THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION

THE KOREAN WAR BABY

My name is Don Gordon BELL and I am one of the earliest of the first generation of KAD's (Korean ADoptees). The Korean War had been settled by Armistice three years before I left war-torn Seoul, Korea, on May 21, 1956. It was the first plane of twelve 'war babies' processed thru the Harry Holt Adoption Program. Read more of MY STORY on My Pages.
I grew up in a typical middle-class family of English-Scottish roots in greater Los Angeles, Ca, USA. Memories faded, Korean language was 'lost' and I did not know anything about the country of my birth until I met Korean Marines in Vietnam while serving with the US Marines. It was my first exposure to real Korean people. I was not completely aware of how prejudiced most Koreans thought towards a Half-Breed like me. I learned what "Tuigi" meant, a Korean word for a "Child of a Foreign devil". Oh, wonderful.


All my life I always had to answer the question: "What ARE you?" and I simply would tell 'my story'. It was not a big deal for me, for my Adoptive Parents had taught me that being an American meant that WE were from many countries. I never 'wished to be White' and just learned to stand up for my own identity. MY Identity was as an American, with mixed heritage. I did not know what being "Korean" meant but often wondered about my roots, and what my birth father's ethnicity. Mexican, Native Americans, and Spanish people would tell me that I had their 'genes' for sure. Little did I know they were right!

After college, I traveled to Manila and for ten years I lived in the Philippines. I was excepted as a 'mestizo' and fit into the former Spanish colony. I was a B-movie Character Actor,
working on international and local films, enjoying a 'crazy and wild' abandonment. Then a life changing experience gave me faith in a personal Higher Being. After walking away from the film business, I lived back in the USA, not sure of my direction in life finding work in construction, finish carpentry, door hanging, and many other jobs I'd like to forget.

In 1991, at 38, I attended a Holt Heritage Camp that was a great experience and really began my own journey of Adoption Identity search. I had never thought much of my Korean culture, though I always felt proud of being "HALF-Korean" and "half-Something".

In 1994 I came back to Seoul, Korea, with my church Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and was invited to stay with a church in East Seoul, for one year. I have lived here since late 1995- re-discovering my "Korean-ness", teaching English and telling my Adoption Story to thousands of Korean students of all ages, helping their understanding of Korean Adoptees. It is one of the issues that Korea is now facing, even for its own secretly adopted children, those who were adopted IN-Country by Koreans who desired a family but due to problems with Infertility secretly adopt.

I was a charter member in 1997 (first dozen members) of GOA'L (Global Overseas Adoptees' Link, founded by Ami Nafzger) and continue to be involved with the complex issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Thousands of KADs have visited Korea over the years, searching for their culture and Some search for birth family. Seventy-five thousand have come, yet only 2,400 plus have found Reunion with Birth family, often with varying results. There are many complexities, many don't want to search concerned about offending their Adoptive Families. Each KAD must decide what they want to do, when to do it, etc.


At 61, I am still 'working thru' my Adoption Identity. Each of YOU need to 'work through' your own understanding and hopefully find forgiveness and healing. Read many different accounts and compare before coming to conclusions. I hope that you will learn what IS happening NOW, in the land of your birth, the Rep. of Korea (South Korea). (See Report Links).

Times are changing, the reasons for 'relinquishment for adoption' have shifted, but there continues to be a need for a multi-tiered approach and understanding of Adoption issues. Slowly, attitudes of Korean society ARE changing for the better. But, the majority continue to feel embarrassment and shame. Thus, Adoption is still shrouded in secrecy even for those who are adopted In-country. There ARE positive signs and movements of NGO's and KAD groups are advocating for the Unwed Mothers. However, two-thirds of pregnant women each year, continue to give up their babies for adoption. One out of four are sent overseas, YET three are secretly adopted in-country. The Myth that "Koreans don't adopt" is false, but they need to open up and hopefully change their shame to pride.


This blog is for EVERYONE, whether you are an Adoptee, Adoptive Family, Birth Family or involved in Adoption in ANY way as a professional, social worker, official, etc, from Korea or the world. We examine the complex issues and personal journeys that we, domestic and overseas adoptees, have to face and sort out in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. (Use the Ligit Search function (Left Column) to check for Posts on various topics, TransRacial, TranCultural, MultiCultural families, Domestic, Civil Code Law Adoptions, InterCountry Adoption, etc.)
I personally have come to a compromised, nuanced position on this thing of ours-adoption. I advocate a Multi-tiered Plan that tries to be balanced, realistic, fair to all.

UPDATE: Living in the Philippines since 2010, at first teaching students from several countries as an Online Tutor, based in Makati, Metro Manila. I was working on a Digital Library for Online Tutoring or ELearning; developing an agritourism farm; and Overseas Retirement Care for foreigners needing 24/7 health care.

