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.


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.

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