Out of a
South Korean
Orphanage and Into the World

My adopting father told me he met my mother, and he negotiated with her.

Birth Year

1954

Adoption Year

1958

Adoptive Country

United States

A documentary
film project by
Glenn Morey and
Julie Morey

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  • Birth Year+
    • 1940s
    • 1950s
    • 1960s
    • 1970s
    • 1980s
    • 1990s
  • Gender+
    • Female
    • Male
  • Adoption Year+
    • Less Than 2
    • 2-6
    • More Than 6
  • Adoptive Country+
    • Australia
    • Denmark
    • France
    • Netherlands
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • United States
  • Aged out of Orphanage+
    • Yes
    • No
  • Subject Matter+
    • Being Mixed Race
    • Have Contacted Biological Family
    • Being Mothers and Fathers
  • Clear Filterx
  • 7 countries
  • 6 languages
  • 16 cities
  • 100 stories

An international journey through the personal memories and experiences of abandonment, relinquishment, orphanages, aging out, and inter-country adoption from South Korea

 
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  • I want to be as good a parent as my mom was for me. I’ll try my hardest.

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  • My mom told me herself that I was born on the floor at home.

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  • Our extended relatives made it clear. My sister and I were “add-ons.”

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  • I am a man who should have died a long time ago, but I have a family now.

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  • My biological father is standing there, leaning over a motorcycle.

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  • It was an unspeakable act. I wanted to forget it. But I couldn’t.

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  • My oldest son got me a DNA test, and it stated I’m 100% Japanese.

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  • If I wasn’t adopted, I’d be working a rice field. I’m not really an outdoor guy.

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  • I see a lot of Chinese babies who are adopted. We kind of blazed a trail.

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  • I enjoy traveling. When you travel, you’re not supposed to belong.

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  • My adoptive parents loved me so much, before they even had me.

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  • What if I find out something I don't want to know? That scares me.

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  • I remember looking in the mirror, trying to see what made me a target.

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  • Korea never left me. Korea is inside of me. I eat, breathe, and live Korea.

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  • My college essay was called “My Lucky Number”— my case number, K90821.

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  • I don’t remember much, except the crying—all those unhappy children.

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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  • What I had been looking for in my birth mom, I found when my son was born.

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  • I learned how to pronounce my Korean name, and realized that it’s beautiful.

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  • My teacher told the class, “This is her last day. She’s going to America.”

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  • Because I’ve chosen to become a single mother, I think about my birth mother a lot.

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  • God, why am I here? Why did you put me in this household?

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  • Maybe even more as an adoptee, I’m afraid of losing my parents.

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  • If I were to be given another life, I would want to receive parental love.

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  • In the Holt records, it says that I was left on the doorstep of a man’s house.

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  • My facility experience has made me tough. I don’t cry over small things.

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  • My birth mother has remarried, and her husband can’t know that I exist.

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  • I meet facility alumni. Some are successful, some have gone astray.

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  • I got married after my husband promised me he’d never mention my past.

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  • It was like opening Pandora’s Box, this piece of paper in my hands.

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  • I don't talk much about growing up in an orphanage—my darkest moment.

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  • I don’t know how to put it into words. I wish I could live like everyone else.

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  • I remember, vividly, the morning my mother gave us up. She was crying.

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  • I’m grateful, truly, to be alive today. That’s why I tell my story.

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  • When I met my birth mom, it wasn't under the best circumstances.

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  • It’s not a job, but getting married that’s a challenge.

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  • I was 7 and a half when I was adopted. I was told that I had two sisters.

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  • My mom’s comment to me was, “You should be dating your own kind.”

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  • Adoption includes the first family. The child did not appear from nowhere.

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  • I have chosen to see adoption as a part of my life, not the driver.

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  • My mother simply asked me, “Would you like to go to America?”

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  • I think that’s why God gave me my daughter, so I wouldn't be alone.

