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

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

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

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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 most likely a foundling, left near a police station.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • The woman on the phone says, “We think we found your 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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  • I think that’s why God gave me my daughter, so I wouldn't be alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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