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 29, 2009

Allie-Unwanted, Unlucky but a Survivor!

The Korean War Baby introduces another FaceBook Friend, one who despite many hardships; a late discovery that she had been adopted by her grandparents; has become a Court Child Advocate helping to insure that every case is settled in the best interests of the child. This is just part of her story:
Allie Williams




“I was treated with mild neglect as if I were a stray dog or an unwelcomed guest, one that has overstayed their welcome”.




Nana (grandmother Allie) and Jack

Allie's Story
 

“My adoption story is not a happy one. Adoption has been a very hard thing for me. Mine was not handled correctly and has caused me a lot of pain that I try to ignore but is always there. I am a Child Advocate, a trustee of the court. I have found that every case must be considered as a unique case. In every case, every detail must be found out by investigation and care taken to do what is truly in the interest of the child. I learned a lot from my family though. I learned that when you treat someone bad it hurts them and as a small child I learned that was not the way to treat others. I share my story, hoping that others will find meaning in their own lives, not make the mistakes that caused me so much pain in my life.

Eldest ‘sister’ was really her ‘Bio-Mom’
My biological Mom B****** was nineteen yrs old when I was born and she didn't want a child in her life at that time. You see she was my eldest sister, or rather I thought she was my sister. My biological Mother's side of the family that adopted me had made a decision to give me up for adoption but was made to feel guilty by my great-grandmother if they didn't keep me and raise me. So I was adopted reluctantly by my grandparents.


Allie & daughter Katie 


I was adopted at 6 wks of age, after I had spent the first 6 wks of my life with a potential adoptive family, the doctor that delivered me. My bio Mom's grandmother (my great grandmother) insisted that my grandparents adopt me. I often wonder what my life would have been like had I been adopted by the doctor. However, it was made quite clear to me that it was not an adoption that was wanted. It was forced upon them and I came along at a point in their life when they were 43 and not wanting anymore children.



Allie with daughter Heather, baby Ella and Jack


Late Discovery Adoptee

I didn't find out till I was 16 that I was adopted (my boyfriend told me). Everyone in the ‘huge’ town of Baxter Springs, Kansas (population 4,000) knew that I was adopted except me and were sworn to secrecy to never tell me. Everybody knows everything in a town that size and I was the "Big Secret". Everyone that lived in Baxter Springs, Kansas must have had to take an oath to never tell me.


 Heather & Allie

Even my best friend since I was 3 knew, but never told me. Of course this made everybody act odd around me and uncomfortable. I was always looked at by everyone as the result of something bad. I have friends from my childhood say that they always wondered what was wrong with me that could have been so bad. This caused me to lack trust in others and problems bonding with people. This caused me to feel different from everyone else. Small children pick up on the little innuendos, whispers, and hurtful things people say. I always wondered what was  wrong with me.
Bio-Father?
I am not 100% positive who my bio-father is or his ethnicity. I get asked all the time if I am part Asian. I have no clue! I am part Cherokee, but my great, great, great Grandmother refused to be put on the rolls of the tribe. She was full Cherokee and I am not sure what I am on my bio-fathers side. Maybe that is why I get asked if I am from an Island country!
I did meet who I think might be my bio-father. He is a very nice man and actually wanted to do the right thing by marrying my bio-mother. I first met him when I was 26 and we talk a few times a year since then. We have never done a DNA test but I am going to ask him if we can.
I called him out of the blue one day and told him that I was B****** daughter and that he might be my bio-father. We met at a little cafe in my hometown of Baxter. He immediately pulled out a newspaper clipping from his billfold and said he had always wanted to meet me and that he had cut this article out of the newspaper.
It was from when I was 16 yrs old and was in the Miss Kansas Teen Pageant. He said his wife had found it years ago and thought he was having an affair with a teenager until he told her that I was his daughter. He said he had never taken it out of his billfold all those years and had always wanted to meet me. He was very excited and we sat there and cried, we both cried together.
He said he would have married my bio-Mom but my Dad (bio grandfather), and his brother (my uncle) shot at him as he was coming out of a business in Baxter one night. It got his pant leg and just grazed his ankle. He had been trying to contact my bio Mom by calling and coming by the house trying to tell her he would marry her. After being shot at he decided he would never try to contact them again. He said at that point he gave up. Can't blame him!!

Unwanted-a sign of Shame

My adoptive Mother (actually my bio-grandmother) often made the comment that she wished they would have never adopted me. That was the most truthful thing that I have ever heard her say. I never felt wanted and was abused emotionally and physically by my sister J****** (bio-aunt) and my ‘sister’/bio-mom B*****. J****** the middle sister was 11 yrs old when I was born. She said she always felt competition because of me and that my birth caused so many problems for the family that I was just bad all the way around. My abusive sister-aunt got pregnant at 16 and my parents forced her to have an abortion.

My sisters, aunts and bio mom have always acted jealous and would make hurtful comments about me to my face and to others behind my back. I have actually had people who are in their 50's now, tell me that my ‘sister’/aunt J*****, that is 11 yrs older than me, made comments to her friends that she hated me. My parents would never defend me or tell them to stop, so it just became a way of life for them.

