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 24, 2009
Frank Gets Birthday Present!-The Call
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".
WOW!!!! I was stunned! I spoke to G****** for 20 minutes before I first heard her voice. She had been listening-in the whole time. They saw my pics posted on Classmates.com and complimented me on my handsome son and beautiful wife. Those pics are the first time she has ever seen me. She explained the trauma and the drama that lead to my birth. She was raped at 19 while he was over seas with the Marine Corp. They were young and this was not the way then envisioned starting a family. They were counseled to put me up for adoption.
They called me tonight May 18th 2009, on her 70th bithday. On May 20th, two days from now I will be 50. It was very exciting to hear her voice and to know for the first time how I came to being. I thanked both of them for choosing life and giving me up for adoption. She didn't even know if I was a boy or girl! On my birthdays, , she would pray for me. G****** was a pastor for 40 years, now retired. They live in *****. They have two sons and one daughter. Their kids don't know I exist. I told them if they chose not to tell their kids about me, that’s perfectly ok. “I just want you to know I am alive and well”, I said to J*****. “Thank you for giving me life!” They are open to a face to face meeting. They both seem like the nicest people you ever want to meet.
Here is the email I sent them through classmates.com:
My name is Frank P. from California. I was born on May 20, ****) at ******** Hospital in Orange, Ca. My birth mother's name was J****** ******* and you share my birth fathers name. I was adopted by a great family who adopted a total of 5 kids after having three of their own. I've had an exciting life thus far. Both of my parents are dead. Not wanting to offend them, I never expressed my curiosity about my birth parents. My mom always told me that I was "chosen" therefore I was special. She was a saint. You certainly could be my birth father based on age. If you are the man I seek, my understanding is that you are Filipino. I am also Dutch and English. I am married with a handsome 7 year old son. None of this would have been possible if my birth mother ended my life prematurely. You see G., I was an unwanted pregnancy. I thank God that J. chose "life" for me. I hope to someday meet her to thank her for the gift of life.
That is my story. If you are my birth father, I hope you have the courage to meet me. Perhaps you've wondered about me. Maybe you feel guilt. Please don't. I'm not angry and I'm happy to be alive and have a family of my own. I just want to know what you are like for I am part of you.
Please respond if I'm right or wrong. Thanks
I rejoice with my brother in Christ for his great Birthday Present. Sometimes reunions are good, healing, some are quite the opposite with birthmothers not wanting to reveal the secret (And I must understand why mothers cannot do so, living with their feelings within their hearts, whatever they may be). We, adoptees who ARE ALIVE and curious about our birth parents though can share Frank's feelings. This THING of ours, ADOPTION is complex, a rainbow of issues, but we are at the core, the center of it all.
This last three days I was "taping" a Korean TV show, (finally got one). Still have to sort out all the events. Thursday was four hours of interviewing (with interpretation), Friday had a session with a Psychologist who gave me a hypnotherapy session, then met a famous Mudang (Shaman priestess). I am 'pulling out all the stops' in my search, though I must keep objective and sort out all the information that was 'learned' from these alternative means. I will not simply take at face value everything I was told or "remembered" under hypnosis. Please make comments or advice on these issues after I post on them in the next couple of days.