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 2, 2009

Official Site of Korea Tourism Org.: Chuseok – Full Moon Harvest Holiday, Korean Version of Thanksgiving Day

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Official Site of Korea Tourism Org.: Chuseok – Full Moon Harvest Holiday, Korean Version of Thanksgiving Day

Chuseok is one of Korea’s most largely celebrated holidays. It is a time when families and friends gather to share food and enjoy their time together, giving thanks to their ancestors for the year’s bountiful harvests. This year, Korea’s representative traditional holiday of Chuseok falls on September 14th of the solar calendar. It will last three days, from September 13th to September 15th and marks a prime opportunity for foreign visitors to tour Korea’s cities and experience Korea’s culture while all the bustling crowds are away visiting family relatives. Let us look a little deeper in to what Chuseok represents for Koreans.
Chuseok (Hangawi)
As one of Korea’s three major holidays, the other two being Seollal (New Year’s Day) and Dano (the 5th of the 5th month of the year according to the lunar calendar), Chuseok is also referred to as Hangawi, which means the very middle of August, or August 15th according to the lunar calendar. As an agrarian society throughout history, Hangawi was the day in which Koreans thanked the ancestors for the year’s harvest and shared their abundance with family and friends. Although the exact origin of Chuseok is unclear, Chuseok can be traced back to a religion related to the moon from ancient times. The sun was considered natural, but the full moon that came once a month to brighten the dark night was seen as a grateful presence. Therefore, festivities took place on the day of the largest full moon, on August 15th of the lunar calendar, and thus became, and is to this day, one of the most important days of celebration.
Chuseok Customs
On the morning of Chuseok Day, Songpyeon (type of Korean rice cake) and food prepared with the year’s fresh harvest are imagearranged to give thanks to ancestors through Charye (ancestor memorial service). After Charye, families visit their ancestors’ graves and engage in Beolcho, where weeds around the burial grounds are removed. As the night nears, families and friends enjoy the beautiful view of the full harvest moon and play folk games such as Ganggangsullae (Korean circle dance).

- Beolcho (removing weeds around the grave) and Seongmyo (visiting ancestral graves). Visiting ancestral graves during Chuseok is known as ‘Seongmyo’ and during this visit, family members imageusually cut the weeds that have grown around the graves in the summer season. Taking care of the ancestral graves such as removing weeds is called ‘Beolcho’. This custom is considered a duty and an expression of devotion. On the weekends, about one month prior to the Chuseok holidays, Korea’s highways become extremely congested with families visiting their ancestral graves to fulfill their ancestral duties.

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- Ganggangsullae (Korean circle dance)
Mothers and daughters dressed in hanbok (traditional Korean dress) gather around in a circle, holding hands, and sing together. This dance originated from the Joseon Dynasty during the Japanese invasion when the Korean army dressed Korean mothers and daughters in military uniforms and had them circle a mountain peak to make the Japanese think the Korean military was greater in number than it actually was. Through this strategy, the Koreans were eventually able to defeat the Japanese.











- Chuseokbim (Chuseok dress)
Traditionally on Chuseok, the head of the household would buy newimage clothes for everyone, including the servants. This custom was known as Chuseokbim. Usually, a traditional hanbok is worn, but nowadays newly purchased clothes are not limited to hanbok. Today, families put on a modern type of hanbok called Chuseokbim and hold Charye services, and afterwards, they enjoy their time together.
Chuseok Food
Chuseok is a time for rich plentiful harvests. Therefore there are many fruits and newly harvested rice with which rice, tteok, and drinks are made from.
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- Songpyeon
Songpyeon is one of the representative snacks of Chuseok. This rice cake is prepared with rice or non-glutinous rice powder that is kneaded into the perfect size, then filled with sesame seeds, beans, red beans, chestnuts, and a host of other nutritious foods. When steaming the songpyeon, the bottom of the rice cakes are layered with pine needles, which fill the rice cakes with their delightful fragrance. On the evening of Chuseok Eve, the entire family gathers together to make songpyeon under the bright moon. There is an old Korean saying that says that the person who makes the most beautiful songpyeon will meet a good-looking spouse. Therefore, the single members of the family try their best to make the nicest looking songpyeon as they laugh out loud in merriment.   
Click here to view how to make Songpyeon
- Alcoholic Beverages
Another major element of Chuseok is the alcoholic beverages. Thisimage traditional Chuseok drink is made of newly harvested rice and is also known as “The Hundred Year” Drink. People who look forward to this major holiday are also rich in generosity and like to share their generosity over drinks. Soju, makoli, dongdong-ju, beer domestic and foreign, whiskeys, scotch, all kinds of wines, spirits are consumed in abundance.
Korean War Baby comments:
Chuseok is like American Thanksgiving, Harvest Moon celebrations throughout the world, and Christmas all rolled into one. Children expect to receive envelopes of cash from their elder relatives, gifts of food and drinks are given to employees, friends, relatives. It was common in times past to give common commodities like canned food, soaps, oils, etc. Kind of like reminding people of the past when Korea was rising from the  ashes of the Korean War.

Celebrate your Korean culture by visiting sites about Korea. Google “Chusok or Chuseok” and find out more information to learn about this major cultural event that will give you more understanding about the ways of our mother’s and father’s way of life.

In 14 years of living in Korea, even the last four being married to a Korean woman, unfortunately I have never experienced the full joys of Chuseok. Modern times have changed the practices so much. Perhaps only 10-15% wear the traditional clothes and do the elabrate ceremonies. It is a time of families coming together and that is always a good thing.
KoreanTeacher_2007 
(Korean War Baby-2 years ago, with colored hair, trying to look younger for my wife)

DGB_CUBest
Happy Chuseok to all 



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