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

Explore stories by ▾

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • What I had been looking for in my birth mom, I found when my son was born.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • Because I’ve chosen to become a single mother, I think about my birth mother a lot.

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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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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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