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.

October 28, 2009

Baby-Stealing For Profit? Truth on Adoption Agencies


There has been many accusations on the internet that Adoption Agencies have profited in the Huge Adoption Industry. Why it is counted as a 1.5 Billion Dollar Business, with claims by some that Baby-Stealing is rampant. Certainly there are cases, far too many, of unscrupulous ‘middle-men’ making profit on ‘finding’ babies for adoption in several countries. The news accounts online are full of different countries shutting down adoption programs because of the uncovering of these gross irregularities.

Yes, even in Korea there have been some cases of mistakes, wrong birthdates or 2 birthdates on documents, claims of ‘abandonment’ that turned out to be incorrect, etc. The numbers of such cases are few in comparison with the overall total; BUT not for those who find out that the “story of Abandonment” might not be true.

Even ONE case ought not to be. It seems to be more difficult for many European Korean Adoptees to grow up in societies that on the outward appearance seem to be "Color-Blind" but are still in progress on social acceptance of those deemed "Different". Tobias Hubinette recently posted this on Sweden, one of the most progressive of countries, on laws protecting rights of all, but this study shows that in day to day living Asians/Middle Eastern/African/Others all have various degrees of racial prejudice.

To be Non-white in a Colour-Blind Society.pdf (127KB
 Again it seems that Laws alone do not change Hearts. Latent prejudice is only just below the surface, simmering like a caldera of molten lava, waiting to erupt. The Los Angeles Riots in the early '90s is a perfect example of racial bias turning into attacks based purely on ethnic groups, as Blacks turned on Korean business owners in South Central. 

Each story must be investigated and determined if mistakes were made, or if there was deliberate falsifying of documents for meeting quotas and making profits. It is difficult to do in each case because some of mankind is inherently evil and seeks profit where ever they can.

TRACK is an organization looking into these cases, and the KWB supports them and is a member of both TRACK and ASK Adoptee Solidarity for Korea. Post Adoption Services are now being done to help aid the thousands of Adoptees who are returning and looking into their past.

Woman who arrange marriages (Matchmakers) called 중매쟁이 or Joong Mae Jaengi also connect unwed mothers with infertile couples through legal but secret adoptions. The Dutch couple were a terrible example of this practice. Here , here, or here. Can we say then that ALL domestic adoptions are BAD? Of Course not, but “some people’s children” would use the “same brush to paint” an ugly example as the NORM.

Have some adopted children been murdered by their adoptive father? Yes And did another one kill her adoptive daughter, well, yes. here. There are other chilling stories of Adoptive Parents sexually molesting their own adopted child. BUT shall we blame adoption for the cause?

Many checks on families are done, but if there is NO police record of arrest even a Pedophile can slip by. The KWB WAS totally against “Same sex adoption”! He had seen children turned into Lesbians and Gays, raised in Filipino homes where homosexuality was the norm. To allow a child to be adopted into that is WRONG.

(BUT then, there is some cases in Korea, such as a famous clothing designer who adopted a SON and he turned out okay. Over the years the KWB has even become great friends with some gays and lesbians, some currently practicing and some trying to "quit being gay". His views on gays and lesbians adopting children is being tested, and the jury is still out, perhaps it is better to be loved in a Same-sex marriage than to be aborted, raised in institutional care, etc. Yes, the KWB has to consider even this, to be fair and balanced.) 

So, shall we then say that it was Adoption at fault? Life is full of problems and challenges, he does not want to minimize anyone's story. Suffering in life is not just due to being adopted; there is Divorce, death of parents, siblings, loss from disease, and smorgasbord of terrible things that afflict mankind in this life.

Abused sometimes become Abusers

When the KWB was counseling at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship he heard first hand stories of rape, beatings, physical and emotional abuse, people listening  to ‘voices inside’ telling to ‘cut out their babies eyes because a demon was inside’ the baby. There was no end to stories of sufferings endured by men and women, when they were but young children. 

Victims of sexual crimes are deeply affected throughout their lives, whether their abuser was of the same-sex or opposite sex. Some become sexually promiscuous with those of either sex. Sometimes a few of them became the Abusers and predators.  Pedophiles are reviled by the public, yet the facts are that 100 percent of Pedophiles were themselves sexually molested as children. Most do not intend violence towards their victims, in their own minds they are "giving love and affection" to young children. 

Korean society's views on Adoptees-Damaged Goods

BUT it becomes in Korea another reasons for 'many' Koreans to Fear, mistrust, or hate, those who ‘must have something wrong with them’ to be given up for adoption. This is the Korean majority point of view from children to adults toward the issues of Adoption. Adoptees have “something wrong with them” is a typical belief. Korean Media supports these wrong beliefs, and the horror movie "Orphan" did not help at all! 

