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 was 7 and a half when I was adopted. I was told that I had two sisters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 adoptive parents are Korean. I grew up speaking Korean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 walking down a dirt road in Korea, and crying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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