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.
June 19, 2009
Postponed!!! Yes, they did NOT even tell me that my episode on TVN Korean Cable channel was NOT this week but will be NEXT week...AaiiGooo Cham! Wed. the 17 at midnight (Korean time) was to be the first of several broadcasts but apparently it will be on Wed. 24th that it will start.
New (Possible Schedule): TVN Cable 270 on Skylife
Wed (24th) 00:00 Midnight
Sat. (27th) 22:00 PM
Sun. (28th) 05:00 am/ 6:50 am/ 15:50 pm
Mon. (29th) 22:00 pm
As I wait patiently to see how they present my case (Who knows what or how they will edit all the scenes) I worry about many things. Will I look 'too fat', 'too old', will they make me look stupid, etc. All vain worries, but valid for sure, then I began to think, "this is all worthless", "why did I do THIS program", "I will look foolish", "There is no way SHE will see this", "This was all for naught", etc.
Then I started to ask myself, "What will you SAY to her, what if it turns out to be the Wrong woman like some cases." I then realized that part of me, an ugly deep set part of me came up...I saw the other day a Korean mother with a boy about five and a baby in a stroller. She was struggling to get up the stairs at the subway, where there is no elevator. Many people were just passing her by, (this is the Confucian way "if you don't know someone, don't help them" though the younger generation under 40 some of them do help). Well, my Adoptive mother did teach us some good things, like chasing stray dogs through traffic to 'rescue' them. One of my favorite books in Middle school was "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes...well, you get the gist.
Well, I offered to help and when she nodded in assent, I picked up carriage with baby and took it up the stairs (slowly because I am an old fart now), set it down at the top and hurried away. I did not want her to be embarrassed because some people 'might' think we were a family, horrors. I was bowing back to her bow of thanks when IT struck me. IT was a thought that came out of nowhere, a voice within that came from deep within me. Was this "MY" thought? A thought from my deepest soul? I have to say these things first before I even write it down, for you, dear readers (all seven of you), for you to understand how utterly shocked I was to comprehend this, this weird thought that flashed in my mind:
"Just like my F*CKing mother! She gave us away, though!!!"
WHAT WAS THAT?!! Well, I was shocked, just shocked, to "FEEL" this emotion and couldn't believe this was even my thoughts. I turned away, wanting to get away from this place, trying to sort out "What was THAT?! That was not me...was it?" I struggled to think, "was this my thoughts or a thought planted by satan?" Theology students argue that some thoughts we have are from outside our minds, you know little demons sitting on our shoulders, speaking into our minds "just do it!", while an 'angel' hovers on the other side saying "no, don't do that!" But I have read a great deal about all that, unfortunately most of our horrible thoughts of murder, revenge, hatred, hurt, pain, sorrow, etc come from our experience and pain within. All day and since I have pondered this strange reaction to a woman, a Korean mother who sort of represents my own mother with two Half-Breed children of a Foreign Devil. (See my first post).
I have come to a conclusion. This astonishing thought is from deep within my mind, it is a combination of my "Five-year old mind, juxaposing (Overlaying) the Pain of rejection and abandonment, with the Anger that grew out of it." It is the only logical way for me to understand that I, I have deep, deep anger towards my birth mother who disappeared, abandoned me, left me to be flown away to another world. As an adult I can look at everything in rational and logical ways, but in my Inner Child is the Five-Year old mind confused and in pain. I knew in my mind, in cold logical ways all these things but was given an insight into the ugliness, the utter Darkness in my heart. "That stuff is in me? Yes...Wow, now what God? How can I meet my birth mother with THIS in me?"
Now some of my dear Adoptee brethern (male and female) might think to use this as a reason against InterCountry Adoption, how horrible adoption is for children. DON'T. I have made it clear that of course having both parents in a wonderful world is BEST. Anything less than that is progressively worse but certainly better than some of the options. Unwanted pregnancy without a willing husband is bad enough, but Abortion really sucks! Being abandoned by our birth mothers and fathers is the main issue.
(For those who talk about Cultural and Societal purity of being raised Korean rather than in a TransRacial society may have a point. I also agree with the idea that being raised by Ethnic Koreans for a "Pure-Blood" is preferable to a Trans-Racial Adoption. However, the facts remain that currently every year the number of available babies born and given up for adoption ONLY 50% of them are adopted by Ethnic Koreans. BUT the 90% of Korean Adoptee raised in SECRET in a Korean family will still have the Spirit of Abandonment in its spirit, they will KNOW inside that something is wrong, they know they don't LOOK like Korean parents and many find out someday, what they KNEW. "You were adopted" and they share what 20% of American Domestic adoptee also were never told, "you were adopted, you are not really our child". Late Discovery Adoptees website gives just some Americans stories of the shock of Late Discovery - Home ). Openness in Korean Adoptions are slowly growing. Trans-Racial adoptees have social adjustments of course, even for the Korean War Baby and other "Breeds". These are the Levels of Preference that I see in the Multi-tierred pyramid of Life that I am working on for a future post.
For NOW, I must deal with myself, try to understand what is going on inside myself. "Know thyself" is easier said than done. The Journey continues...God help me, and you.