Out of a
South Korean
Orphanage and Into the World

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

Birth Year

1971

Adoption Year

1973

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 grew up speaking Korean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 didn’t get the answers I wished for, but I am more at peace with that.

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • It was like opening Pandora’s Box, this piece of paper in my 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’s not a job, but getting married that’s a challenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 am a man who should have died a long time ago, but I have a family 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 adoptive parents are Korean. I found out I was adopted 3 years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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