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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 found out I was adopted 3 years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 are Korean. I grew up speaking Korean.

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