Then some 18 months ago, in July of 2012 I met with Andrew Leavold, a crazy film obsessed Aussie who helped "pull me back into film making".

WHEW! Lot on my plate. I have also been learning much about the Filipino society's very different viewpoints on unwed motherhood and adoption.

Latest: As of Sept. 2012, I worked on an Indie Film, "Baybayin, the Palawan Script", directed by Auraeus Solito, and international award winning Filipino director. I had a role in the film and explored my hobby as a STILLS Photographer. Currently I have quit all teaching, co-writing on an international film that will be done in 3D and CGI effects. I am back in the film-making business and I love it.

Adoption Discourse needs to hear YOUR VOICE. Every opinion, even opposing viewpoints will be posted and interaction invited by email and Comments have been activated again with spam filters!)
. Welcome, come learn, and share your thoughts.


May 31, 2009

Stop Giving me Patience, Lord!

Latest on my appearing on "Gui Sarami Pogo Ship Da" "그 사람이 보고 싶다", or "The Person I am wanting to See", the KBS-1 program has informed me that June will be busy. They still promise to try and get me on in JULY. Did somebody ask GOD to give me patience? Stop already. Never ask God for 'patience' because then He will give you lots of opportunities to have to be patient.

But what can I say? I MUST let others who are in the country for only a short time have their chance. Those who have a much better chance at investigation and reunion also have the more interesting 'story'. This is the way programs work, unfortunately, that is 'show business'. So I have a much smaller audience on the cable channel TVN but they are going all out to present my case. Perhaps it will not be necessary for me to be on KBS-1? That would be interesting.

I don't have all the notes from the translater from the Hypnosis session or Mudang's meeting yet but here are some interesting "Facts" that can only be proven to be true IF it is true. I post them here for the record, stating again that even I am reserving judgements on whether my memories are real or fantasy. Are they mixed actual memories overlaid with learned facts about the Korean War, US Army units that I know about through study, I cannot tell exactly. Here are just some of the basic points:
Fact or Fiction?
  • Name of Birth mother: JUN Soon Hee (Hypnosis- I remembered/Mudang- told me name)
  • Mother's age: Hypnosis- Early twenties Mudang- mother was 22
  • Birth Father's Name: Hypnosis-Eduardo Evangelista Mudang-no name but 35 years old
  • Birth Father had the patches of the 25th Division and the 27th Regiment (Wolfhounds) on his uniform. I 'saw' his last name Evangelista over his right breast pocket. He was called "Top" which would be a high ranking Enlisted Non-Commissioned Officer or NCO of the rank of E-8 a Master Sargeant or 1st Sargeant.
  • Mother had long hair, slight build, very pretty, medium height
  • Mother fled from Seoul when lost second time to Taegu. Scenes were possibly during 1951 (Mudang said I am one year older than my birthdate.)
  • Taegu: mother and I were in a house near a river, open market very close. Saw sign, US Base of 8th Army, 25th Division, 27 th Regiment (Wolfhounds). Mother sold US goods on the Blackmarket and later had MahJeong Chinese gambling in a house in HaybangCheong, overlooking the Yongsan 8th Army Headquarters. I had some DejuVu experiences when I first went on the base, and from the apartment of my Canadian friend Mike.
  • Pohang base: We stayed in barracks near the docks.
  • Yongsan base: Apartment seems like it was in HayBangCheong, overlooking the Yongsan base of the 8th Army Headquarters, Itaewon.
  • Mother had short 50's hairstyle, wore only western dresses, high heels, makeup. She had shelves of US PX products that she sold and traded to other Korean girlfriends of American soldiers.
  • 'Sally' an older Korean friend, was her best friend.
  • Father had to go back to America, left shoebox filled with cash.
  • Mother had small baby, my sister now, and an older woman who breast-fed her. Mother was working as a singer, her family had many artists and musicians. Mudang said I too was an artist, stuntman and actor. Mother's family was very wealthy Yangban before Korean War, most were killed when Seoul was captured first time. Mother sole survivor.
  • Sally urged my mother to give us up for adoption, better for us to go to land of my father.
  • Mother took us across the Han bridge, still under repair to YoungdongPo where the World Vision Reception Center was located. I remembered arrival at gate, Harry Holt coming to us. Mother would visit according to Mudang until both of us left country.
These are just some of the details that were 'verified by the Mudang' and the producers absolutely had no way or time to tell her about my story. They say they did not give any information to her before we arrived, not even my full name. I am still trying to process everything, don't accept everything at face value, must wait and see if some or all is true.

