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.

November 29, 2009

Salt Doll

Salt Doll -- translation of another oriental poem
By mia_ms_kim
01 March 2008
This is another poem by Shiva Ryu, for those who wanted some more. I took some liberty in translating this poem. In translating, I sacrifice correctness of vocabulary and grammar in order to convey the overall meaning of the piece, and hopefully the writer's intention. (I just hope I read Ryu correctly.) It is a pen name, a Korean name, if faithfully translated 'Shi-Hwa Ryu'. His real name is 'Jae-Hyuk Ahn'.

Salt Doll

“To know the depth of the sea,

The Doll of Salt has gone to the sea.

To know the depth of you,

I have gone into your blood.

I've melted down as a Doll of Salt.”

Notes from the Korean War Baby:

How lovely and somewhat tragic this poem seems, yet I have read of other Salt Doll poems
and they reveal other thoughts. ‘To know the depth of you’, I feel that to understand 
This Thing of Ours-Adoption, I am melting into a collective “YOU”, into the very essence
of our being. Does that make sense? How about ‘gone into your blood’ to me means to try 
and understand the culture of all our heritage parts.

Anthony de Mello, an Indian Catholic priest, wrote on this version about the ‘salt doll that arrives at the ocean after a long and arduous journey. The sea looks so inviting that the doll jumps into it. As the salt doll wades into the water, it starts to dissolve. But rather than trying to get back to dry land, the doll smiles happily and says “At last I know what I really am!”.’

Germaine Hornsby (as told to her by Sandeep Chatterjee, who heard it at Gangotri in the Himalayas)

“A salt doll journeyed for thousand of miles and stopped at the edge of the sea. It was fascinated by this moving liquid mass, so unlike anything it had seen before. "What are you" asked the salt doll. "Come in and see" replied the sea with a smile. So the salt doll waded in. The further it went, the more it dissolved till there was only a pinch of it left. Before the last bit dissolved the doll exclaimed in wonder, "Now I know what I am ".

Another “Salt Doll” story: Here

“Then one day she came to the edge of the sea and was quite astounded by the restless surging mass of water. 'What are you?' she cried. 'Touch me and you will find out,' answered the sea. So the little salt doll stuck her toe in, and had a truly lovely sensation. But when she withdrew her foot, the toe had disappeared. 'What have you done to me?' she cried. 'You have given something of yourself in order to understand,' the sea replied.

"The little salt doll decided that if she really wanted to know the sea, she would have to give more of herself. So next she stuck in her whole foot, and everything up to her ankle disappeared. Surprisingly, in an inexplicable way, she felt very good about it. So she continued going further and further into the sea, losing more and more of her self, all the while understanding the sea more deeply. As a wave broke over the last bit of her, the salt doll was able to cry out, 'Now I know what the sea is. It is I.' "

The KWB thinks this stuff is well, deep...yet simple, uhh, like the sea! (Hey he is just a simple guy trying to figure this all out.) 

Not all Adoptees want to search. Some may never do so, for various reasons they just don’t want to know. Even to begin a search can be daunting, we can question whether to ‘rock the boat’ or offend our birth family. There are no clear answers.

Some Adoptees find the search becomes so intense and are so driven that they begin to ‘dissolve’, melting down emotionally. Our souls go through breakdowns, reversals, pauses, stops and fits. Perhaps discovery of others leads to happiness…or rejection.

Each of us must learn from others who have put out there in cyberspace or books their own journeys.

The KWB is still in the process of melting into the sea; he has found that he is part of a greater Sea of Life. As he continues to discover he must completely melt and merge with the Allness of humanity, past, present, and future. He still cannot understand it all, just pieces of it.

In the Afterlife, according to Christian teachings, he will Know All Truth. The Adoption as a Child of God will make sense then. It will become real only after he has melted completely. Is this death, or ‘becoming part of the sea once more’?

As we "dissolve into the process” hopefully each one will “Know what I am, it is I”. Where ever you are in the process, put your toe into the sea, to lose yourself may lead to discovering yourself and becoming one with the sea. 

November 28, 2009

“Epic of The Seventh Daughter”-Part 5

Abandoned Princess-Bari Gong Ju
Part 5

7-gut for Korean Woman5Image by Judilee via Flickr

Last year when I wrote this for my student, I had found the fascinating tale of “The Abandoned Princess-Bari GongJu” and it resonated with my own spirit and soul. Here in Korean Folklore was the story of a seventh daughter who was thrown away literally, Bari da 바리다 literally means "to throw away/abandon".

The story is based on a Chosen King of the 17th century. The people believed that a 7th daughter would have 'insight into the spiritual realm' like a medium and in Korea the Shaman religion has mostly Women priestess called Mudangs.

The Story is link is found on the first part of this series on "Abandoned Princess-Bari Gong Ju". She was found and adopted by non-blood related but ethnically same people.

Korean society still does not chose to adopt openly, over 97 % of present Civil (done in a Civil Court) and Domestic adoptees do NOT get told that they are adopted. This story is loosely based on both the tale of the Abandoned Princess and my student. She has asked to remain anonymous because some of her family do not know the truth. She is not actually a seventh daughter (this is from the folktale only) but her story fits many of us, whether Korean or other adoptees.

It continues to be my hope and prayer that all adoptees find some help in their quest for Self-Identity and understanding of their own “Story”. Each of us are similar, yet uniquely different. We can learn from each other and grow in healing, in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.


Epic of The Seventh Daughter”
Part 5
Attacks continued from her half-brothers,
Their greed grew larger and stronger.
Elders, they were leaders in their church,
They took complete control of the company, wanted even more.
Only her father’s careful planning provided for them.

