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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • I did 23andMe. My second cousin on my birth father's side contacted 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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  • 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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  • It’s important for me to share, to encourage others who’ve been victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • What if I find out something I don't want to know? That scares 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 learned that I was incredibly lucky to have grown up in Denmark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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