can lead to riches, fame or a new girlfriend. They can lead to a job, a life or
an appearance on the Today show. But Toby Dawson hopes his leads to something
else--his birth parents.
Left on the front
stoop of a police station as a toddler and then placed in an orphanage in
Seoul, Toby was adopted at age three by two Vail ski instructors, Deb and Mike
Dawson. They had him skiing by four. He was beating them down the mountain by
In those days he
never thought about being the only Asian kid in powder-white Vail. Never
wondered who his blood parents might be. Never wanted to know, even though his
brother, K.C.--also adopted--flew to Seoul 10 years ago and met his. Toby hated
hearing about that meeting. The man in Korea wanted K.C. to call him father.
Nuh-uh. No way.
Whether it was
fear of the unknown or love of his adopted parents, Dawson showed no curiosity
about the subject. Didn't ever go by his Korean middle name--Soo Chul.
Complained when his parents dragged him to Korean Heritage Camp. Didn't want to
be anything other than "a blond-haired, blue-eyed regular American
kid," he says. "All I cared about was skiing."
Problem was, Toby
(Awesome) Dawson got too good. Started winning World Cup events in the
freestyle moguls. Pretty soon the planet started noticing him. And people sure
as hell noticed he wasn't blond-haired and blue-eyed.
I'm your father,
Koreans e-mailed. I'm your mother. I'm your cousin.
response was always the same: Get bent. "I think he was blocking it
out," says Deb. "Which was too bad. Because his dream was the Olympics,
but mine was that the Olympics would be how he'd find his parents."
happened. Asked to return to the Korean Heritage Camp he so hated as a kid, he
went and discovered something within himself. Suddenly he wanted to know who he
was. "There was such a buzz with the kids there," he recalls. "A
lot of them had already found their birth parents. Some of the stories were
One of the
stories he heard was my daughter's.
We adopted Rae at
four months, and she was the anti-Toby. She thought constantly about her birth
mother, who had to be a princess. Or a movie star.