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 17, 2009

Katherine Heigl Adopts Korean Baby with Special Needs (PHOTO, VIDEO) | Bitten and Bound

Actress Katherine Heigl at the premiere of &qu...Image via Wikipedia

Posted on: September 11th, 2009

 

Actress Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley have adopted a 10-month old Korean girl who will be named Naleigh, after Heigl’s mother Nancy and her sister Leigh. The fact that the child has special needs allowed the process to be shortened according the the Grey’s Anatomy star.













katherine-heigl-josh-kelley-adopt
Heigl will sit down with Ellen DeGeneres, the newest American Idol judge, on Friday September 11 to provide more details about the big event that happened just this week. One of the reasons that Katherine decided to adopt an Asian child is because she has a sister Meg who was adopted from Korea as an infant. She said she decided to do Ellen’s talk show so that people wouldn’t “think I stole a Korean baby.”
View video of Katherine Heigl on Ellen below.

Katherine Heigl Adopts Korean Baby with Special Needs (PHOTO, VIDEO) Bitten and Bound
The Korean War Baby comments:
So here is a ‘dreaded case of Celebrity Adoption’, oh dear me, the Horror, how awful! “She must be doing it just to become…uh, famous, well, more famous then. How dare she take the child away from it’s cultural background, and from the natural mother”.
I know not everyone feels that way, but ‘some’ do think that way. Good points BUT let’s look at all the facts.
Fact #1: Katherine has an Adopted sister from Korea!! So auntie will be a Korean face, and help her to adjust to living with “Rich White Folks”.
Fact #2: Baby has “Special Needs” (this is the PC term for Disabilities) What? How did this baby get born, must have slipped by the sonograms or they would have aborted the thing. Oh, the natural mother did not want to keep it. Understandable, in THIS Korean society, most Disabled people got that way from being hit by cars.
Fact #3: Baby is ten months old. (until 6 months old, ONLY Koreans living in Korea CAN adopt the baby). SO….no one in the Motherland Wanted it…Special Needs children do cost and the horror of having everyone ‘look’ at you, oh the shame. Government help is a lot of help.
Between 2000 and 2006, only 2% of the children adopted who were classified as having special needs, including being born prematurely, were placed domestically. In 2006, for example, 12 special needs or premature children were adopted domestically in Korea as against 713 such children who were placed abroad (Ministry of Health and Welfare
, 2007a).

From “Openness in Korean (Domestic) Adoptions”
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a903709611
by (peter.hayes@sunderland.ac.uk) and (hekim@kosin.ac.kr)
Let me look at those figures again folks, someone help me with the math, 12 over 713 that would be what percent? Lord help me, failing math caused me to enlist because I received my draft notice…Oh, here it is:
12/713 = 0.01683 percent? Is that right?
In this case, hands down, it is the right thing for the baby girl to have a loving family, even though they are not racially matched. Who can say differently? Send me your views, The Korean War Baby wants to hear from all my ‘dozen’ readers.
*Special Thanks to Bert Spoor for the link: For the Dutchman's point of view go to . . .FIREBERT
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