The Mudang also said that 'I'm sorry, your mother died 12 years ago'. She seemed surprised that I showed no emotional response, and the producers also seemed puzzled, since they saw my emotional feelings during the hypnosis. I replied that I was certain from Pastors and prophetic gifted people that had never met me before that my Korean mother had become a Christian sometime in 1991, a Catholic Christian by the way. So I had peace knowing in my heart that she was waiting for me, if she were died, in heaven. In fact I asked the Mudang if she knew she would see her departed father in 'the next life'. Of course, she had to reply no, for in Shamanism and Buddhist religions the human spirit is reborn again and again. I had the assurance from the Bible that we will meet again in Heaven. I returned home from the Mudangs home in Ansan city, not far from my own apartment, strangely in peace. Perhaps my birthmother has died, but something seemed wrong, I had serious feelings that she had not yet gone across the 'river of life'.

Then on Tuesday I got another call from TVN, "Can you meet with the producers tonight? We have a second opinion from another mudang." to be continued...

May 28, 2009

To meet a Mudang, or NOT

The display at the Jeju Folk and Nature Museum...Male Shaman Mudang-via Wikipedia

Thursday evening, 11:50 PM, May 29, 2009

What a week I have had, full of unusual happenings, experiencing taping (wait, if it is digital cameras is it ‘digitizing’?) for the cable network TVN. They have a show on Mon. at noon called, are you ready for this, “Exorcist”. It is based on the fact that one of the main sources of Para-normal experts employed by the program are Hypnotherapists and the traditional Shaman priestess called Mudangs. Mudangs are usually women in Korea (80% I have read) who are really ‘spiritualists’, persons with an ability to ‘see’ into the spiritual realm. Shamanism is based on ancient practices of contact with the spirit world, the Mudang enters a semi-trance state to communicate with spirits, ancestors, and the souls of the dead.

You might wonder WHY I agreed to go on the program…I indeed really questioned myself if it was wise. I actually turned them down because of my concern about how church people might feel towards me, because I had ‘consulted a Mudang’. Then, I thought about how 12 years ago Korean churches that begged me to come and share my story were shocked that my wife was divorcing me. They knew us both from the many times we came with the Vineyard group from Los Angeles. I was visiting every week two Churches other than the one I was supported by in East Seoul. When my first wife told me, “You should stay here, but I just want to go back and live in America, I am too homesick. You stay though, Korean people want to hear you.” Less than four months later K. was married again, I learned that she had met ‘him’ while she stayed with her parents because of her brother’s murder. I was not angry, I had tried to persuade her and even offered to quit the Full Gospel Church’s university job, teaching English at Hansae University. Our marriage is first priority and I was willing to 'work it out back in America'. "No, you need to stay in Korea. I will send you the paper to sign." Got them two days later by FedEx...hmmm.

Once the churches found out that I was now a Divorced man, the pastors said that I could not teach, which I understood completely. Then, one by one they asked me to not even visit. Well, I could only agree and honored their wishes, I thought God had another plan for me, WRONG. I thought that one day I would be able to again share my amazing story of my adoption and God’s love that pulled me back from the craziness that I was known for in the Philippines before I found God.

I prayed that God would give me wisdom. The KBS-1 show seemed to be the answer, it was a bigger network, more popular, etc. So I called GOA'L and said, ‘Sorry, but No. I cannot do the show.’ They were set to begin taping three days later. Then the second time, KBS called to say ‘Sorry, maybe next week’. I called GOA'L again, and asked what they actually do on the show. I said I did not want to take part in any Shamanist ritual or Kut, but would agree to meeting with one.

Tomorrow I will post the results of the Hypnotherapy, and two Mudang meetings. There was many things that must be noted, then set aside to ‘see if that thing comes to pass’. Even hypnotherapy is fraught with uncertainty such as confusion of learned facts blending with past memories, creating a false memory that seems totally real.

One ‘fact’ to be verified, that my Korean birth mother’s name was Jun Soon Hee. Under hypnosis I seemed to recall her name, spoken by others, friends and my birth father. Soon Hee is a common name, but both Mudangs came up with the same name! Of course, the producer and staff claim that they did not reveal the name to them, but I must wait and see if it is really her name. Only IF we meet will I know if these ‘memories’ and the Mudangs are ‘Right’. Time and connecting again will prove it right.

I remain hopeful, but wary, can it be that the impossible might happen? June 15th at Noon on Monday the show will air, then I must wait and see if anyone responds. The second young man (Mudang) feels my birth mother is alive but in poor health. I prayed that God would give her good health until we could meet.

I am ‘outside looking in’ at all of this, still worried about what other might think, yet when faced with a chance to get my story on the air made me reconsider. I know that God will forgive me and protect me, it will be only by GOD design if I meet my Korean birth mother here in this life. I have had Christian pastors and those with spiritual gifts tell me that my mother became a Christian in 1991, that she was being healed of the shame of giving my sister and I up for adoption. Perhaps soon in this life, I will find out IF we meet.

