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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • What I’ve learned through my faith in the Lord, is that it happened for a reason.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • If I wasn’t adopted, I’d be working a rice field. I’m not really an outdoor guy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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