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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • I remember walking down a dirt road in Korea, and 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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  • It wasn't until college that I started to sort out my multiple identities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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