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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • I want to be as good a parent as my mom was for me. I’ll try my hardest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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