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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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