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  • All of a sudden, I saw real Koreans, who weren’t speaking Danish.

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  • I did a total 180 from not hanging out with Asians, making up for lost time.

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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  • My biological parents wanted us to be together with a Christian family.

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  • When I married, I hid my history. Afterwards, the truth became known.

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  • As a child, I often dreamt about what I saw the night I was abandoned.

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  • I didn’t have problems during childhood. I am who I am, Dutch Korean.

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  • For the first time, I saw other adoptees who looked a bit like me.

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  • Yeah, I’m black and Korean. But first and foremost, I’m black.

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  • Five Korean adoptees getting together, then 12, 15, 20, hundreds.

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  • I learned that I was incredibly lucky to have grown up in Denmark.

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  • My earliest memories are of living in one room with my birth mother.

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  • Would I have been better off in Korea? I think the answer is always, no.

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  • Mild curiosity grew into a need to connect with adoptees and Korean-Americans.

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  • My adoptive parents are Korean. I found out I was adopted 3 years ago.

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  • In Korea, I can feel the way people look at me, and I lose confidence.

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  • I miss Korea and my birth family. It’s a sadness that I carry with me.

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  • She gave me a ring she was wearing and said, “We have the same hands.”

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  • We always felt we were Danish children, with Danish values and norms.

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  • I’ve been homeless 15 times, from 1987 to the present—5 years in NYC.

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  • I feel my friends hold the concept of finding birth parents closer than I do.

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  • That pain never goes away. I take my pain, and I put anger over it.

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  • It took my birth father 35 years of searching. He finally found me 3 years ago.

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  • I was the baby—the first choice to give up for adoption. I understand that.

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  • I remember walking down a dirt road in Korea, and crying.

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  • I sold hard taffy, physical labor. Those jobs were my ticket to survival.

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  • There’s no information about me, my birth, my family in Korea. Nothing.

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  • The email said, “We found your mother. You have to come to Korea now.”

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  • I didn’t get the answers I wished for, but I am more at peace with that.

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  • It’s good to feel like you can acknowledge the complexities around adoption.

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  • The woman on the phone says, “We think we found your mother.”

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  • What I’ve learned through my faith in the Lord, is that it happened for a reason.

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  • It made me embarrassed, that I had to explain my existence to other people.

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  • After that, I kind of realized…okay, I’m a child born of rape.

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  • I have both my birth family and my adoptive family, and I love them both.

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  • He puts his little hand on my face. “Momma, we have the same eyes.”

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  • I never really discussed racism with my parents. I didn't want to relive it.

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  • When I walk into a room, do people look at me and say, there’s the Asian girl?

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  • I was born to have an identity complex, being adopted and transgendered.

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  • My husband and I are both Korean. Our son inherits our Korean heritage.

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  • There’s a different layer on life when someone chooses you.

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  • My mother thinks that I’m happy all the time, not how I have struggled.

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  • It’s important for me to share, to encourage others who’ve been victims.

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  • I grew up feeling like a Martian who had arrived from outer space.

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  • A feeling of detachment, and an inability to connect with anybody.

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  • I did 23andMe. My second cousin on my birth father's side contacted me.

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  • People say my happy appearance is impressive, given my childhood.

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  • I’ll embrace the sorrow I still feel, and one day I will heal and forgive.

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  • My adoptive parents are Korean. I grew up speaking Korean.

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  • Learning Korean really made me the most in touch with being Korean.

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  • I was in the orphanage for the undesirable children. I was not adoptable.

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  • I’m most likely a foundling, left near a police station.

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  • As of today, I do not know who is telling the truth, and who is not.

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  • I ask myself a lot of questions about my ability to be a mother.

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  • Mixed-race kids were seen as human refuse, a scourge on their culture.

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  • My adopting father told me he met my mother, and he negotiated with her.

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  • An immigrant family that was unwilling to give up on an abandoned orphan.

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  • It wasn't until college that I started to sort out my multiple identities.

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