Korean American Adoptee Inspires With Incredible Life Story Filled With Second Chances

Korean American adoptee Eric McDaniel shared his inspiring, roller coaster life story in a Ted Talk event with Woosong University.

Born in South Korea, Eric’s biological parents did not have much to offer him, so he was exposed to a difficult life from a young age.

One day, his dad put him up for adoption. He spent his days in the orphanage cleaning bathrooms until he was flown to America to meet the family who had adopted him.

The extreme fear he felt caused him to kick and scream at first, but he calmed down after his American mother showed him a photo album of their house and family.

I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew exactly what was given to me—a second chance. A family.

— Eric McDaniel

He learned to embrace the hatred that he felt inside to propel himself to be happy. He took the racism that he experienced growing up as fuel to be joyful. After all, he understood their feelings of hate.

I understood those people who did it to me. I understood that hate. Embrace the hate in order to understand true joy.

— Eric McDaniel

Growing up, Eric was motivated by his difficult experiences in the orphanage to succeed in life, earning scholarships in both baseball and academics. Incredibly, he was even featured in an article for pitching a baseball using his left and right hand. He was the first Korean American adoptee to accomplish this feat.

After his American father was tragically diagnosed with terminal cancer, he made the decision to defer his scholarships and move back to Kansas city to be with him. He found it difficult to cope with the misfortunes in his life, and he fell into severe depression.

It was in his new university that he met his first Korean friend, who taught him about Korean culture, food, and dramas.

The encounter reminded him of memories from his childhood that he had forgotten. After looking through paperwork, he discovered that he had a half brother and sister that he never knew of. He sold his possessions and moved to Korea to find his family.

With the help of his Korean adoption agency, he was able to meet his biological parents a few months later. He learned that his dad was a gang member, and his mom left his dad after she was stabbed by him.

He found out that, like him, his half siblings were also abandoned and put up for adoption, so it became his new goal to give them a second chance. He wanted them to see that someone of their blood was searching for them.

Knowing that, he had to forgive his parents and seek their help. His father, however, magnified the difficulty of the search by hiding pictures of his siblings.

Meanwhile, in the twelve years he lived in Korea, his career flourished. He became a successful event planner, opened a Korean restaurant with his older brother from America, and started playing independent baseball.

After twelve years spent waiting for his dad to show him the pictures, he was finally able to get his hands on them.

Finally, just this past December, a fateful Facebook post with the pictures attached enabled him to find his siblings. They video called each other for the first time on Christmas day.

With his half siblings found, he noted that this is an opportunity for his dad to change his ways.

But there’s another second chance here as well. My father. He now has a chance to be a better father, to be a better person. Is he gonna do it? The question still remains.

— Eric McDaniel

Ending his talk, he wanted listeners to know that second chances are rare, so when they appear, they shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Second chances come in numerous different ways, and usually, these second chances come when something bad happens. Right? So if a second chance ever comes your way, maybe it’s in the form of getting that business opportunity, but you’re too scared to do it, or you have a fight with your mom, dad, or siblings, and your pride takes over.

Whatever it is, just know, second chances come very rarely. And when they do, work hard for it, because when a second chance comes knocking on your door, what are you going to do?

— Eric McDaniel

Hear Eric McDaniel’s complete story in the full video below.

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