Abandoned But Not Forgotten

Cover Image from Bethany Christian Services

Written By Ryan Zies, USA


What if… someone didn’t care about you anymore?

What if someone left you?

What if someone disowned you?

What if your mother who gave birth to you disappeared from your life without a trace?


I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled with this word. It’s a word that stands out boldly on one of my birth documents. The word “abandoned” is defined as, “Left without needed protection, care, or support. ​Left by the owner, no longer held or thought of​.”


Image from Bethany Christian Services


All of this is true in my story, but I think the part I’ve had to wrestle with the most is where it says, “No longer held or thought of”. . . No longer thought of? OUCH! That itself leaves a wound.

Can you imagine, a mother who carries a baby for nine months, delivers the baby through a Ceasarean-section, and then never thinks of the baby again? I find it hard to believe that my birth mother has never thought of me since November 13, 1984. In fact, I believe wholeheartedly that she has thought of me, and the decision she made.

Nevertheless, my story begins with “abandonment.” It is part of my story, but it is not where it ends. Being left in a clinic outside Seoul, South Korea on November 13, 1984, is just a detail in the overall story that God had laid out before I could even breathe.


Ryan Zeis’ original birth certificate (Image from Ryan Zies)


The Hard Choice for Life

In Seoul, South Korea, at the time, abortion was culturally acceptable. There were over 500,000 abortions and just over 650,000 actual births. This meant every time a child was conceived, the child only had a 57 per cent chance of actually being born. I survived the 43 per cent abortion rate.

On November 13, 1984, my birth mother gave birth in a clinic outside of Seoul. She abandoned me onsite, leaving no trace or record of who she was. My official hospital paperwork says, “After the natural mother gave birth to the baby at the above-mentioned clinic (Dongin Clinic in Songnae-don, Kangdon-gu, Seoul City), she covered her tracks. The clinic tried to get in contact with the natural parents, but she left in vain.”

I was placed for adoption.


A Long Journey Home

But before all of this—before me—on the other side of the world, in a nearly all-Caucasian, small suburban town outside of Chicago, God was already crafting the details of my story.

Jeff and Sally, high school sweethearts and married at the ages of 18 and 20, found themselves for years trying to have children, but unsuccessful. Only after Sally overheard a co-worker talk about adoption, did they find Bethany Christian Services in Chicago, Illinois. Even with hope dwindling and family members advising against adopting a baby from another race, they persevered through and decided to adopt. While they were applying and submitting their adoption paperwork, on the other side of the world, I was conceived. God knew I was going to be Jeff and Sally’s child, and was aligning the steps for it to happen.

On February 14, 1985 (Valentine’s Day), I flew from Seoul, South Korea to Chicago, Illinois, at just three months old. The processes were simpler back then. The adoption agencies, Bethany Christian Services and Holt International, placed me and other babies on a plane in South Korea with two bracelets—one with hospital information and the other with the adoptive parents’ names on it. We then flew the almost 13-hour flight to Chicago only attended to and fed by co-traveling businessmen and flight attendants.

When the plane landed in Chicago, my mother and four other mothers boarded the plane to find the baby with a matching identification bracelet, and meet their children for the first time.

My mom always says I’m the greatest Valentine’s gift she has ever received. Every year she still writes me a card and sends a gift to celebrate my “Homecoming Day.” My adoption story is truly an amazing and beautiful story, but it points to a bigger story—a story of even greater love, purpose and forethought.


Jeff and Sally with baby Ryan (Image from Ryan Zies)


The Hand That Holds Us All

I’ve come to realize in this life that our God has a destiny and purpose for each of His children. He protected me when I was conceived and growing in the womb.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)

The story behind my conception and my birth mother’s pregnancy will probably never be known. But what will always be known, is how God had His hand upon my life. He gave my birth mother courage to protect and save my life at a time where she easily could’ve been part of the 43 per cent having abortions. In His sovereignty, she endured nine months of pregnancy, pain, lost hours of sleep, emotional attachment, psychological tear, and physical altercations in order to have me. Given her inability to raise and support me in life, she also made the decision to give me up for adoption.

She gave me up for a better life. She gave me a chance.

Easily, my life story could have been about being left—abandoned—at that clinic in South Korea. But I was left for something greater. I was left to fulfill God’s purpose for my life.Matthew 22:37 sums up our purpose, where Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Seeing how God took a situation full of unmet expectations, sorrow, struggle and pain on all sides, but redeemed it to make it a story of being chosen and belonging, allows me to live with the freedom of knowing that God can use any circumstance to bring life and display His purpose. As I walk through my life now, I remember that I am “uniquely and wonderfully made” for a specific purpose on this earth. Everything I experience is part of that journey, and I trust God will use it for His glory.

