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 want to be as good a parent as my mom was for me. I’ll try my hardest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • We have to stop turning ourselves into victims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 adoptive parents are Korean. I grew up speaking Korean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Why is Korea still sending children for adoption abroad?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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