My thanks for all three of my readers, keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

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May 24, 2009

Preview: Korean War Baby- the book

“Lorelei is REALLY my sister?!”



Following excerpt from future book-

Holt Family Picnic- Two Holt Heritage Camps (1990)

In 1989 I travelled to Kansas City with the Anaheim Vineyard Team, Headquarters based in Southern California, not too far from the original Disneyland. I had a great time in Kansas City, and decided on the way back to ‘pull up stakes’ and just move there to KC, Missouri (Mid-West folks say ‘Mis SOUR ra, and Arkansas is not Ark an saw but ARK….(long pause) kan sas). I was ready for a change and with no prospects in the romance section; after confessing all my past sins to everyone I met, well, duh! No wonder! Just couldn’t understand why even older divorcees ran the other way, when I talked about ‘real’ dating, one on one, not the ‘church group thing’.
This was usually after a small group meeting where I had ‘bared my soul and spilled my guts to tell the ugly truth’. Guys, DON’T do that! Confess to a priest, or simply to God, DO NOT tell people all about how “you really feel”. I thought that confession was good for the soul. Sort of ‘Chicken Soup for Misogynists’, I had the wrong belief that it would help my chances to ‘tell all’. Confessing how I had used and abused many women ("I tried to be a ‘nice’ jerk, paid more, did not physically abuse, never never said “sure, I love you”). womanized by trickery, and yes, even paid money for sex, and done somethings I will NEVER write or say, things that are unspeakable (that ought to get your minds going). Many of my fellow actors in the Philippines could tell stories about me that would get me kicked out of any country. (you guys out there, keep this between you and me, okay?). Boy, was I stupid or what? Dumb as a fence post, I just stood there scratching my head in frustration when even “plain Janes” took off in terror.
Oops, there’s that misogynistic part in me again. When one group of women in my church told me I ‘hated women’ and called me a misogynist I was, well, righteously ‘Pissed OFF’. I wanted to hit them, beat them with a stick. Oh, MY God….I realized slowly that they were right!

So one week after coming back from Kansas City, I was driving home after work when I noticed a large group of people under a banner “Holt Families Picnic”. I immediately stopped and then recognized Bertha Holt, surrounded by adoptees from many countries with their adoptive families. I introduced myself to Grandma Holt and Molly her daughter who was visiting from Korea. Grandma expressed how pleased she was to meet me, noting that I was on the very first Holt flight of 12 way back in 1956. Grandma invited me to be a counselor at Holt Heritage Camp in Eugene, Oregon or New Jersey. I said sure, and after checking the dates I figured that I could work on both camps that year. I drove up in my truck to Eugene, counseled a group of Korean adoptee boys, from ages 8 to 14 and had a great time.

Then back to L.A. to pack up all my possessions into boxes and race off to Kansas City, Missouri. I would have to sleep in the cab because there was no room in the camper shell. I had all my carpenter’s tools, power saws, compressor, nail guns, ready to look for work and mix with the Mid-West folks. Drove to Kansas City in under three days, stopping to unload my gear with a house full of guys, fellow unwed young men. I would stay with them a few months before finding another place. Rested overnight, then I took off for the New Jersey Heritage camp, arriving midmorning of the check-in day.
It was the first times, in both camps West and East, that I had seen so many Korean adoptees all together. Many looked at my ‘mixed race’ face and asked, “What are you doing here?”). Sheesh, story of my life! What ARE you? At both camps we all learned so much about our ethnic identity as Korean. Discovering cultural roots, Korean food, we made Kimchee, learned about meanings of some of our names, cooked rice in clay pots. I even taught the kids Tae Kwon Do, basic kicks and punches even a simple form. For the last day everyone broke got to break a one inch pine board. I made sure everyone did it to give them confidence. “Remember though…Boards don’t hit back”, I quoted my hero, Bruce Lee from one of his movies.

