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. 

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