struggle to stay warm and stay fed. It was a hard life."
He was eventually adopted by an American man in 1967. That man was a combat photographer for the military.
"And the reason he adopted us is because he saw all these things and felt like he had to do something,” Parshall said. "He also adopted my younger brother from Vietnam after he saw the same situation there."
Parshall has gone back to the orphanage he lived in several times to volunteer. Now he's back in Korea again for the Olympics after a special invite from the governor of Pyeongchang.
But as the athletes battle for gold, he and a group of 20 others are fighting a battle for Korean orphans. That's after the country has tightened restrictions on overseas adoptions, limiting chances for children to be placed in families.
They are there with the adoption program, Holt International. The organization provides adoption and child welfare services for Korean orphans and homeless children. It’s the same organization Parshall was adopted through.
"I can't say what my life would have been had I stayed there at those times in Korea, but I know with certainty it would not be anything like what I have now in America," he said.
Between meeting with lawmakers, Parshall and his team will be attending Olympic events and will be cheering from the stands during the opening ceremony. He’s hoping by going to where his life began, he can work to give other orphans a better chance at finding their happy ending.
Created: February 07, 2018 10:38 PM
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