One day, the doctors asked for a transfusion,
They needed more blood for a surgery.
But when Lucky was tested there was confusion.
“The types were wrong, they don’t match.
Were you adopted?”

Some people are thoughtless, speaking their mind,
She had overheard words in the past, that caused some pain.
“Doesn’t look like either of her parents at all”,
“Could be she was not… you know, natural
These words cut like a knife but she just ignored them.

Lucky knew her parents were loving and kind.
Her mother protected her from idol gossip.
Her father’s children had different opinions,
The daughters considered Lucky like family.
But the sons resented Lucky and their stepmother.

Day by day her father grew weaker,
Still he could only remember his wife,
Silently, Lucky suffered but never did her love falter,
Her filial duties were fulfilled as the ‘only child’,
But great was her pain and despair at life.

Then one day a call, from a stranger,
Burst upon her, like a thunderstorm.
An unfamiliar voice asking probing questions,
Making a bold and reckless claim.
Like a bolt of lightning it shattered her world.

The woman said, “I think you are my sister,
I’ve searched for you so long.”
“You must be mistaken, how can it be?”
But Lucky knew deep in her heart,
It just might be true.

Questions on blood types, and birthmarks
Seemed to confirm the strange story.
Shock turned to surprise as she heard
She was the seventh daughter.
Her siblings includes two younger brothers.

“I need some time….to think this through”,
Lucky was filled with a multitude of feelings.
She took down the name and phone number,
Promised to call, then sought out her mother,
“Mother….we need to talk.”

Mother and daughter talked through the night,
Lucky found out how she was ‘chosen’.
Chosen from many, the parents both agreed,
On the special girl with such a cute smile.
They made their choice, taken her as their own child.

“We never told you, because of your father’s children.
Your father wanted them never to know.”
“I am not your ‘real’ mother” she said hesitantly,
“But I loved you like my own flesh and blood.”
“No, you will always be my Real mother” cried Lucky.

Though they were not of flesh and blood,
They were bonded by love, tempered in strife.
Mother and Daughter, their love stood the test.
Then one cold winter day, the man she knew as Father,
Slipped away…Unimaginable sorrow and grief.

After the ordeal of the wake and funeral,
Lucky stayed home with her mother.
Trying to sort out all the thoughts and emotions.
Intense disbelief, “Must be a mistake,
A mix-up of identities, similar name maybe?”

Confusion and despair flooded Lucky’s mind,
“I don’t know who I am any more!
Nothing makes sense. Who am I?”
Anger arises, “I was living a Lie,
Who else knew? Did the half-brothers always know?”

Bitterness and hostile thoughts towards God.
“God, how can you let this happen!
My older brothers, acting like saints,
Tried to destroy us, they caused the man
I knew as Father to have a stroke!”

Sorrow at her Loss as Lucky realizes,
All her relationships are changed.
The knowledge affects how she sees people.
Never the same, as in the past.
Because she is Not who she thought she was…

Lucky goes to a Buddhist temple.
She must find the answers.
Seeking some meaning, what is her life about?
Day by day, night by night,
Thoughts spin in cycles, finally slowing down.

Over and over again, she remembers the surprise,
Then Shock at the growing revelation, a bombshell.
Trying to avoid the inevitable,
She tried to deny it could be even be true.
Only her “Adoptive” mother’s confession convinced her.

Then Anger flared, Frustrations burst,
An outpouring of bottled up emotions.
Overwhelming hate, blinding rage!
“Why…How…What happened? Who did this to me,
Where are they, who ruined my life!”

In vain Lucky sought a way out,
She bargained with her mind.
Then finally her thoughts settled, slowly,
In the solace and peace of the mountains,
Lucky made peace with her soul.

Feelings of betrayal begin to fade,
Some things in the past, made sense now.
Spoken words, overheard, understood finally.
“Who AM I…still the same person.
I will survive, somehow, I must go on.”

Down from the mountains, back to life’s struggle.
Lucky had come to acceptance.
The cycle of Grief, roller-coaster ride,
Became bearable and sanity returned.
She must test real solutions, find a way forward.

Lucky assured her “real” mother,
Let her know that their Love would never diminish.
Her plan was to call the sixth birth sister.
With her mother’s blessing, Lucky made the call.
The birth sister had been eagerly waiting.

YouTube Video

Korean Shaman-Mudang (most are women, some men)

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Man Fined for Slandering Indian

Image via Wikipedia

Back In Seoul!!!
The KWB is back in Seoul, getting settled back into the grind of teaching. Quick post on this Seoul Special Citybecause it indirectly fits the sloooooowly changing attitudes of Korean Society in today’s “globalization” push.
Man Fined for Slandering Indian
“A Korean man was fined 1 million won ($855) Friday for insulting an Indian professor. This is the first time in Korea that a person has been punished for racist remarks…for humiliating the foreigner through abusive and racial language on a bus in July.
After the incident, the 28-year-old Indian professor accused Park of calling him ``dirty'' and ``smelly.'' Initially, police allegedly discouraged the foreign professor from filing a complaint but he persisted.
Police filed a personal insult charge against Park as there is no appropriate clause in Korea's Criminal Law against this kind of an offense. Park even insulted his Korean female friend…asking whether she is happy to date a black man.
How is this related, you ask? There is no appropriate clause in Korea’s Criminal Law…and why not we ask? Because there is no law, there is no punishment for a ‘crime’ is not committed. This is a good, not great, day for setting a precedent. With now over 1.2 million legal foreign ‘devils’ living in Korea and many mixed marriages, it is about time for making laws to punish those who rain verbal abuse and get away with it. How about a real law under Human Rights? Hmmm, for the global community.
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November 24, 2009

Your Blood Is My Blood

Why do you blog? Well, that is a great question that many have asked me since I started my own blog last April, 2009. If you have read "My Story" you know that I was one of the early Korean Adoptees who left the Land of the Morning Calm to other lands. My American father was of Apache/Mexican/Spanish heritage and my Korean mother gave me her family name, JUN.

