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 23, 2009

Drums?! You Have Drums!!

Drums?! You have drums?!

 

Flashback:
The memory came rushing back of that first time, he walked, no he ran into a church, ran into Church! Can you imagine that? Walking into the warehouse building, they were fifteen minutes early. People rapidly flowed in as they opened the doors, rushing inside almost like they were going to a Baseball game. This WAS church, wasn’t it? The Vineyard Christian Fellowship, late 1985, was born of the Jesus Movement in the mid ‘70s, yet a cross-section of Southern California.

Uncle Wayne had introduced Tim, who was a typical “Surfer dude”. Tim was leading the way with his wife, as the Korean War Baby rushed to keep up. Excitement and energy filled the large room, already half-full and filling up as people of all ages streamed in from many doors. Tim lead us right up to the left hand section, where the Large Ministry Teams had reserved six rows for them.
 
What is that? Up on the simple stage the worship band was tuning their guitars; bass, rhythm, lead, and acoustic. Eddie Espinosa was leading worship that night I remember, he looked up and eyed us, nodding towards Tim.

“That’s a Rock band! A Drum set?! You have  drums!” The lead guitarist went through a rift and the bass joined in. The KWB looked around, several long haired hippie types stood next to well dressed upper class types. They were already bobbing back and forth, clapping in time with the band. The crowd was a definitely Southern California, across age, class, ethnicity, fashionable to pure laid back surfer dudes and babes.
 
A roar of pure pleasure went up…after Eddie called out over the mic, “You guys ready to worhip the Lord?” Most were standing, while others quietly sat, in minutes most seats were filled. The drummer played the intro to the first song of celebration. Some of the lyrics to the first song, “You brought me to this place” hit home.

The KWB knew, just knew that THIS is the place, he felt at home. God HAD led him to this unusual church, where they worshipped with songs of celebration, praise, hey, they really liked church. Songs sung TO GOD not just ABOUT him.

They were more personal, in the second person, “You are My King, and I love You”, “You are mine and I am Yours”, “Jesus, I love You”, “Change my heart, oh God”, “In your Arms of Love”. Sounded like Love Songs…to God! Many people were crying, laughing, dancing, sitting, or jumping, doing whatever they wanted to do. Totally free worship. This was weird but cool, he thought as he scanned the crowd.

Reverse Culture Shock!
 
The KWB had just arrived three weeks before from the Philippines, going through reverse-culture shock after living outside the country for ten years. He felt like Rip Van Winkle, staring at the scanner at the grocery store, until the checker lady asked him, “Are you visiting our country sir?” (Are you from some backward country or Mars? She meant). “Oh, No…I heard about these but they don’t have them yet in the Philippines, I’m American but I have been out of the country for a long time!”, he answered slightly embarrassed.

He had bought a car, license to drive, bought clothes, settled into his Aunt Anna and Uncle Wayne’s home in Long Beach. When Uncle Wayne asked him about a church, he introduced him to Tim just down the street, noting that I might like the church, more contemporary in style. (You Think? This was blowing my doors off!)
 
The sermon by John Wimber was cool, simple and easy to understand. John had been a musician and promoter of some well known bands before getting saved. VCF had started just in 1977 and in 1985 had exploded in growth. John then gave a call for those wanting prayer to come forward. Hey, this is just like an Evangelical church, an altar call. Tim and the other Large Ministry Team members spread out among the people who crowded into and filled the front area.

Then John prayed a simple prayer, “Holy Spirit, Come…Come and touch your people”, as the music played softly. In moments a woman cried out in a long wailing groan; others sank down, some burst into tears, some smiled as if experiencing great pleasure. Team members went around and “blessed what they saw God doing” touching on the shoulders or forehead lightly. Soon many were crying profusely, with tears and runny noses dripping snot down their faces.

Tears and Snot, running down their faces!
 
OH, why doesn’t somebody DO something, they had Kleenex boxes on the edge of the stage,” thought the KWB, remembering the many times he had wept in guilt and remorse over the last year since THAT night, on March 2. Boxes of Kleenex were placed on the stage, but no one was handing them out.
 
The KWB had to do something, he jumped up and grabbed a box of Kleenex, went to Tim and pressed several into his hands. The woman, the Prayee, had a huge snot hanging down from her nose. Tim gingerly ‘caught’ the snot, nodded thanks and encouraged him to pass out more to others.

Hey, you know what they say, “Dirty job, but somebody has to do it”. He went around to people and quietly pressed tissues into their hands, or gave them to team members. One woman on the stage was observing him and smiled at the KWB, then gave him a ‘thumbs up’. Turned out she was John Wimber’s wife. Thus began the KWB first calling, as the ‘Kleenex Man’, coined by John’s wife. 

He began to attend church three times a week, then four, five times, finally everyday they opened the doors. He volunteered for the “tape lending booth”, coming in for half days 3 days a week, easy since he worked the night shift as a security guard. (From movies then reduced to a security guard! Oh, the horror!).
In the small alcove of the Tape Lending Booth, he was making copies and mailing cassette tapes to people all over the country. One perk was he could listen for free to every teaching tape he wanted. In one month’s time he was no longer known as Tim’s friend, everyone knew him as “Kleenex guy” or “Tape Cassette man”.
What is happening to her?
It was in the seventh week, that “IT” happened. Something weird happened, something he had seen before, a power encounter, darkness against light…the event would radically change the level of his involvement to a new plane.
A Chinese-American girl… smiling sweetly and “receiving God’s love” one moment, then...all hell breaking loose!
(To Be continued)
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