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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 am a man who should have died a long time ago, but I have a family now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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