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

Explore stories by ▾

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 get the answers I wished for, but I am more at peace with that.

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • Learning Korean really made me the most in touch with being 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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  • My adoptive parents loved me so much, before they even had me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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