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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 was 7 and a half when I was adopted. I was told that I had two sisters.

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

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

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

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  • For the first time, I saw other adoptees who looked a bit like 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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  • Korea never left me. Korea is inside of me. I eat, breathe, and live Korea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • In the Holt records, it says that I was left on the doorstep of a man’s house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 are Korean. I grew up speaking Korean.

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

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

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

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

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