After the first camp finished at Eugene I went to Holt International Children’s Service Headquarters where I met Dr. David Kim (Kim Hyungbok), President of the Holt, USA from 1986 to 1990. He informed me in a letter before I arrived that he was not yet an ordained pastor when he served with Harry Holt as Interpreter and Right-Hand man. In the book “Bring My Sons From Afar” by Bertha Holt he was called “Kim A”. Well, Harry Holt had such trust in him that when Mr. Larson left in mid 1956, Harry shocked the foreign relief agencies by actually appointed David Hyungbok Kim as head of Holt Adoption Agency. No other relief agency would even consider Koreans capable, and one woman leader express shock, shock, "why he hasn't even finished college". This was said in the presence of David Kim, who was burning with controlled anger and embarrassment. Harry simply told her, I am confident in my decision and escorted her out of the office, returning to beg forgiveness for her remarks from young Mr. David Kim.
Now Dr. David Kim expressed to me that he was overjoyed because I was one of the earliest from the first week of March, 1956. I have vague memories, various toys that I played with; people dressed in white staring at us; flashes of but even under hypnosis when I was in college, I was not able to remember my mother’s face or name. He said again that he remembered our mother bringing my sister and I to the World Vision Reception Center, located in Youngdongpo. I thought he was confused and replied to Pres. Kim, “You mean my mother, and my sister’s mother? My family name was Jun and hers was Kim.”
He laughed and showed me her file, where a mistake was made when her Korean passport was processed, with “Jun”/全 mistakenly written as KIM/金 in Hanja, Chinese characters. Two extra strokes added turns 全into金, which Dr. David Kim noticed, thinking maybe Mr. Larson had made the error.

Wow, this was quite a surprise! I could not get my mind around this…Did we have the same mother, different fathers? After experiencing Vietnam and seeing the conditions of a war zone I could easily understand, in my mind at least, what our birthmother must have gone through, taking care of two of us. In the years of living in Korea, it has become crystal clear the prejudices and hopelessness she faced. I want her to know that I understand “WHY, she gave us up…I believe she Chose to surrender us for our own sake, and to live in a country where we could be ‘respected’.

Our Names,

全  容 秀  HanJa (Chinese Characters)   
전  용 수 Hangul (Korean)
Jun Yong Soo English (Given names are Compound so, YongSoo means ‘Face Excellent’
全 喆 安 HanJa (Chinese Characters). 喆 / 철 / Chul( 훈음 :밝을 철/ 한자: 喆)
전 철 안 Hangul (Korean) 安 / 안 (훈음 : 편안할 안/ 한자: 安)
Jun Chul An English

全 vs. 金 (See how two extra marks changes Jun to Kim)


Our birth father must have stayed with our birth mother probably until he left to go back to America. Remember, we are more than three years apart in age or conception by the same man. It was difficult for troops to marry women in Korea or Japan until later years, but many just left some extra money and abandoned their pregnant ‘girlfriends’ and any children. I must say though that thousands of US and UN troops gave lots of money to support orphanages. See http://www.koreanchildren.org

Mom remembers a ‘coincidence’.

My adoptive mother smiled as she recalled the events of my sister’s flight in December, six months after my arrival in June. My sister arrived on December 16th, on the first chartered flight by Holt with 95 children. The flight lost one engine but still had three more, so the DC-9 crew struggled to reach San Francisco, on the flight path, instead of LAX, California. I remember my new parents and older brother, Ken, with many other expectant adoptive families being informed by Holt staff that they had to drive upstate to San Francisco. After an emergency landing everyone was evacuated safely. Hours later, we found total chaos upon reaching the arrival area. Children were crying, Korean helpers trying to calm them, adoptive parents questioning the Holt staff as they tried to account for everyone. I wandered around, noticing that, “Hey, these people look like me…they can ‘talk’ my words”.

Mom and Dad both remembered that I ‘found’ my baby sister who had been crying loudly. I was holding her and she slowly stopped crying, apparently after recognizing me. We had been apart for six months but we still knew each other! My birth mother read the name tag, “Kim Chul An” (it should have been Jun Chul An) and thought 'what a coincidence' it was that I had ‘by chance’ found my new adoptive sister. We had grown up telling everyone that my family name was Jun, and my adopted sister’s family name was Kim. Yet many told us, “My, you certainly look like brother and sister”. I always joked that all Asians look alike! Mom, simply said, “Well, that’s God, for you”, not thinking it strange at all.
I have noticed that on my sister’s passport is a note folded inside on page 20, “Ent at San Francisco Loralei REGISTRATION NO. A8963887. ENTER Dec 16/56. (12-16-56) Birth 6-9-55.” You see everything was pretty hectic in the reception area and NO Immigration Stamps were done. One last thing, Dad said to Mom, “well, don’t see anyone checking names…we got our girl, let’s go”. One hour later we heard on the radio about a “frantic search for a missing unaccounted Korean orphan girl” and turned back to the airport. Doh! Everyone had gone by the time we got back to the airport, so we just drove on home and called the Holts the next day! Boy, were they relieved to find out that a baby was not ‘missing’.
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Frank Gets Birthday Present!-The Call

From Don,
This is the email that I received from my great friend and co-worker in California, Frank was a domestic adoptee, in the state of California. He just recently got his records from the hospital, posted info on Classmates.com and in just one month, two days before his 50th birthday he got THE CALL!


