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.


October 6, 2009

Domestic vs. Overseas Korean Adoption « TRACK

From Jane Jeong Trenka at Truth and Reconcilation for the Adoptee Community of Korea (TRACK)
Domestic vs. Overseas Korean Adoption « TRACK
image
Domestic and Inter-Country Adoptions 1999-2008
Year
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
Dom.
1726
1686
1770
1694
1564
1641
1461
1332
1388
1306
ICA
2409
2360
2436
2365
2287
2258
2101
1899
1264
1250
Jane writes in her blog: Jane's Blog
and JusticeSpeaking-TRACK
“Despite a lot of positive publicity, domestic adoption is actually going DOWN, very steadily, in South Korea. The government should use its funds to support single moms in raising their children whom they love, and who have a home already — not promote domestic adoption.  Check out the statistics at”
(Underlining by the KWB)

Korean War Baby comments:
The Korean War Baby Concurs-Domestic Adoptions continue to drop in overall numbers. He also agrees that the Korean Government MUST INCREASE support for single unwed Mothers who want to KEEP their babies.
FURTHERMORE, Government should also continue to Promote Domestic Adoptions.
THEN promote Ethnic Koreans of the Diaspora world wide to adopt (ICA).
Finally, allow Others to adopt, meaning “Rich White Folks” (I am just kidding most are really middle class under even Pres. Obama’s 250,000 income level for RICH). Or Westerners period say Europeans.

Domestic Adoptions, according to Steven Morrison of Mission to Promote Adoption by Koreans (MPAK), tells me about 80% are still done Secretly and the child is never told that he/she was adopted. He acknowledges that this is unfortunate but the way most Koreans prefer to do it. Even in Korean families in the USA, many go to elaborate means to ‘hide and pretend’ that the new baby is theirs. This is because of the society’s feeling of shame concerning adoption. It sound wrong to westerners but understandable in Korean society. It is slowly, slowly changing.
But many adoptees are discovering “What the hell? I am adopted?! Igooo Cham!”  They will suffer the shock of finding out, overhearing relatives, being teased that they don’t really LOOK like their siblings or parents, a sense of knowing something is wrong, or even through blood tests.
Late Discovery Adoptee has many stories of those who found out at various ages that they had been adopted.
Post Adoption Research Center in New South Wales, Australia, also provide resources

Sliding Scale
You SEE, a sliding scale of priorities and Reality is ACTUALLY happening NOW.
Look again at the numbers!!
Domestic- 1306/ ICA- 1250
Well that means that, hmmm add together,
2,556 babies were born and GIVEN UP for Adoption in 2008
Now many other Unwed mothers chose to try and keep their babies. According to MOHWFA (Ministry of Health Welfare and Family Affairs) and other sources 20-25% of Unwed Mothers are keeping their babies.
This could mean over 500 babies. Perhaps Pastor Kim of KoRoot or Jane could help me with more accurate figures.
Hey the Korean War Baby talks to EVERYBODY! Let’s work together on this whole issue. Maybe we could even get Korean teens and university student to use condoms and abstinence….Nah.
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