I grew up in Los Angeles area, at first in mostly 'white suburan' areas then in mixed neighborhoods. I was always mistaken for a 'Mestizo' (Spanish mixed-blood) and some even asked "what Native American tribe do you belong to", and I did not know. I would give 'my story' of adoption from Korean, no not Japanese, or Chinese, the country in-between.

My life has been quite unusual, even weird but exciting. I have done many jobs, from dish washing, carpentry, to acting in B-movies in the Philippines, and for the last 12 years taught English to my mother's people. I tried to learn Korean, and thought since I left at five years old it would 'magically' come back to me. Alas, I gave up trying to learn more than survival phrases after most Koreans looked shocked that the foreign guy is trying to speak  "their language".

Who am I? I am proud to be an American by naturalization, served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, consider myself a 'compassionate Republican'. Even after 14 years of living in Korea, I know that my identity as a Korean is very limited. Korean people do not consider me, well, to be blunt, a "real Korean".

Since 1995 I have lived here in Seoul, Republic of Korea, a land torn in two by war. I was only going to stay a year but couldn't leave for many reasons. I got involved with the beginnings of an adoptee's group started by Ami Nafzger and a group of fellow adoptees from Europe and the Americas.

Global Oversea's Adoptee's Link just celebrated in 2008 their tenth anniversary of helping adoptees when they come to their motherland in search of identity with Korea and some to look into searching for their birth family. I was one of the "founding members" yet did nothing more than come to all the meetings. Ami and others did most of the work to bring recognition from the Korean government.

I married a Korean woman in 2005, a 'public servant' who carries a real revolver, (I am not supposed to tell you she is a Lieutenant in the National Police Force...Oops). I missed several GOA'L conventions and monthly meetings because we lived 2 hours out of Seoul. I thought I am now just too old for the mostly 20's to 30's generation of adoptees coming here.

"Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in." Al Pacino says in The God-Father II. Last year, I met a Domestic Korean Adoptee who recently discovered late in life that she had been adopted. It was quite a shock to her when her natural sister called her, after finding paperwork of her being given away secretly. I discovered that there is a Korean folk story of "The Abandoned Princess-Bari Gong Ju" who was literally thrown away by a Chosen King because she was an unlucky 7th daughter. She was found by a childless old couple and raised up, to be found herself by her birth sister taken back to the palace and save her father and mother. Every child in Korea has heard this story. 

I began to search the internet on adoption, abortion, domestic and overseas adoption, open and closed adoptions, etc. The more I studied the more complex this thing of ours-adoption became to me. So much information, what could I do with it? I read numerous 'adoptee's blogs' both Pro and Con on adoption, and wondered, "What do I do with all this knowledge...I don't know how to 'blog'!"

Then I came across "Your Blood is My Blood" (first post) a new blog done by a "Spoken Word artist", a young American woman who is a domestic adoptee herself. Jessenia is so fresh, outspoken, sure of herself, speaks out of her heart, and just down right 'on target', she blew my doors off. Jessenia has been changing some lives forever as she documents her search and her life's journey, "born in her womb, raised by the streets".

It was her title, Your Blood is My Blood that got my attention first. I had been learning how the new science of genetics has been able to distinguish the differences of ethnic groups. I had come to the discovery that my own blood, my genetic makeup has BOTH the complete DNA of my birth mother and father. Different genes are 'turned on or off' but the DNA "Markers" are present for all our ancestors and this is how they can trace backwards to 'common ancestors'. It is very complex yet I knew this one fact: The blood (genes) of my Korean natural/birth mother IS MY BLOOD. The blood of all mankind is related back to two, the scientist even call them Adam and Eve.

I listened to Jessenia's video Day One...My Journey, I'm Ready as she bravely launched her search. WOW, if she could do this, so could I. So I plunged into the fray!!!  Jessenia is presently in Spain, the country that made the Philippines it's "colony" for 350 years, and I am visiting my old (very old) friends, meeting new friends, and wondering what will be in my future. Go check out this fresh, meaningful "voice of the adoptee's"  'cause she be doing it very well, you will be diggin' what she's saying. Her's is just another voice from "This Thing of Ours-Adoption". Jessenia is MY SISTER in the blogosphere and encouraged me to put out my own voice.

The Korean War Baby, 'we be blogging' from the "streets of passion"-Manila, Philippines. A shout out to all of Jessenia's friends who also do some amazing blogs! Hey, if you are looking into This Thing of Ours-Adoption, read and read, you will find your own path to healing and understanding. Keep on truckin'!!

November 23, 2009

Manila Flooding from Typhoons

There is little one can say, for the pictures do speak louder than mere words. What devastation, complete for so many, yet the Filipino people struggle on. Everyone I speak with have tales to tell, most were spared the worse for they lived on higher ground. Rebuilding shacks in the same area right on the rivers, canals, etc continue, until the next season of floods. Where can they go? Where else can the poorest of the poor live. It is overwhelming to see, yet again I am proud of these people. Mabuhay sa Philippines. 

