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 3, 2009

Discrimination Still Lingers For Multicultural Families in Korea

Multicultural Families are Growing in Numbers

The KWB noticed that several articles have come out in Korean Media concerning the issues of Multicultural Families and their Multi-Racial children. This update show just how far Korean society has come…and how much further it must go. There are positive signs though, but for the families and their children they will have to meet the challenge daily.


By Jonathan Hicap
Korea Times Correspondent


Discrimination Still Lingers for Multicultural Families
SEOUL ― Despite social integration programs and millions of dollars in funds poured in by the Korean government to help multicultural families live at ease, the sting of discrimination is still a problem for foreign wives and their mixed-race children as Koreans have not accepted them as part of society.
 
This is the prevailing sentiment among foreign wives married to Koreans who say that despite their efforts to blend in, they still feel that they have a long way to go before they can be accepted as Korean.
One of them is Jean, 36, a Filipina who married a Korean in 2007 and moved to Korea the same year. She is happily married to her husband but said Koreans regard foreign spouses and their children as lower in social status.

``It is an unfortunate fact in Korea that multicultural families are second-class citizens since they are not pure Korean in blood,'' she told The Korea Times.
Based on data from Statistics Korea, there were 36,204 international marriages in Korea in 2008, which amounts to 11 percent of the total 327,700 marriages held in the country for that year. In 2000 there were 11,605 international marriages.

Out of the 28,163 marriages, the number of Chinese women marrying Koreans amounted for 13,203 or almost half of the total number, followed by Vietnamese with 8,282, Filipino women with 1,857 and Japanese with 1,162.

In contrast, Korean women who wed foreigners preferred those from industrialized countries. Last year, 2,743 Japanese men were married to Koreans, followed by Chinese (2,101), American (1,347), Canadian (371) and Australian (164).

By the end of 2008, there were about 182,712 multicultural families in Korea.
In 2008, there were 116,535 divorce cases in South Korea, according to Statistics Korea. Of these, 11,255 cases involved divorce between Koreans and foreign spouses.

The KWB notes that YES, some of the marriages end up in DIVORCE. As you see here they are exactly Ten percent of the total divorce cases in 2008. The majority are Korean men married to foreign women who divorce. If we focus ONLY on the divorce cases one could say that international marriages are doomed, bad, too difficult. What about the huge majority that are slowly changing the rural areas of Korea? Where most of the families are changing the demographics as more and more MIXED-BREEDS like the Korean War Baby are growing up. Over 100,000 HoNurAh, nice word for Mixed-Blood children are now flooding into Korean schools.
For some children perhaps they need to get “a rock in a sock” instructional…(Look here)

``Korean society is now becoming increasingly diverse,'' declared Vice Minister Kim Sung-Hwan of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade last year before the U.N. Human Rights Council during the universal public review of Korea's human rights issue.
…Han suggested in the report that Koreans should shake off their stereotypes and start to esteem migrant women's culture, diversity and human rights. ``Married migrated women are Korean citizens. When they are respected not as Koreanized citizens but as citizens who have an identity of dual culture and seek harmony in diversity, the way for a multicultural and multiethnic society will be paved,'' Han said.

Hope and Change, is happening NOW, the so called “homogeneous” society of Korea is one of the PAST. Get with the program folks, accept the multicultural society with open arms. Or there will be many angry children like the KWB, with “Rocks in their Socks”!

 Multicultural Society Korea
Breaking Down the walls of Discrimination
SNUE takes lead in quest for multicultural society
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