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...

2 comments:

  1. Wow Don! This all seems so much for your heart to bear, but as you said... God is there with you! God knows what's in your heart and that is most important! Thoughts and prayers continue to go out to you...:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Don, This is really amazing. Thanks for posting this. I look forward to seeing you on TV soon -- hopefully!! Keep us posted on when we can watch it.

    ReplyDelete

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