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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into 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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  • I was the baby—the first choice to give up for adoption. I understand that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • 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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  • What I’ve learned through my faith in the Lord, is that it happened for a reason.

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • My mother simply asked me, “Would you like to go 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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  • My mom’s comment to me was, “You should be dating your own kind.”

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

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

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

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