Out of a
South Korean
Orphanage and Into the World

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

Birth Year

1971

Adoption Year

1973

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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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • My adoptive parents are Korean. I found out I was adopted 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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  • All of a sudden, I saw real Koreans, who weren’t speaking Danish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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