THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION
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 5, 2009
Children's Day, Republic of Korea
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!