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.


September 9, 2009

the adoptee's voice

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Adopted teen finds answers, mystery in China
Your Blood Is My Blood” a blog written by an American woman who is searching for her own identity. Jae has an incredible skill as a “Spoken Word Artist” and she has the ability to speak ‘from the street’.
Link here: the adoptee's voice
Reader Remember that it is actually unusual for a “BOY” to be adopted from China, with it’s “One Child” policy, sometimes enforced very strictly even in the Rural areas.
“The father fell to his knees, weeping. The mother quietly buried her face in her hands. The 17-year-old boy stood upright and motionless -- whether out of shock or stoicism, no one knew.
Christian Norris, who had just returned to China for the first time since he was adopted by an American eight years ago, didn't know what to think.”


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"Honey, are you OK?" Christian's adoptive mother, Julia Norris, finally asked. He nodded affirmatively, but said nothing.
The reunion between Christian, a high school student in Easton, Md., and his birth parents took place Saturday in a Beijing hotel room crowded with well-wishers and media on hand to witness the virtually unprecedented event.
Since the early 1990s, an estimated 75,000 Chinese-born children have been adopted abroad, and although they increasingly visit China on heritage tours, Christian is one of only a few who have managed to chase down their personal history.”

“He was born Jin Jiacheng in 1991 in Yinchuan, a city in the Ningxia region several hundred miles west of Beijing, to a couple who both worked in a hospital and already had a son. Because his parents could have been penalized for having a second child, he was sent as a newborn to his father's home village to be raised by his grandmother and a 23-year-old uncle, who pretended the infant was his own son. When he turned 6 and was ready to start school, they sent him back to the city.”

Korean War Baby comments:
Here is the gist of the story: when he was seven years old the boy was lost and separated from his parents while on an family outing. The bus left without him and somehow he got on a bus and wound up 350 miles away. He was found wandering under a bridge and brought to an orphanage. His future Adoptive mother worked for an Adoption Agency. Attempts to find out where he lived failed because he could not remember. AFTER one year Julia Norris, both a firm believer in open adoptions and a tenacious investigator who once worked for the television show ‘America's Most Wanted.’ A single woman, Julia Norris adopted the 8 year old boy and three years later a Chinese girl.
This story is full of interesting facts, an example of just things gone wrong in life. There was not ‘kidnapping’ or ‘Child Laundering’ in this case. China’s policy is already being reconsidered, after the high death toll of the ‘Only Child’ of many who died in the earthquake last year.
Read the rest, remembering that “Every story is different, unique, or similar, a SPECTRUM of circumstances and facts. We must ALWAYS examine the truth. Christian has a huge amount of STUFF to work through, no wonder he is overcome and I would think bewildered by it all. THERE IS NO SIMPLE ANSWER for the future, but with his Adoptive mother perhaps he can work through it.
As we must all work through “THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION”.
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1 comment:

  1. Christian has certainly been through so much and will have a lot to deal with throughout his life. He has been blessed by being adopted by a wonderful Mom that takes his emotional well being into consideration,which is so very important, and supports him in finding his birth family. With the foundation of love she is giving him he will have a wonderful future! God Bless You Christian!
    Allie Williams

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