Franks message (edited for privacy):

"Last night I received a phone call in response to an e-mail I sent to G******* B*****, thinking that he was my birth father. He said to me, " My name is G******* B******....I am not your birth father but I have been married to your birth mother for 52 years". 

May 20, 2009

Google TRACK’s Puppet Day-Notice my Holt Heritage Camp shirt, it still fits! I know much tighter.




This is a test of Google’s Live Writer which is supposed to help in writing any blog. So, well…Oh, I AM NOT, I say again I AM NOT on television this Wed. the 20th of MAY. They had to postpone until next week again. This show 그사람 이보고 싶다 depends on the results of each session, sometimes they have a reunion on the second or third week. So I have to be patient. AAAHHHHRRRGGG! It is 3:15 AM so I gotta get some sleep. WED. will be a day off and I will prepare for my 15 min. of fame. Let’s see if this works… 
Google

May 15, 2009

Going Live on KBS-1

Well, a quick note to both of my readers, on May 20th, Wed. at 10:55-11:55 AM, our time in Korea, I will appear on live TV. The program is "Gui Sarami Pogo Ship Da" "그 사람이 보고 싶다", or "The Person I am wanting to See". It is a show that tries to find people separated by years through divorce, adoption, or one of life's mishaps and tragedies. I will post some more later this weekend. Got to run now for a class. I hope to get a copy on DVD and will post it on my video part later.

May 13, 2009

Dr. Bob Pierce recruits the Holts






















Dr. Bob Pierce was a young pastor who was deeply burdened. During the Korean War aid workers were finding thousands of children separated from their parents, most not knowing whether they were dead or alive. Families were split apart, some taken north by force, others unable to find each other in the chaos in the large cities where refugees were packed into camps. Mixed-Blood children, known as Tuigi, were showing up with their Korean mothers after being abandoned by their foreign 'boyfriends' or dying in battle. They were offspring of liaisons of Korean women and Foreign troops of the 22 United Nations. These children of war were already appearing on the streets. The half-breed or Mixed-blood children were especially despised by the conservative Confucian influenced Korean people who took pride of their pure blood and homogeneous society. Dr. Pierce co-founded World Vision with Dr. Han KyungJik as a way to get support for the children of the streets. Sponsorship programs connected donors to specific children to provide assistance.


