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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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