Everyone’s punching bag

I was everyone’s punching bag. I was treated with mild neglect as if I were a stray dog or an unwelcomed guest, one that has overstayed their welcome. I was a quiet child and tried my best to stay out of everybody's way at home. I never gave my parents any problems growing up. I was out-going in school and achieved high academic scores; excelled in sports, music, elected president of many clubs, and never experimented with drugs or alcohol. I was not a problem child. I never had to be told to do my homework, practice the piano, clarinet or flute.

I became a better person despite my difficulties growing up. At home I just tried to stay out of everyone's way. I would hide under our baby grand piano, or in my closet. If the weather was good I was always outside. Never wanted to be around sister/aunt J****** especially!!! My Bio-mother B*****’s two biological sons didn't find out I was their sister until they were teenagers. It upset them greatly and one of them has not associated with the family for 22 yrs. They were both mad at me for not "acting" like their sister!

Family is Embarrassed Again


I got pregnant the summer before my Senior year in High School. When my adoptive Dad found out he pulled me out of the bathroom from where I was hiding as my mom told him, and he pulled me out by my hair, threw me on the floor and stepped on my chest and held a loaded shotgun to my head. He said he wanted to kill me because I had embarrassed the family just like B******* had done. He said he was going to go over to my soon-to-be husband and kill him. Luckily I got out from under his foot, ran out the front door, grabbing my keys and purse by the door, drove like hell to my boyfriend’s house and told him to get out of town.

I overheard my parents planning to drug me and force me to have an abortion, like my sister J******. So I snuck out of the house and drove to my fiance's house and told him and his dad what my A-dad was doing, trying to force an abortion on me. His dad was mad and went with me back to my parent’s house.


When my boyfriend’s Dad told them how wrong that was and if I wanted to keep my baby then I should be able to do just that. My dad was so mad! After I had my daughter, my A-Dad really seemed to grow more loving and was very good to her, or so I thought. Behind my back, I found out he was undermining my authority telling my kids I was a slut, whore, crazy and every bad name you can think of. One day when she was about 5 she asked me what a slut was. I asked her where she had heard that from and she said that grandpa calls you that all the time.

(Korean War Baby comments: Allie could go on, but I thought she should hold it back for her own book. Later, hope to hear from Allie again on Adoption Issues and some of the cases she works on as a Child Advocate in the courts.)


Different yet Unique

I think every adoption is different yet unique in its own way and specific to that family. Really it is no different than a family whose children are their own natural born. I do think that every adoption needs to be handled appropriately, gingerly, loving and most certainly in the "Best Interest of the Child". No child should find out they are adopted as a teenager or as an adult. It should not be something that is secretive or perceived as "bad". It should be something that is shared with them at age appropriate levels on a degree in which they can understand. It is who they are, and should not make them feel it's who they will become. Adoption is something that should be talked about with joy just as a natural birth.

The stress placed on me by my family was horrible and unbearable. I have stopped almost all contact with them as they are “toxic” to me. I was never allowed to ask questions about my adoption as I was told it was disrespectful for me to ask questions because it was such a source of pain for them. I am thinking what about the pain I feel!! It still to this day makes me feel depressed and it is painful. It is pain that I feel daily.

“It is, what it is” and I just do my best to deal with it. Adoption is a good thing. I just wish I was one of the lucky one’s that would have been adopted by a good loving family. My family never gave me the chance to be the sister that would have loved to been asked to go shopping or do something fun as a family. I was an embarrassment to the family. I was never given a chance to love or be loved.



Life is still hard, filled with tough decisions and pain, but it has made me a stronger person. I always try to do the right thing in each case that I am involved with in court. Relationships in my family are still strained but I do my best to keep sane, do the right things, keep moving on the best I can. That’s all we can do, get back up each time and keep moving on.
Allie Williams

5 comments:

  1. I am hers!!!!October 01, 2009

    OMG, You are an inspiration to everyone who thinks they had it hard. You are a queen and the way you have handled everything and gone on to help other unfortunate children have a better life is an amazement to me. You are the best person I have ever met. You are a Queen. You are a saint and a savior to hundreds of young children. I stopped by here to tell you I have been blessed by knowing you and I will always do all I can to help you eliminate this pain from your life. I will always walk with you and will always step in the way of any other bullet anyone sends your way....Thank You for being my friend and an inspiration to showing me still how much more work I have to do!!!!! I love You Allie Blue!

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  2. Awesome story! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Allie, my sweet friend, how I wish I could have somehow protected you from the pain. How anyone can treat a child so cruelly is beyond my ability to grasp. You must know by now that THEY are the ones with the problem. You are a beautiful child of God, and their behavior is inexcusable. I am honored to know you. <3 <3 <3 <3

    Sister Mary Elizabeth ; )

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  4. Allie WilliamsNovember 10, 2009

    Thank you my dear friends!! What I went through as a child certainly makes me appreciate the good people in my life like you and other special people. I am so blessed that God saved me from becoming cruel and cynical like they are and full of hate and contempt.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Thank you Don for taking the time to listen. That is the first time in my life that anyone cared enough to help me get it out so I can finally deal with it and put it behind me, where it needs to be.
    Blessing to you all!
    Much Love!
    Allie

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  5. Allie, I am so blessed to know you. Like I tell you daily, you are an amazing person. To have overcome what you have in your life and become the person you have become is unbelievable. Keep the good fight going...I'll be watching you.

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