November 17, 2009

Korea Can No Longer Avoid Frank Discussion of Abortion

The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition)
“…Until the 1960s some 50,000 abortions were performed every year in the U.S. The year after Roe v. Wade, the number surged to 750,000. It rose to 1.6 million in 1980, or about one abortion for every 2.25 live births, and remained at that level since.
According to a 2005 study by the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, an estimated 350,000 abortions are performed in Korea each year, not much less than the 450,000 infants born annually. The medical community believes that the real number of abortions is higher than the official estimate, with some even estimating it to be around 1.5 million per year.

The Korean government implemented aggressive measures to reduce childbirth during the period of rapid industrialization in the 1960s and 70s. Just until 10 years ago, state medical coverage was denied for families giving birth to a third child. Coupled with a widespread preference for male babies, the government and society turned a blind eye to abortions. Now that it has become imperative to raise the country's birth rate, a lot of attention is being paid to the practice. Some experts say that clamping down on abortions and boosting the number of births to 700,000 could solve the low birth rate problem.
Unlike in the U.S. and Europe where the issue is fiercely debated with serious effects on state policies, abortion has largely been kept out of the arena of public discussion in Korea. It was an uncomfortable fact that everybody was aware of.
Recently the Presidential Council for Future and Vision hastily denied media reports that it would include a crackdown on abortions in a policy plan to be announced next week to deal with the low birth rate problem. Abortion is an extremely sensitive issue, which not only involves legal and ethical concerns but also requires considering public perceptions and social attitudes toward it. But we should no longer avoid discussing it openly.
By Chosun Ilbo columnist Oh Tae-jin
Well, indeed…perhaps we shall see the swing back to reducing the number of abortions, whatever the real figures, and the attitudes of the people changing, slowly. Don’t stop praying. Fifty percent of child-bearing women in Korea have had 1 (or more) abortions. This Dirty secret that is not a secret can only change when the Hearts of this nation change. 
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November 15, 2009

Boarding Bridges-Festival Brings Adoptee Artists Together

Festival Brings Adoptee Artists Together
kring-749468 Kring Cultural Complex
Kring Cultural Complex-south of COEX shopping center, DaeChidong, Seoul, Rep. of Korea.

The 1st Art Festival of International Korean Adoptees was  organized by GOA’L, Global Overseas Adoptee’s Link. Overseas Koreans Foundation (OKF), and Life Insurance Philanthropy Foundation, Korean Life Insurance Association, are among the many sponsors that helped.

The theme of Boarding Bridges seems to be that of the boarding bridges at airports that one must go through to get onboard a modern jet airplane. The Adoptee artists were joined by other Korean artists who went abroad to other countries to study art, music, dance, etc. They all had similar experiences of travelling to other countries, though in the case of Korean Adoptees it was under very different circumstances, to say the least.

Belgian guitarist Denis Sungho Janssens was the festival's art director. The curator was Lee Min Young and was assisted by Lee Hangsoon. PR was handed by Cho KyuSook and sponsored by Fleishman-Hilliard. Marc Champod was in charge of Installation installing (?). Translators included Monica Kim and Sebastien Vanderlinden (Park KeeKwang). Numerous GOA’L staff worked countless hours before, during, and after the event. Many Korean volunteers also gave time and energy to bring success to the event.

The booklet is full of excellent commentary on the purpose of the event. The KWB quotes just some:
“The term of “global Korean” is actually describing Korean adoptees very well. Being Korean (by origin) but being American, French, German, etc. defines the lives of many adoptees. But here again, every adoptee has his/her own definition of their identity…it is my hope that this festival contributes to the acknowledgment of the world wide Korean Adoptee community by the Korean society and to the mutual understanding between the two.” GOA’L Secretary General DaeWon Wenger

“I truly congratulate you on the 1st Art Festival of International Korean Adoptees…There are about 7 million Korean people that are living abroad, away from the land they were born and many of them have gone through the history of adversityies to be where they are today…it is my wish that they (international adoptee artists) can interact with many Korean artists through culture and art as “Koreans”. Overseas Koreans Foundation President Kwon Yeong Geon

“Since it’s establishment in 1998, Global Overseas Adoptee’s Link has been a strong supporter for the families of adoptees visiting Korea…Korea Life Insurance Association has gather together to support…in the hope of helping Koreans and Korean adoptees to better understand each other…” Korea Life Insur. Pres. Lee Woo Chul
Curator Lee Min Young wrote:
When I was given the burdensome duty to program the 1st Art Festival for GOA’L, I could not help thinking about the unique identities of adoptees beyond the realm of art…I found that they look just like me, but they certainly are foreigners that use different languages, gestures, and that even walk differently. After a few minutes of conversation I realize…they are the witnesses of Korea’s past history that we have forgotten. It is time we find them in our forgotten history and offer our hands of reconciliation…Boarding Bridges brings multinational artist that have been raised in different cultures…I feel refreshed by more delicate sensibilities of their diverse expressions and narratives…with cold-hearted keenness to observe the reality with endless questioning of their identities and the emotions which they were able to experience more vividly as social minors such as anger, happiness, solitude, beauty, and sadness…each individual artist focuses on their personal stories and “presence” has become an important theme .” Curator Lee MinYoung
Next post, the Korean War Baby will present Art Director Denis Sungho Janssens words. Also a brief of each artist, musicians, dancers, who were part of this Art Festival that attempts to create Boarding Bridges.

