Out of a
South Korean
Orphanage and Into the World

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

Birth Year

1970

Adoption Year

1982

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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