The Voice of Adoption logo

Out of a South Korean Orphanage: Glenn Morey’s Story About Finding His Voice and Creating a Documentary

While conducting pre-interviews for his new film project–Side by Side: Out of a South Korean Orphanage and Into the World--Glenn was blown away by the amount of Korean adoptees who had a very real need to speak of their full experience.

More than 100 interviews later, most of which averaged an hour each, Glenn has used his cinematic acumen to capture a picture as skillful as it is important.

Glenn discovers the vast desire for a voice in this adoptee community and an intense hunger from others to be heard. He pulls not only from that pool of similar adoption experiences, but shares the story of his own life as well. 

What follows is an impactful perspective that should be recognized and voiced. The majority of adoptees of the ‘closed adoption era’ generation have struggled to find their identity amidst it all, and any medium that allows for these stories to be told not only helps adoptees, but provides a clear and comprehensive picture of adoption as well.

Prioritizing Discussions About Racial Identity 

As Glenn reminds us, no adoptee’s story starts with their adoption. And to erase, ignore, or close the door on discussing your child’s cultural roots can lead to a suppression of identity. 

Instead, a child should be celebrated in every way! Culturally, physically, their personality…you name it!

Even though, yes, it can be difficult to find the courage to broach the subject on ethnicity and cultural identity, it is still one of the most important aspects of a positive adoption experience for your child.

For example, Glenn didn’t fully accept until his adulthood that he wasn’t actually white but South Korean. Not from an intellectual or obvious way, but from the complex, developmental way he was taught to culturally self-reference.

When retelling the story about getting his driver’s license, he remembers vividly how adamantly he stuck to his perception about the color of his hair. When asked the typical driver’s license questions about his height, weight, eye color, and hair color, he responded with information that his adoptive mother had told him. This meant that despite having black hair, he was always told it was  brown. It wasn’t until he was told counter to his beliefs that he actually noticed that yes, his hair was black.

The narrative that Glenn knew was one that designed to bring the conversation to a close. Instead of leaving the door open on fully understanding his cultural heritage, he was left with a very narrow narrative.

The Narrative of the Closed Adoption Era 

It took a while for Glenn to realize that his experience was actually a sort of cliche, as he put it, that there were so many South Korean-American adoptees who shared similar stories. 

They were told to abide by the sentiment that “you should only be grateful for the conditions you escaped in South Korea”, they never found the reinforcement to share their struggles or find peace with their identity.

When considering the approach of the times, assimilating into the culture meant forgetting and not talking about the past for international adoptees.

Glenn’s ‘Side by Side’ project is all about letting this generation of adoptees, who have never shared their story with anyone before, have a voice. What a difference he is making so far!!


If you enjoyed this episode, please leave comments and feedback. We’d love to hear from you!

Prefer a different app? Add this: