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 7, 2009

More State Support for Single Moms Planned

The Korea Times newspaper has many articles on women’s rights issues, adoption both domestic and ICA, civil rights for immigrant workers, etc. Of the English language news services online and in print they are balanced, moderate, and fair. Others, both liberal or conservative, hardly cover issues of the heart and daily problems many continue to experience in “the land of the morning calm”.
ACRC (go to their website here) started in Feb. 2008. This is from their ‘about us’:
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“The Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) launched on February 29, 2008 aims at resolving people's grievances, protecting their rights and fighting corruption. We are committed to achieving these goals by placing the greatest priority on the protection of people's rights and interests.
This homepage is an open channel to communicate with citizens. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to visit our website. We will pay keen attention to all sorts of your opinions and demands whether it is big or small.
The ACRC pledges to make strenuous efforts to create a clean and transparent country where all the people enjoy equal rights and opportunities. In this journey, we will always stand by your side and think and act from your perspective.
Thank you.
Lee, Jae Oh
Chairman
Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission
Republic of Korea”

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Read the whole article More State Support for Single Moms Planned 

By Kim Sue-young
Staff Reporter
The government is moving to offer more support to single mothers as part of efforts to encourage them to keep their own babies, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (
ACRC) said Thursday.

The body also plans to help adoptees find their biological parents by improving systems and documentation, a spokesman said.
"Once the recommendations are accepted, more single mothers can keep their children through subsidies," he said.

 
The commission advised related ministries, including the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs (MOHWFA)
and the Ministry of Justice (Min. of Justice, Republic of Korea), to offer subsidies so that single parents can find a place to raise their babies.


The revisions are subject to the approval of the National Assembly.”

Unwed Mothers MUST have support from the Government to enable them to choose to keep their baby. The government must first give financial and legal support THEN perhaps the Families and Society will follow in supporting Single Women to keep their babies.
At present few women are able to face such massive odds against them. They are pressured by their own family to protect the honor of the families name because it is still considered shameful. In a perfect world, there would be no need to help Unwed mothers- couples would Not engage in premarital sex without prevention, there would be No need for Abortion, etc. This is obviously not a perfect world. We must deal with realities of life.
The KWB defends continued Domestic Adoption by ethnic Koreans here and InterCountry Adoptions abroad; then Other nationalities. Love does not depend only on race or ethnicity. Thousands of Korean Adoptees have found loving homes in Transracial families.
Some though have had very troubling lives, dealing with issues of prejudice in societies that they grew up in. We were identified as ‘foreigners’, some had difficulty in attachment to their Adoptive families, etc. The stories of “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” range from wonderful and happy, all the way to tragic and horrible tales of woe. This is life but some things should and can be changed to prevent abuses and outrages.
Balance in these issues is difficult but not impossible. Things are changing in Korea, slowly but each child born should have a chance to stay with its mother…then, the next best thing, Adoption by ethnic Koreans, Korean Adoptees and their spouses, then Others who need and want to give a child a loving home.
The KWB will look at the Spectrum of Life scenarios that face a developing fetus in Korea, from ‘Death from Abortion’ all the way to ‘Life in a TransRacial family’. Each has its points, perspectives, opinions. Weigh in with your comments and opinions. 

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