Out of a
South Korean
Orphanage and Into the World

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

Birth Year

1954

Adoption Year

1958

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 a different layer on life when someone chooses you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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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 know how to put it into words. I wish I could live like everyone else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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