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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • I never really discussed racism with my parents. I didn't want to relive 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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  • I am a man who should have died a long time ago, but I have a family now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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