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 21, 2009

Koreans abroad are still Korean - INSIDE JoongAng Daily

Read this to begin understanding, how ‘some’ Korean people think about the ‘other Koreans’. Recently chatted with a Korean on FB, and thought that she was a German adoptee since there were somethings on her FB page in German. After she cleared that up she made the claim that “I am 100% Korean”. Some would say “really Korean”, or “Pure Korean”. I asked her about “Ethnically pure Korean Adoptees, and millions of emigrants that have left Korea. “Oh, they are not Real Korean any more”. Sigh! From JoongAng Daily:
Koreans abroad are still Korean - INSIDE JoongAng Daily
Sept. 21, 2009
“One of the characters in “Take Off,” a film that has attracted nearly 8 million moviegoers so far, is a Korean American called Bob. He happened to be a member of Korea’s national ski jump team when he came to Korea to look for his biological mother.
(This is baffling, how could he become a member of the team? Was he adopted, if he was looking for his biological mother, then he would be a citizen of the USA. Hmmm?)
But Heon-tae, which is his Korean name, cannot recite even the first part of the national anthem. Naturally, he fought with his teammates, who called him “a Yankee.”

It is not a story limited to the big screens. SK Wyverns Manager Kim Sung-geun, who is Korean-Japanese, faced similar challenges when he first visited Korea as a member of a student baseball team made up of Korean residents in Japan on Aug. 7, 1959.

In a collection of recently published autobiographical essays “Bringing up the last to the first,” he recalls that he used a Japanese name, Kanebayashi Seikong, in his childhood and did not know that he had a Korean name until he came to Korea. At first he could not understand Korean but appreciated the warm smiles of female Korean students. He was fascinated by the taste of bulgogi and was captivated by the beauty of actress Kim Ji-mi, who starred in “Tragedy is Over.” He was moved to see the emotional scene of tearful meetings between his colleagues and their long-separated relatives in Korea when the latter visited the former at their quarters.

Of course, not all things went smoothly. When a ball thrown by the pitcher of the Korean residents’ team hit the head of Park Young-gil, the cleanup man of Kyongnam High School, the spectators jeered at them yelling, “Jap! Go home.” He said to himself, “How can they call us Japs? Don’t they know that we lead painful lives and are discriminated against in Japan because we are Korean? Don’t they know how difficult it is to organize a team of Korean residents in Japan?” Even after he was picked up as a member of the Korean national baseball team, the backbiting and calling him a “Jap” didn’t stop.
Even now the majority of “Real 100% Koreans” would agree with this point and “unreal Koreans” had better remember this fact.

The creed of keeping the purity of the “homogeneous race” has not yet waned. The leader of the boy band 2PM, Park Jae Beom, had to fly back to his hometown of Seattle because of a complaint about Korea he had posted on a Web site four years ago.
I put Park’s name ‘in Red’ for as some of you know names ‘written in red’ means someone is dead. Park Jae Beom is considered ‘dead’ to the majority of the thousands of fans who turned on him after a post on MySpace was discovered and put onto the internet. Another famous case was another Korean-American, Steve Yoo Seung-Joon, who made it as a singer then lied about joining the military, rushed back to swear in as a USA citizen. Koreans (those who consider themselves 100% Korean) still call him a traitor. Just google his name. There are many sports stars who choose to change their citizenship to avoid the draft and serve in the military.
The fact that he is a Korean-American who is exempt from military service in Korea is probably an additional reason that fanned antipathy toward him (Park Jae Beom). People poured a barrage of criticism against him, claiming that he should go home immediately.

I wonder whether the criticism that he was not familiar with the Korean way of life four years ago was why he wrote “I hate Koreans” on a Web site. What memory will he have of his homeland now that it has sent him away for committing a small mistake? Won’t the Republic of Korea be remembered a heartless country to other young people of Korean heritage overseas? As of today, the number of Koreans overseas amounts to 6.82 million.


The writer is the content director at JES Entertainment.
By Song Weon-seop

Korean War Baby comments:
One cannot blame the Korean students and fans for their feelings. They try to accept the Diaspora of 6.82 million Other Koreans who are living outside, but they will always be “Almost Korean” ONLY. Oh, they accept them as singers, actors, entertainers, but expect them to adapt to THEM. Cross them and you’ll find yourself kicked out on the next flight.
How about you fellow “100% genetically pure Korean Adoptees”,  have you felt that you were accepted as Korean? Are you like us Half-Breed, HonHyolAh, Tuigi, ‘wanna be Korean’ adoptees who find out you will NEVER be call “100% Korean”? Send the Korean War Baby your reunion experience, tell him if you want names *redated**** or what.
What is a Korean? Many different shades, Hmmmm.

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