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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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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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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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