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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  • I don’t know how to put it into words. I wish I could live like everyone else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 are Korean. I found out I was adopted 3 years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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