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 20, 2009

Screams for Help

Screams for Help



Seoul Subway line 4-Going home to Ansan City

The Korean War Baby should have left earlier! It was almost 11 pm, would there be one last subway train to his destination? Just as he reached the platform at the transfer station at ISU he saw a train pulling out. Nuts!! Missed it by that much…wait…many people still here, that meant the train was only going to Sadang then reversing direction back north. There must be another one going to Oido or Ansan, which are both past his station, whew, made it.

Groups of commuters filled the platform; high school girls in their uniforms (stop looking); businessmen in disheveled suits after socializing with their peers; university students joking with one another; sleepy ‘Ahjumas’ and ‘Ahjohshis’ (Older women-over 35’ish and older men); It was just another Saturday Night in Seoul, Republic of Korea.

It had been good to see some old expat friends at 3 Alley Pub, his favorite ‘watering hole’ with the most beers on draft in the whole city. San Miguel beer from the Philippines, ON DRAFT? This was living! And the sirloin steak was perfect tonight, the touch of Western culture that he always missed, (even though the meat was from Australia). Stayed away from the Dice Game, too many shots of Jagermeister in that game, win or lose. The KWB had early classes tomorrow, yes on Sunday, no rest for the blessed.

“Hey, you handsome bastard, have a shot of Jager with me!” Albert, one of the owners of 3 Alley Pub, called out to the KWB. “Of course, one more for the road with you”, the KWB replied, "Jagermeister IS good for the body and soul." Yes, it was always great to see all the other Victims of Korean Wives (VKW), with over 200 ex-pat members who are married to Korean women. We get discounts on draft beer when we wear our VKW shirts on Saturday Nights. (Nicholas Cage is an honorary member and has visited the 3 Alley.)

Aiiiiyaaaahh! Uggghh, ugggh, aaaaahh!” Piercing screams suddenly shattered his thoughts- “My God, what is THAT?” Down the platform, people were reacting to the creening wailing animal-like screams, scattering like frightened birds from the source of the plaintive howls. Yelling that sent chills down one’s back, like the howls of wolves.

It had to be from near the elevator, out of sight, but the direction of the stares gave the KWB the place, and without much thought, the KWB moved towards the elevator. The high-pitched wails sounded like, what? Yes, a ‘frightened child, separated from it’s mother’.

The Korean War Baby KNEW those cries, deep in his own spirit, cries of despair…desperation…Abandonment. At five years old he was suddenly separated from his Korean mother, who had no recourse to raise two mixed-blood children. Yes, that was it, someone was screaming out in total despair and agony. At full volume, continuously screaming, not in Korean words, but in groans from deep in the psyche, torn by pain and a shattered spirit. Yes, he knew the “Kibun”, a Korean word that means ‘spirit, emotions, feelings’, of those cries within himself. He must respond, for nobody else was going to help.

Several people were calling on their cell phones, looking in disgust or derision, nervously laughing now that danger seemed unlikely. The high school girls looked towards the source of the screaming, almost giggling not in meanness but with no understanding. As the KWB rounded the corner cautiously he saw a young Korean man. There, crouched down on the floor clutching his knees and leaning against the wall was a slightly built man, twenty-something, eyes tightly shut, banging his head firmly into the wall. He wore a backpack that was very full, clutching a stack of paper coke cups, a water bottle, and a subway map.




One businessman cautioned with a wave of his hand, “Anio! Mit Cho So, (Don’t, he’s crazy!)” The young man rocked back and forth on his heels, his screams unabated in volume. “What is wrong with him? Maybe he is Autistic, or some other mental illness,” thought the KWB to himself. Removing his glasses and placing his own bag down, he carefully approached as he had experience with people suddenly lashing out violently. He silently prayed for help and guidance. Then, a memory from the past flashed in his mind, almost the same situation years ago…”

To be continued…
Be very careful when you see such public displays of violence. Persons under the influence of drugs, alcohol, psychosis, etc do not distinguish friend from foe. The KWB has much experience in such matters…on both sides of the fence.
Warning Signs of Violent Behavior
Autism
Agression Causes

2 comments:

  1. Your writing renders me speechless, humbles me, and gives me much to think about. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Margie, No, YOUR writing has inspired me and so many others. Your contributions give another vital point of view, from Adoptive Moms and Dads.

    To all, click on "Margie" and check out some Real great writing, from the heart of a Third Mom.

    ReplyDelete

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