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 25, 2009

Danielle's Beacon: For Katherine Heigl Adoption is All in the Family

Korean War Baby:

“Many opinions on Katherine Heigl and her husband’s decision to adopt a child. Again, let us listen to every viewpoint, examine each case’s facts, reserve conclusions until fact checking and hearing from both “sides”. BALANCE…”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

For Katherine Heigl Adoption is All in the Family

Jeanie here.
While appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show the beautiful and apparently serious Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl announced that she and her husband Josh Kelley are in the process of adopting a Korean child.
Celebrity adoptions are not new. Here at the DB blog we’ve covered the adoption woes and victories of Madonna, Elton John and others.
What makes Heigl’s news unique is that her sister Meg Heigl is Korean. So the idea of adopting a child from Korea was something she “always knew” she would one day do.

Obviously, the adoption option was a positive experience in Heigl’s childhood. All the mysteries and concerns were resolved in her upbringing. In fact, early in her relationship the question she posed for her future husband was not “Do you want to have children?” Rather, she wanted to know if Kelley was open to adoption.

Some men aren’t. At first, Pat wasn’t. But he came around and is now an adoption advocate. Women often lead the way in the adoption world. It’s nice to see lots of men embracing the idea, too.

Posted by Patrick and Jeanie Scott at 10:06 AM

Danielle's Beacon: For Katherine Heigl Adoption is All in the Family

Korean War Baby reminds us that the Child from Korea is a 10 month old ‘Special Needs’ child. First Post here (KWB has learned to ‘hyperlink’, cool) gives more details and facts. Very few ‘Real 100% Koreans’ can or are willing to adopt and after six months she was available for Inter-Country Adoption.

Perhaps in say, ten years we could ask her, “Do you wish you had just been ABORTED? What do you think about losing all your Korean culture, language, family?

Steven Morrison of Mission to Promote Adoption ‘by’ Korean (English here: MPAK) replied to the KWB on this story:

“To name the baby from her mother's and her adopted sister must mean that their sibling relationship and the whole family must have been very close.

People speak about 'exporting' babies and stopping intercountry adoption because it brings so much shame to Korea should look at the unfortunate reality. The fact of the matter is that most Koreans don't want special needs children but Americans do. It is a much more shameful thing to admit that only 12 of them are adopted domestically while 713 of them are adopted by foreigners - all because Koreans don't want them. Now what is more shameful than this?

And it doesn't stop with the special needs children, even healthy children are not all wanted in Korea, thus they have to find homes abroad. I have stated many times before in many adoption related events and gatherings and I state again. Stop the intercountry adoption ONLY when there is no more children available to be sent abroad.”

Steven Morrison is also a “Special Needs” adoptee. Founder of MPAK gives his personal story here.

The Korean War Baby sadly concurs with this inconvenient truth. The most ‘unwanted- mixed-racial, special needs, babies truly NOT wanted by their natural/birth mothers after careful counseling,’ those born when they could have been aborted.

Should they not be able to have a good home? For those who are unwanted and rejected by family, society, government, etc. the Korean War Baby feels ICA must continue…send your views on these matters. Every opinion has validity.

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