BBC NEWS | UK | UK child migrants apology planned

“Gordon Brown is to apologize for the UK's role in sending thousands of its children to former colonies in the 20th century, the BBC has learned.
Under the Child Migrants Programme - which ended just 40 years ago - poor children were sent to a "better life" in Australia, Canada and elsewhere.
But many were abused and ended up in institutions or as labourers on farms.
Officials are consulting with survivors of the programme so that a statement can be made in the new year.
On Monday, Australia's prime minister will apologise to the 7,000 UK migrants living there for the mistreatment.
BBC NEWS | UK | UK child migrants apology planned
The KWB had heard of this before but today, Nov. 15, 2009 Sunday it is headline news on BBC and all the major mainstream media. BBC has done many articles on the history of this Child Migrants Programme.
Ordeal of Australia's Child Migrants
“Most were deported without the consent of their parents, and commonly, mothers and fathers were led to believe that their children had been adopted somewhere in Britain.
On arrival in Australia, the policy was to separate brothers and sisters.
And many of the young children ended up in what felt like labour camps, where they were physically, psychologically and often sexually abused.”
On Monday the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will deliver a national apology to a group known as the "Forgotten Australians".
In so doing, he will recognise, on behalf of the Australian government, the ongoing suffering of some 500,000 people held in orphanages or children's homes between 1930 and 1970.
At the same time, Mr Rudd will also say sorry to some 7,000 child migrants from Britain who live still in Australia - castaways of the empire.
The horrors of life for “castaways” from societies, mistreated from some very bad policies. The case for Korean Adoption is NOT exactly the same. It was though more convenient for past Korean governments to send the unwanted- mixed-blood children, girls because they were not sons, unwed mother’s children, disabled or special needs children, etc.
In the case of UK and Australia, the reasons were similar but different. One cannot draw exact parallels to ALL cases from Korea. By the way, The Korean War Baby says “may God judge those who have or would mistreat the widow and orphans.” The Bible has many verses such as these:
Deu 24:17  "Do not deprive foreigners and orphans of their rights; and do not take a widow's garment as security for a loan.”
Mal 3:5 - “And I will come near you to judgment. And I will be a swift witness against…those who extort from the hired laborer's wages, and turning away the widow, and the orphan, the alien, and not fearing Me, says Jehovah of Hosts.”
Isa 1:23 (GNB) 23- “Your leaders are rebels and friends of thieves; they are always accepting gifts and bribes. They never defend orphans in court or listen when widows present their case.”
The KWB knows that one does not trifle with HIM, lightly or you pay the consequences.

Reform of Adoption Laws-Public Hearing

A generation fights to reform adoption laws - INSIDE JoongAng Daily

“Six Korean adoptees filed an appeal with the Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commission last year to request a probe into irregularities in their adoption documents and possible illegal procedures at local adoption agencies.

The Korean War Baby supports TRACK and ASK, in the spirit of finding Balance and correcting possible wrongs, in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. He believes that everything possible must be done to prevent abuse, kidnapping, falsifying of papers, etc. However, there are many sides to the issues, and all must be heard. Balance can come only after hearing all sides.

It is NOT always the fault of Adoption Agencies, for instance, in the past a child could be abandoned in a public place, kidnapped, ‘given up’ by another family member, and just ‘taken to a police station’. A police report could be made out and “viola”, a child is reported as abandoned. Were children abandoned like this by birthmother? YES. So the answer is a more stringent process of verifying that a child is Not missing. Korea should establish websites for parents to check if their child is missing. For one of the most “wired nations in the world this can be easily done” as the Chinese have just done.

The actual number of cases is low, but it is not important as it is the prevention of such irregularities, abuses, and possible illegal procedures from occurring again in the present and future. Korea signing the Hague Conventions on Adoption and Child Rights would be moves in the right direction.

“Adoptee rights and community groups as well as unwed mothers, the public interest law firm Gong-Gam and Democratic Party Representative Choi Young-hee have joined forces with the adoptees in an effort to convince lawmakers to revise the Special Law Relating to the Promotion and Procedure of Adoption.”

“The proposed bill starts with the idea that foreign, and even domestic, adoption is not the best option for children and that public assistance should be given to mothers to help them raise their children, a concept that follows international adoption practices. It also incorporates the notion that adoption processes need to be more strictly regulated to prevent possible abuses by adoption agencies.

Once more the KWB must point out that it is faulty processes in the past that may have permitted problems. Some cases, more than the six in the law suit of course, have been found to have irregularities. We must refrain from suggesting “All” Adoptions were “robbing babies from their mother”. The inconvenient truth is that due to Korean Society, religions, and strong conservative Family values, a woman is hard pressed to raise her child even in ‘modern times’.

It is “Social prejudices” that are similar in Western societies in the 1950 and ‘60s on many issues that WILL continue to change. Since Divorce became ‘easier and more excepted’ many women’s rights have had to be revised. Names on Family Registry being changed if a divorced woman remarries would have been unnecessary just ten years ago…women did not have the right to be head of household until recently. Child Care for Single Women will have to improve and will help Unwed mothers, who are small in number.

In the end, Laws must be changed, then slowly and hopefully Hearts and Minds of the Korean People will follow. As President Barrack H. Obama recently said, "Change is hard". Hmmm, for once the KWB agrees with his adoptive country's president. See, that is being openminded, seeking balance, and listening to Everyone.
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November 13, 2009

This Thing of Ours-Adoption

IMDb Internet Movie Database
This Thing of Ours
FBI on Organized Crime
La Cosa Nostra

La Cosa Nostra is the foremost organized criminal threat to American society. Literally translated into English it means “this thing of ours.” It is a nationwide alliance of criminals—linked by blood ties or through conspiracy—dedicated to pursuing crime and protecting its members.

