Out of a
South Korean
Orphanage and Into the World

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

Birth Year

1970

Adoption Year

1982

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 loved me so much, before they even had me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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