Based on their past, Kirk and Cahn are working to build bridges and reconnect families. Their organization, Sea2C, or SEA (South East Asian) Coast2Coast Foundation, works to reconnect adoptees from the war in Vietnam with their birth families and provide emotional healing for active-duty U.S. military personnel and Veterans. On this episode, the Co-founder/President and Board Member share a little bit about their backgrounds and the inspiration of their work that is based on their own experiences.
Kirk Kellerhals is the Co-founder and President of Sea2C, or the SEA (South East Asian) Coast2Coast Foundation. Kirk spent the first 48 years of his life believing that his birth parents were killed in the Vietnam War. In 2017, on a whim, Kirk submitted to a DNA test simply to learn more about his true ethnicity which led him to the discovery of his birth mother and father, whom were both alive and well and living in the US, and birth siblings he didn’t know existed. Since then, Kirk has reconnected with his birth family and in 2019, his life came full circle when he returned to Vietnam and reconnected with his Vietnamese relatives as well as two Catholic nuns who cared for him at the orphanage.
Canh Oxelson is a Board Member at Sea2C. Canh has been involved in the Vietnamese adoptee community for almost 20 years. Periodically, he is asked to speak at events and share his adoption story and his search for identity. In 2020, a DNA test revealed that his biological mother is alive in Vietnam and still lives only 10 minutes from the Sacred Heart Orphanage. Canh is looking forward to the day when he can reconnect with his birth mother. In the meantime, he’s enjoying getting to know his half-sister and her family who now live in the United States. Canh host and narrates “Intersections”, the documentary-style series produced by the SEA2C production team and serves as SEA2C’s spokesperson.
Interested in other Asian American organizations and their stories? Check out Episode7 featuring CEO Connie Chung of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles.