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

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

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

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

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  • For the first time, I saw other adoptees who looked a bit like 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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  • After that, I kind of realized…okay, I’m a child born of rape.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • In the Holt records, it says that I was left on the doorstep of a man’s house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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