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 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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