Over the next few posts The Korean War Baby will look over these controversial issues. First, let us look at just the recent records of the KWB adoption agency, Holt International Children’s Service.

(Please look HERE for complete online magazine)
spring09.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Click on to enlarge
 Holt International Online Magazine/Spring09_pg 4HoltIntlMag_2007-8BudgetsPage 4 Close up on 2007/2008 Financial Highlights


Please note that in 2007

Total Revenue               
Total Operating Expenses                
$ 18,883,395

They earned a whopping profit of $357,452

Oh, the Horror! Money made for selling babies to terrible people who want to get a Slave, why they might sell them to pedophiles or lock them in dungeons...


Well it IS. Please look at the figures for 2008, after the effects of the global downturn. Let’s do the math again. (Double-check me)

Total Revenue               
Total Operating Expenses        
Minus   $1,474,009

HERE IT IS FOLKS, THE EXPOSE OF THE 21 CENTURY, Holt International made a profit, OH, NO…a LOSS in 2008…Hmmm. What up with that? Thought they were making the bucks?

Let’s look at the MONEY TRAIL. Where did they Spend all that money?

Holt Intl. Annual Report 2008

Children served in all programs
Families served in all countries (USA not included)
Children placed with Domestic families of their Birth Country
Children placed with US adoptive Families
Waiting children placed with adoptive families
Total accumulated number of children placed by Holt with US adoptive families 1956-2008

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  1. KWB,

    The 2007 annual report shows that revenue exceeded expenses by $357,457 as you explained, however, but using that number soley (for 1 year) to prove Holt is not profiting from adoption is myopic. The adoption fee is the largest revenue generator and in addition to that, Holt has built up assets over the years. 2008 showed a net loss maninly due to a loss in investments and there were not adjustments made to the expenses in anticipation of or to counteract that loss.

    Holt is an adoption agency making money from adoptions and I believe no one could dispute that fact. Possibly what you are trying to say is that you dont believe that the majority of Holt adoptions are not done with malicious intent, illegally, purposely misleading or wrongfully. This is a belief rather than a fact found on their balance sheet. The money trail cannot prove the morality of their work...only how they manage the money.

    You know I only have Godly love for you and I respect your beliefs, however, I do believe that it is a factual statement that adoptions agencies profit from adoptions as this is their business. Additionally, recognizing that adoptions agencies profit from adoptions does not necessarily mean all children are obtained illegally or wrongfully or that adoption is not a viable solutions. Realizing the mistakes made in the past and the possibly motivations though is necessary in order to make positive changes.

    I know you want the very BEST for Korea and support your efforts! Your dedication and passion to improve the Korean laws and practices will make a difference!

  2. HI KWB! Enjoy reading your blog! We just got back from Korea, and I'm so tired. Actually, the opposite of tired since it's 5 a.m... but it's just the jetlag. Humph.

  3. Korean War BabyNovember 09, 2009

    I agree that this is only two years, so yes it is myoptic. The adoption fees seem to be only part of the revenue, and we must remember that the Domestic Adoptions do 'pay less' much less. I DO dispute the fact that Holt makes profit and eagerly wish to hear from anyone with more proof.
    One point I am looking at is that Holt placed quite a few Domestic adoptions (717 in Birth Country) vs. 818 in US families. Then 34,295 Children in all programs plus 10,451 Families served. The more I look into the programs, I see more than "Baby Trafficking". Holt was one of the first to place domestic adoptees and encourages openness (telling the child that they were adopted).
    I also "love you in the Lord" and respect your beliefs, follow your journey (Please click on btstorm2006 and you will go to KAD to KAD for a gut-wrenching first-person experience).

    Is it really "factual statement that adoptions agencies profit from adoptions as this is their business."? What does it mean "profit from adoptions"? Any NGO or group trying to help such as World Vision, Feed the Children, UNESCO, other UN organization MUST operate like a business.

    As someone who tried IVF In vitro fertilization with his first wife and failed 3 times the KWB and his spouse had to then consider the next option. Adoption does fill the needs and desires of the 20% of couples who have trouble having a child. Some make it seem that ALL adoptions are to fill the infertile couples. That is not the case, as many Adoptive Families have taken children in addition to their own.

    One of the inconvenient truths are that babies are still "Given up" for many reasons at all ages, and the "demand" is not always just for infertile couples. Every year Special Needs children are adopted outside of the arbitrary quotas set on ICA because they are not wanted by most Koreans. Also, some half-breeds like the KWB are born and find themselves abandoned.

    What the KWB would like to see is more facts and figures on the 1.5 Billion dollar Adoption Industry. Any links? Welcome all facts, rumors, links, suggestions and criticisms. Thank you for your comments.