Mrs. Harry Holt, The Seed from the East, 1956


The Holt family on the back stairs of their home in Creswell, Oregon.
This is how Bertha Holt recalled the events that led her and Harry Holt to adopt eight Korean children and facilitate the adoptions of thousands of others. The story began in 1954, when the Holt family attended a meeting in Eugene, Oregon. Bob Pierce, the president of World Vision, showed several films, spoke about the organization’s missionary efforts in Korea, and asked people in the audience to sponsor orphans for $10 per month. In addition to their shared Christian faith, the contrast between Korean racism and American tolerance was fundamental to Pierce’s appeal. Holts’ subsequent efforts continued this theme, emphasizing Americans’ special responsibility to act on behalf of the “GI babies” left behind by military men. Bertha Holt’s book concludes with a special prayer “to help the mixed-race children of Korea. Father. . .we especially plead for the negro-Korean children.” The Holts’ international adoptions, and those depicted in narratives like The Family Nobody Wanted played crucial political roles during the Cold War, addressing racial dilemmas at home as well as humanitarian crises abroad.
Then came the scenes that shattered our hearts. We saw before us the tragic plight of hundreds of illegitimate children. . .GI-babies. . .children that had American fathers and Korean mothers. . .children that had been hidden by remorseful mothers until it was no longer possible to keep their secret. Finally the children were allowed to roam the streets where they were often beaten by other children who had never known Koreans with blond hair. . .or blue eyes.
Following this documentary evidence of the shameful result of undisciplined conduct, Dr. Pierce related to the audience more of the things that he, himself, had seen. He told how he had driven a jeep by an army dump on one occasion and noticed what looked like a human form almost hidden beneath the garbage and flies. He stopped the jeep to investigate and found, beneath grime and indescribable dirt, a little boy. His skin was light. His eyes were blue. His hair was brown. He was a GI-baby. He had been left there to die.
“The Koreans are very race conscious,” Dr. Pierce said. “Mixed-race children will never be accepted into Korean society. Even the youngsters, themselves, are conscious of the difference. At a very early age they seem to sense that something is wrong.”
Dr. Pierce continued with severe criticism of the men who had turned their backs on those tiny, outstretched arms.
I looked at Harry. He was motionless and tense. I knew every scene had cut him like a knife. I was hurt, too. There is so much we have never known. We had never thought of such suffering and heartbreak. We had never heard of such poverty and despair. We had never seen such emaciated arms and legs, such bloated starvation-stomachs and such wistful little faces searching for someone to care. . . .
To Harry and me had been allotted ten orphans. . .all from an orphanage near Taegu. They were divided evenly—five girls and five boys. The folders described them as being in good health. None were blind or crippled. None were mixed-race children. Their ages ranged from three to fourteen. The youngest and the oldest were both girls. Their parents had either been killed during the war or had succumbed to disease following the war.
We especially enjoyed the letters that came with the pictures. They were composed of carefully written characters placed horizontally across the page. Since the numbers are the same as ours we recognized the date of the writing (12/15/1954). The letters of the pre-school children were written by older children who lived in the orphanages with them.
Kim Un Lyon’s letter was typical of those received.
“Dear My Sponsor, How are you getting along who are thousands of miles away? I am well and study hard with the help of God and Jesus Christ, our Lord, and your favor. Nowadays in Korea the winter has come and snowstorms are falling. I am very curious to know about the weather in the country where you are living. I am very happy when I think that my letter will be answered, after it is read by you, and I don’t know what to do. Indeed I am very happy. Hoping your good care and love. Bye for now. Kim Un Lyon.”
We all read our letters aloud. We loved each one. . . .
More and more I found myself wishing we could bring some of the Korean orphans into our own home where we could love and care for them. I would walk from room to room thinking of how we could put a cot here. . .and another bed there. It even occurred to me that some of the rooms could be partitioned and made into two rooms without depriving anyone. In fact, some of the rooms even appeared empty as I looked at them.
There was certainly no problem where the other areas of the house were concerned. Our living room was never full except when we had a large Bible class attending. Our dining room might possibly be small. . .especially when we had company. . .but between the dining room and the living room was the library and that could just as easily be considered an annex to the dining room. Isn’t it true that when we want to see something materialize, we’re always able to make the necessary adjustments?
In thinking about particulars, I decided that eight would be the number we could actually absorb into the family. Any more might work a hardship for the children themselves. . . .
On Friday, April 15th, Harry voiced the burden on his heart.
“I’ve been thinking I’d like to go to Korea.”
“I know. I’ve been hoping you’d go.”
For a moment he just sat quietly and looked out the window. Then he spoke again.
“Every night when I go to bed, I see those pictures all over again. It doesn’t make any difference where I am or what I’m doing. I think about those kids over there. I look out here at this beautiful playground God has so generously given us and something inside of me cries out at the thought of those poor little babies starving to death, or being thrown into dumps to be gnawed by rats.”
Again there was silence but I knew he had more to say and would appreciate saying it as he felt it. So I just sat still and listened.
“I think we ought to adopt some of the GI-children.”
“That’s the way I feel, too.”
“How many do you think we could take care of?”
I knew what I wanted to say. I had thought of it many times and I felt like bursting out with the number eight. Somehow, I lacked the courage. I knew Harry had thought long and hard about the matter, too, and I had no idea of the number he felt would be right. Finally I answered in a far-off squeaky little voice.
“I suppose we could care for six.”
“Oh my. . .we have plenty of room for eight. . .or ten. . .or even more.”
I felt a sudden, joyful release. Now I knew that Harry’s number even surpassed mine. . .and then I heard him continue to say, “Suzanne and Linda’s bedroom is big enough for two or more beds. We can put cots in some of the other bedrooms; and the game room can be partitioned off along that ceiling beam to make a big double bedroom.”
As I listened to Harry repeat almost word for word the very things I had told myself could be done, I realized that God was working in our hearts. Only God could bring about such a miracle.
The end

May 12, 2009




Quick notes before rushing off to Shinsegae Cultural Center for my Ladies English classes. It has been a busy long weekend with ASK (Adoptee's Solidarity Korean) symposium on Friday, Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea MPAK on Sat. GOA'L's dinner on Sat. night at Sogang University. Sunday the Giant Puppet show with TRACK, then finally Monday at the governments Adoption Day Presentations by Min. of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs. WHEW!