For whoever is reading this, please know this truth: This world will try to tell you who you are. You might be tempted to look at your circumstances and experience to figure out what to believe or how to live.

But I want you to know that God sees you. He knows you. You are not alone. He has known you since the beginning of your life. Circumstances will tempt you to take your eyes off the One who holds you in His hand, but when you truly trust your heavenly father, nothing can hold your true identity captive. You are loved. You are cherished. You are His child. He will never leave you. He’s sitting next to you this very moment, and that is who you are.


Image from Bethany Christian Services


Watch the video on Ryan’s adoption story here

See Ryan’s website, “Destined & Purposeful” , to read more stories of abandonment and adoption!


Editor’s Note: Do you have a similar story to Ryan’s? Share with us in the comments section below!

Has God Abandoned Me?

Written By Lee HE, Singapore

Have you ever felt God was withholding everything good from you? Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I definitely have.

Although I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, I went to a mission school and always believed in the existence of God. I was used to people telling me that God will always be there for me. But I didn’t feel that way in recent years.

I had entered into one of the worst junior colleges (JC) in Singapore. I fell out with my classmates because of some miscommunication. My then-boyfriend also left me. My life was falling apart.

I felt so abandoned by God. I was suicidal, and would lock myself in my bedroom every day thinking of ways to kill myself. I wanted to jump out of my window or overdose on pills but I didn’t have the courage to end my life.

I knew I needed time to “fix” myself. So, despite objections from my family members, I took matters into my own hands and dropped out of school to take a gap year.

It didn’t help that I was going to be baptized in a few weeks. Given my emotional and psychological state, I did not want to go ahead initially. But I decided to bite the bullet. After all, I was already in the last few sessions of Baptism Preparation class and I didn’t want to redo the class in the future.

Although my decision to be baptized was not motivated by the sincere intention to declare myself as a born-again Christian, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As part of the baptism process, I had to appoint my own godparents who would be in-charge of my spiritual well-being. Not only did I gain a new spiritual family, my godparents helped me to grow as a Christian.

During my gap year, I took up a stint as an admin assistant in the same company as my godfather. Whenever I got to work with him directly or when we went out for lunch, he would always share with me Bible stories and explain the meaning behind them.

One of the ladies at work whom I was close to was also a Christian. She repeatedly reassured me that if God wanted to open doors for me, He would. Hearing that from her convicted me of the reality of God and brought me to tears.

That was when my heart started to soften. I started to understand that God hadn’t forsaken me like I had initially thought. If God didn’t care about me, He wouldn’t have bothered to place these people in my life.

A year later, I reluctantly enrolled into a Chinese Media & Communication Diploma course at a local polytechnic. Although my command of the Chinese language wasn’t too bad, I hated it and really dreaded entering into the course. I really wanted to go to a JC badly since I felt it would increase my chances of qualifying for local universities.

Again, it wasn’t a smooth-sailing for me in polytechnic as I struggled with the language. And because I wasn’t very interested in the language, I didn’t make a lot effort to improve. I also struggled with working with my group members for projects.

Nonetheless, God didn’t give up on me. During one of my deepest and darkest moments, God revealed Exodus 14:14 to me, which said: “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” I learned that I did not have to be anxious or discouraged when the situation seemed hopeless because God had my interests at heart.

And God started to open doors and opportunities in my life. The first was helping me figure out what my passion was, through a particularly inspiring journalism lecturer. As she shared her stories, I realized I wanted to be like her. I dreamed of being a war correspondent, to cover the lives of those affected and give them a voice on the global platform.

The second was giving me a six-month internship at a local English newspaper publication, which I ended up staying for a year. Coming from a Chinese language course, I initially thought my chances were slim so I was literally jumping for joy when I found out I was selected.

God also gave me great friends during my time in polytechnic, especially those from Campus Crusade for Christ. They blessed me immensely, showing me love in many ways—by helping me out with my studies, or lending a listening ear or even just fellowship.

Through my own life experience, I’ve come to understand the saying: “When God closes one door, he opens another.” Despite closing all the doors that I wanted, He led me to walk another path and live another life—a life I never thought I would. Although it seemed as though He had taken away everything I thought I deserved, He actually had given me so much more.