Why does the Korean War Baby use this term “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”? Now some have claimed that ALL adoption is bad, that it separates children from their mothers. In some cases indeed mother's gave up their child due to pressure from Family, religious groups, society, lack of government support. It is also true that because the woman was not married she would find it difficult to raise her child. In a few cases the child was literally 'thrown into garbage or toilets'. There is a huge number of reasons that mother and child are separated.

"This Thing of Ours" had great implications because of its meaning represents the Bonds and Close ties that link together all those involved. In the Mafia to say "this is a Friend of MINE" simply meant he was someone who did business with the Family of the "Made Man". A Made Man was a member of the local Family, not just a friend of mine. For another Made Man to be introduced it was said "This is a Friend of OURS" showing he was accepted and sworn to allegiance to "This Thing of OURS". 

"This Thing of Ours-Adoption" also goes beyond just blood-ties, it is transcended by love for those who are not related by blood, the Adoptive Parents and Family. Some have used the term "Adoption Triad" to show the interrelationship of 1- Adoptee 2 Birth Mother/Father/Family then 3 Adoptive Parents/Family. 

This Thing of Ours-Adoption, includes more than the typical Adoption Triad-Adoptee, Birth Mother/Family, Adoptive Parents/Family. For it includes the governments of Sending and Receiving countries, social welfare ministries/workers, Adoption Agencies, Aid Agencies, United Nations groups, Law Enforcement, Judicial systems, etc.It includes the society of both Sending and Receiving countries. The THING is huge, when you look at extended family members even. The KWB feels related to all his numerous cousins-by-adoption, yet longs to meet (if they want to) his Birth Family members.

Like “La Cosa Nostra”,  This Thing of Ours-Adoption is very complex, undergoing changes over the years, hopefully to eliminate the wrongs done by some who would profit from child-laundering, kidnapping, etc. But these are NOT all the cases, in fact there is NO ALL at all.

Spectrum of difference within

There is a spectrum of colors that represent so many aspects and different cases. White Light is full of all the colors and a Prism bends or refracts the white light into its various elements. In Adoption there are also many different experiences, from the great to horrible, the good, the bad, ugly, and beautiful. Do mestic and Inter-Country adoptions, secret, open, closed, within families only, transracial, the list of variations are enormous and well, different yet similar. Commonality overlaps in many cases. The tragedies of life affect even "normal" families with divorce, death, illnesses, attachment disorders, incest, etc.
The KWB sees though, in the majority of cases Adoption is an answer, not the best but the next best for a child who is, for one reason or another given up, abandoned, thrown away, without relatives who WANT it, and simply needs a loving home.

Adoption faces issues that Psychologists, Behavior Analysts, Psychiatrists, Social Worker, etc have learned from many years of study. PAP (Prospective Adoptive Parents) are given much more information on helping their adoptive child to adapt, understand and discuss their adoption questions, when and how to deal with it...Resources are much better and the internet gives blogs, websites, book lists, whatever is needed can be found.

In some 10% of adoption cases in the U.K. result in "failed adoptions" and there are other examples. But what of the other 90%? Are they perfect, of course not. Life is not perfect nor are parents. A good friend of the KWB once remarked that his newborn child did not come with a "manual".

Abandonment Issues 

Each child does suffer within from the abandonment and separation from its natural birth mother. But to blame adoption for all these seems to be too much.
Abortion, institutional life, foster home, slavery conditions in their home country…what adoption DOES do it give a chance for a home. Whether it is done in secret or closed conditions (as in Korea) or with ethnically related parents, the fact is that thousands of trans-racial adoptions have been “Successful”.
Surveys only touch on a tiny section, even the Evan Donaldson Adoption Institute (AdoptionInstitute) has surveys of only 500 adoptees. There are some recent finding by them that give recommendations to improve on the process. But some surveys have taken only 11 USA adoptees and extrapolated results to apply to many thousands! What is that? How can 11 represent so many, impossible even for the KWB’s low math skills to comprehend.

The reasons for “giving up for adoption” are numerous, circumstances and pressures come into play. Any one reason cannot apply to the “ALL”, each part of the Spectrum has different facts, stories, etc. that does NOT apply to others in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”. In seeking Balance though ALL stories must be examined and weighed, in context with the Whole, the White Light of "This Thing of Ours-Adoption".

It is written in the Bible, Koran, Hebrew scriptures, and other holy books of major religions, "Seek and you will Find". We should/can/must seek the whole truth from all the "colors contained within". The KWB does NOT know all the facts, please send him your information, links, opinions. A consensus can be found. (Again, the KWB sure likes the Spell Check/Word suggestions/Dictionary/Google Search, etc Tools that help us all find Knowledge- and he would be helpless without them. He even has an online bible program to search for verses...)

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Real Support for Unwed Moms

 image image
By Jennifer Kwon Dobbs -Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is an assistant professor at the English department, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She can be reached at
Korea Times newspaper:

“In today's adoption world, South Korea is no longer the largest sending country. Yet, why does it remain the world's oldest sending country in modern adoption history?
To address this undesirable legacy, the South Korean government has attempted to promote domestic adoption with mixed results.”
Real Support for Unwed Moms
The KWB presents all views, though he is open to other’s opinions he does not endorse everything. In seeking a balanced consensus we must review all aspects of “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”. Please read the whole article, then compare with other stories. Do you have a similar or contrasting story? Send your account to the

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Abandoned Princess-Bari GongJu 바리 공주

Abandoned Princess-Bari Gong Ju
Part 4

The Korean War Baby presents parts 4 of a domestic adoptee’s story of abandonment and late discovery of her adoption. She was adopted secretly as 90% of Korean domestic adoptees are done. It is still embarrassing and even shameful to admit that a couple cannot have a natural child. In the 1950’s it was actually a law that only children in “relative adoptions” within the extended family could adopted.