May 5, 2009

Children's Day, Republic of Korea

May 5th is Children's Day!
Can you believe it? Children get their own day off, actually they had a four day weekend in some schools. I am sitting in my favorite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, in the shopping center at GoSeok Bus Terminal, Seoul. I always meet students here and get a discount 'mileage card', but you wouldn't believe the people running around. Well, if you live in Korea you would.
I am trying a new thing here, I downloaded something that allows me to use MS Word 2007 easily (I hope) without learning all that HTML, XML, etc. This Old Guy Adoptee just cannot handle too many tricks. I will be attending several events for the real big one for us Adoptees, May 11 is sorta kinda officially Adoption Day. I will show my support for both adoption agencies, such as my own beloved Holt International Children's Services, and groups like KoRoot, ASK (Adoptee's Solidarity for Koreans), and TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea).
You may wonder why I will support seemingly opposite groups, and nine months ago I was, well, truth be known I thought those who are against InterCountry Adoptions were the 'enemy'! I was the so called 'Happy to be Adopted' group and though the others were 'angry adoptees'. In the 10th Anniversary of GOA'L, 2008, I attended ASK's seminar entitled 'The myth of the Angry Adoptee' and was 'shocked, just shocked' to hear that the members were not Angry! OMG, I met Jane Jeong Trenka, author and editor, have since studied the positions of many who oppose InterCountry Adoptions and tried to understand their reasoning. Most importand I have found these young women and men to be responsible and caring people with well researched and reasoned out beliefs on this complex issue of ICA adoptions. Hey, they were not the 'enemy' anymore. I determined to learn everything, every argument from all sides, from every part of the Triad of adoption. Wow, the more I studied the more complex it was to see the 'big picture'.
The more I read, and I have read 15 books (highlighting, taking notes), looked at about 50 'adoption blogs' regularly, websites of every Korean group of the Adoption Triad, downloaded hundreds of Korean newspaper articles, news sites, adoption agency, and believe based on the current situation in Korea...Are you ready for this? There must be a Middle Road Map, we must all listen to each other, respect each other's views, realize that no matter what-We are all in this together.
This is the purpose of my simple blog, (and the two people who are reading it) it shall be my 'Mission in Life' before I go to the Heavenly Father (sorry for that anyone who is anti-religion/God but sometimes I will speak about my Higher Power). I believe that as I learned the actual facts 'on the ground' about what is currently happening in Korea, that it is even more important for all of us, 'to just get along'. Can anyone with a logical mind say no to that? Can we not listen to each other without name calling ('Damn those '#&@!!' guys), using all inclusive language instead of Qualifiers such as 'there have been "some" cases of abuse, even kidnapping rather than blanket statements?
Yes, we can! (You don't know how hard it is for me to say that phrase) We can work together, and those who can not...well, then I might bust some heads. Oh,sorry God, keep forgetting to keep it real, and peacefully persuade folks. I am trying, should we not all try to do the same? Hopefully, we can!

May 3, 2009

Children of War


Finally figured out how to ‘sign in’, use the RIGHT email account, Lord help me, learning to do a blog is terribly difficult for this ole’ Marine. I will try to sort this out and make this entry. Please bare with me as this is really work in progress, hey, that could be the name of a book “Work in Progress”. Okay, got to do this thing while I am still awake. Here is some more of my story:

“My sister and I grew up believing that our Korean birth mothers, or first mothers, had made a great sacrifice in order for us to have a good future. Our adoptive parents explained these things as we grew up. I understand the feelings of ‘loss’ that ‘full blooded’ Korean Adoptees also have experienced in losing their heritage by being sent away from our Motherland. We all suffered whether we were adopted as a baby or older child.

Joe Soll, an adoptee, and psychologist, based in New York, NY, is an author of several books. He draws from “The Primal Wound”, by Nancy Verrier, that this first trauma of abandonment is followed by several more that all adoptees endure. His book “Adoption Healing, a Path to Recovery” is an excellent book for all members of the Adoption Triad, especially for us adoptees. To a young child or even a fetus in the womb, a ‘fear of abandonment’ plagues our Inner Child, deep in the sub-conscious mind, a lifelong wounding that is difficult to heal.
Throughout my life I have tried to deal with “Who AM I?” In my mind as a five year old, deep in my spirit, my ‘Inner Child’ was pierced and wounded. My self-identity was always linked to “My Adoption Story” that I would recite without emotion to all those curious folks who looked at my white parents then asked, “This is your son? Oh, Adopted…and exactly what ARE you?” (And I just wanted to hit them! Come on, haven't you felt that as well.) As a Half-Breed though I always get the opposite from 'full-blooded' Koreans, even Adoptees have many times asked me at GOA'L meetings, "Why are you here?" As some famous charactor said so well, "Doh!"

A Child of War
I was born on January 25, 1952, some 18 months after the start of the war. My sister was born on June 9, 1955, three years five months later. My Korean name was Jun Yong Soo and my sister was Jun Chul Ahn. A woman with two mixed-race children, and possibly two different ‘fathers’, would have been unable to take care of us. I never felt angry towards my birth mother, and my Adoptive parents, both Christian, raised me to understand my birth mother’s predicament. I was told that we are Adopted into God’s family. Only in my mid 30’s did I begin to accept these Christian views personally, but one does not have to be religious to understand all the “why’s” of their life’s existence. We need to have an open mind, to hear all voices in this complex issue. I hope my story will help all members of the Adoption Triad, (Adoptee/Birth Family members/Adoptive Family members) sort out their own story, find understanding and peace.

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