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 13, 2009

Women Become Victims of Expectation Game

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Women Become Victims of Expectation Game
Korea Times-hkang@koreatimes.co.kr

“With the term "alpha girls" becoming a media buzzword, working moms in most cultures are burned out. Harvard University psychologist Dan Kindlon coined the term of an alpha girl to refer to a woman who doesn't feel limited by her sex and is a person first and then a woman.
The primary role of women in the home virtually hasn't changed over the past decades, but they are asked to commit more at work, making them the victims of the expectation game.
For women at work, balancing work and household duties gets tougher as time goes by, and the hostile environment, gender experts say, is mainly responsible for falling birth rates in some advanced countries such as Korea, Germany, Japan and Italy.”

“German Ambassador to Korea Hans-Ulrich Seidt shared the view that contemporary women have become victims of the expectation game as the male-dominated society has changed in a way that has encouraged highly-educated women to play an active role in labor markets as well as the community.
"Korea and Germany share similar experiences in the patterns of economic growth and birth rates over the past decades," he said in an interview with The Korea Times last week.”


The Korean War Baby notes that the article goes on to show some countries have higher birth rates, due to less stress of taking care of children. France, Norway, and Sweden, all have an increasing higher  birthrate. This begs the question: Why and How?

“Empirical studies show that women in reproductive countries are less stressed than their counterparts in countries fighting falling fertility rates when reconciling their duties at home and work.
 

According to a National Assembly Budget Office (NABO) report released last week, the governments of countries with high TFR introduced supportive work and family policies a long time ago, shouldering part of working women's household duties.


Those governments set up many public daycare centers, sponsored preschool programs and encouraged spouses to have parental leave.”

READ the FRENCH MODEL:

France subsidized children and families from pregnancy to young adulthood with the supportive measures, which caused the nation to become the leader in terms of TFR.jeon-jae-hee-2009-8-28-0-40-55
Earlier, Minister of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Jeon Jae-hee, said she has looked closely at the French style of work and family policies to tackle falling birth rates here.
 
Her remark drew skepticism from some economists because of the financial burden that the government should shoulder. Economists say approximately $12.5 billion will be needed to fulfill Minister Jeon's commitment, adding this is almost unfeasible.



Aha!! More support for women with children, daycare centers, sponsored preschool programs, etc. HEY! Here’s a great idea, UNWED MOTHERS could also have some help raising their children. By helping ALL women have less stress about working with young children, birthrate would go up. Yes, it will cost a bundle, but long range thinking must be considered for the benefit of the nation, and ALL its citizens. (Better than blaming women for remaining single…next post).
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