Overseas Adopted Koreans (OAK) have a counter showing 87,479 (1939-2007) official domestic adoptions, however there are an estimated  Double that number of Private Civil adoptions

These are not in government records, dating from the post WW2 days of USFK just after the Liberation of Korea from the Japanese Empire’s surrender. The Dutch diplomat’s relinquishment of their nine year old Korean daughter shocked many here, here, Time Magazine. It was a private civil adoption, and these unfortunately continue to this day. If Korea signs the Hague Conventions these will stop.
Here is the fictional story, based on real life.

“Epic of The Seventh Daughter”
-Part 4-
Days turned to weeks, a couple of months.
Then the little one was hustled again,
Again she was going away.
For a new Mom and Dad awaited,
Longing for the gift from heaven.

Placed in a loving home, she knew another father.
He adopted her, ‘Took her by his own Choice’.
Ad Optare means in Latin-‘to Take/Add by Choice’.
I receive you, my daughter,
I now call you my own.

He was getting on in years,
His new bride was young and strong.
Though they loved each other,
They couldn’t produce a child from their union.
They desired their own family.

The father had been widowed several years before,
Left with 2 sons and some daughters.
He then had met a younger woman,
Who had lost her own father.
Taken to the North, during the cruel Korean war.

Though separated by many years,
Their love had grown from friendship to deep love.
They married, against family and social taboos.
Secretly they made inquiries to a Joong Mae Jaengi,
With a matchmaker who arraigned marriage and such.

The Joong Mae promised to ask around,
A son do you seek?” she asked.
Sons are very rare, girls are very common.
It matters not, a girl is fine, yes that would do.
But can we keep it discreet?”

The crafty woman came forth with a plan,
She had much experience with these matters.
To keep the adoption a secret,
A few things could be done.
When a child was found, the plan would unfold.

The wife would pretend to be expecting.
She could travel away to her parent’s hometown.
After announcing the pregnancy,
The wife would wear a ‘special pillow’.
The hospital staff would gladly take a bribe.

One day soon thereafter,
News reached the ears of the matchmaker.
A poor, frail girl had been found,
A Cloud of despair over it’s life,
She was wounded in spirit and soul.

The agent did not tell them one small thing,
That she was a Seventh daughter,
Despised and forsaken, A Curse to many.
Thrown Away by her own flesh and blood,
She would be taken in love, by those who were not.

When the tiny girl child arrived,
She was crying out loudly, given away, again.
The new father and mother rejoiced,
She has broken our bad fortune,
I shall call her Lucky!”

And so little by little the fragile girl grew,
Becoming strong in body and mind,
Finally, finding peace and comfort.
She was an only child, or so she thought.
Never thought it strange, she looked kind’a different.

Lucky blossomed into a young woman,
Then Fate struck a mortal blow.
Her father was under such stress,
His sons had brought much duress.
The family business became a battleground.

The sons strutted around in their pride,
Sitting in their ‘reserved special’ Pews,
Elders of standing in their church.
But in secret they grew in greed,
Scheming to grab as much as they could.

The Sons had never liked their stepmother.
Younger even than they,
Never could accept her or the ‘stepsister’.
They plotted to control most of the business.
Fighting to cut off all their support.

Suddenly, without warning, a stroke hit the Father,
Causing such harm in his mind,
His recent memories were unrecalled.
He remembered his wife but not his daughter.
Lucky had lost a father, again.

His illness continued for three long years.
Mother and daughter struggled together,
Bonded together in life’s cruel dealings.
Lucky stayed by his side,
Lovingly she cared for him, but he knew her not.
Written by the Korean War Baby.

November 9, 2009

Abandoned Princess- Bari Gong Ju 바리 공 주

 "Princess Bari"

This is something the Korean War Baby wrote last year after meeting a special student, she turned out to be a Domestic Adoptee who like an overwhelming majority, was never told that she was adopted. She was a Late Discovery Adoptee who was found by her sixth sister.

The story of the Abandoned Princess is a common theme and an actual Chosun King had seven daughters. In many countries the seventh daughter or son is considered to have spiritual powers and sight. The Shaman priestess in Korea are called Mudang and Bari Gong Ju is the goddess who escorts the spirits of the dead across the river of life, to the realm of the dead. Every child in Korea knows this folk story. Michael Pettid has done an excellent study on

Pari GongJu by Michael Pettid

The Pari kongju muga (Song of the Abandoned Princess) is a narrative shaman's song that until national division in 1945 was propagated orally throughout the Korean peninsula except for the P'yoÆngan, Hwanghae, and Cheju regions. This muga (shaman's song) centers on the life story of the shamanistic deity, Princess Pari,1 who is abandoned at birth by her parents due to her sex but later journeys to the next world to and the life giving medicine that allows their rebirth.

After her successful mission to the sacred realm, the princess transforms into the shamanistic deity who ensures the passage of the dead from this world to the next. Accordingly, this muga fulfills an important function in Korean shamanistic eschatology, ensuring that the spirits of the dead are removed from the secular world and taken to the supernatural realm. 

Aside from the religiosity of this song, it also provides a view of late-ChosoÆn society through the eyes of the female adherents to the shamanistic religion.
Korean Studies, Volume 24. ( 2000 by University of Hawai`i Press. All rights reserved.)

“Epic of the Seventh Daughter”

Written by the Korean War Baby
Based on Princess Bari

“Epic of the Seventh Daughter”
(Part 1)
Come and listen my friends,
To a tale full of sorrow and woe.
It’s the story of a Seventh Daughter,
So innocent and dear, unlucky,
A child born under a curse.

On a cold, windy winter day,
A woman lay groaning in labor,
Moaning in pain as the baby came forth.
What is it?” she cried, “A boy it must be!”
A midwife’s smile faded as she sadly turned away.

Six daughters she had helped deliver,
Sorry…it’s ONLY a girl
Oh, NO!,” moaned the mother, “not another,
Aihi-goo, have I given birth to a witch?
I can’t tell my husband I failed again!

The innocent babe was the seventh you see,
The seventh daughter was considered a curse,
Unlucky or charmed at worse.
How unlucky”, “Such bad Karma”, “What a pity!”
People murmured and whispered at the news. 
Part 2
Like Princess Bari, seventh daughter of a King”,
The legend of Princess Bari tells of a girl,
Who was abandoned, just because she wasn’t a son.
A Chosen dynasty King, Yong-nung Yoju,
Six daughters, he desperately needed a male Heir.

The King and Queen accepted the six daughters,
Then the Queen dreamed that a special child would come.
The seventh came, then the King lost his temper.
Oh, NO!! Not another girl!”
The King said “Throw her away into the forest.”
“Bari Gongju muga” is a Korean Shaman priest’s “Muga”,
Muga is a ritual sacred song.
Bari da literally means “throw-away”,
GongJu” means Princess, so it was called,
The Song of the Abandoned Princess.

(Shaman priests are called Mudang,
Most are woman who sang Muga chants calling up spirits,
They dance and perform a Kut,
Rituals for protection, blessing, and guiding the dead.
Princess Bari, became Matriarch of the Shaman religion.)

Seventh Daughter!? So unlucky,
Destined to be a considered a freak.
Unloved, unwanted, then callously abandoned,
The King disowned her, sent her away.
She was left to die in the woods.

Up above, supernatural beings were very angry,
Twice they saved the special, auspicious child.
Magpies fed her in the woods,
Then the babe was put in a chest and thrown into the sea.
A Turtle saved her and put her on dry land.

An elderly couple found the exposed baby,
Crying, covered in sand, washed up on the beach.
They took pity on her and took her home,
Cleaned her up and dressed her,
Wrapping her in clothes made of bark.

Though poor and destitute, they thanked the heavens.
They had never been blessed with a child,
And with the help of Buddha,
They made her their own, giving her life.
For she was their one and only child.

The young girl grew up, full of kindness and wisdom.
Filled with knowledge from heaven,
She had valor and loyalty to her adoptive parents.
and loved them dearly,
Knowing not she was of different blood.

Then one day Princess Bari discovered the truth,
The King and Queen were her birth parents.
The sixth princess, her sister, found out about her,
Then searched the whole Kingdom.
She met her long lost sister and told her sad news.

The King and Queen had both been stricken deathly ill,
As punishment for abandoning a child of heaven.
The elderly adoptive father had just passed away,
So the adoptive mother urged her to go with her blessings.
Princess Bari and her birth sister rushed to the palace.

At the Palace she found her parents dying.
The wise men claimed that only water
From the Mountain of Three Gods would heal them.
Princess Bari volunteered to undertake the perilous journey,
No one else dared, it was the land of the dead.
The Princess met a Taoist supernatural being,
Who guarded the site of the medicinal waters.
He would give her the cure, only if she earned it.
Many years later, she proved her Filial loyalty,
Working nine years, then bearing seven sons.

She came back from the land of the dead,
To find her parents had both died.
But with the magical waters from the sacred realm,
She raised up her birth parents from death.
Afterwards, two sons were born, one destined for the throne.

Princess Bari was the first shaman to guide,
The spirits of the dead, beyond, to the next world.
The King offered her half of the Kingdom,
But she transcended this profane world.
A heroine, she become a shamanistic deity.
Part 3
(Republic of Korea, 20th century)
Meanwhile the news spread; Mudangs came near,
Offering to take the unwanted seventh daughter.
Raise her as one of their own.
“Shaman priestess, possessing powers of second sight,
Fortune-telling, psychic powers, even healing in her touch.”

But for the mother it just was too much.
A Seventh Daughter!! What misfortune!
What did I do to deserve this?”
She turned aside from the girl,
Ashamed that she had not produced a Son.
The baby lay discarded on the table, covered in blood.
It’s cord was not cut or tied off,
Writhing in shock, cold, crying out!
She was unwashed with cleansing water.
Nor rubbed with purifying salt, laying naked.

Forsaken, unwanted, another daughter had been born,
Rejected by all. The Mid-wife whispered,
I can take care of the problem…
Tell the Father, she was just too weak…and died.”
The mother nodded yes. Someone, came and took ‘it’ away.

They lied to the Birth-Father when he returned,
“It was fate that the baby did not live”,
“Anyway, Seven daughters are very bad luck.”
“Do the rituals, forget the dead”
“Keep on trying, you are sure to get a Son.”
I never knew you, my daughter.
I was away when you came into this world.
So sorry, you only knew life for one day.
Perhaps we will meet in the next life,
Hope you come back again as a son.”

They took her away, far from that place.
Sold to a broker, passed from one to another.
Who is this? Where’s my mother!?”
The baby cried out everyday,
Crying nonstop, broken hearted, all alone.

Loving arms tried to calm her,
But all to no avail.
Cloaked in darkness, like a thick heavy veil.
Unable to express her fear and pain,
She could not yet receive even love.

The KWB wrote this for his student, yet it is for all adoptees who have suffered many abandonments and separations in their early lifetimes. This Thing of Ours-Adoption is a tale of woe and sorrow, the Korean collective deep grief known as “Han”.
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