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.


December 31, 2009

Bama Fans in Boise: "Our" Adoption Story... Happy 17th Birthday Hannah

PASADENA, CA - JULY 31: Birth mother Janell Ha...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

“Open Adoption” is a practice that is rarely done, many cases start with contact between Natural/Birth Mother and Adoptive Parents but over time becomes less and less. In some cases Birthmothers lose contact by choice or just circumstances of difficulties of life. She might have to  move or changed her phone numbers, or just cannot face continuing with contact.
In many cases the Adoptive Parents chose to lessen the contact, fearing too much would be confusing to ‘their’ Adopted child. Most States do not enforce contact. Here is an amazing story of and Open Open Adoption.

Technorati Tag-Open Adoption

Tag details

First becoming de rigeur in the early 1990s, open adoptions are created when parents in an unplanned pregnancy choose the forever parents for their child. The four parents then negotiate the amount and type of contact the child will have with the birth parents, likely followed by an ongoing conversation about a child-centered relationship.
Open adoptions acknowledge that the child holds the biology of one set of people and the biography of another. Benefits include having access to the unfolding medical history of the genetic family, helping the child to integrate all facets of him/herself, and the ability to share with the child full information of his/her birth circumstances. Children don't suffer when they are loved by too many people.

Drawbacks can occur when the adults are unable to communicate, when boundaries are in question, or when one party closes the adoption unexpectedly.
Research on how children who grow up in open adoptions fare is now becoming available.  It is generally understood that open adoptions, overall, work well for birth parents, adopted children, and adoptive parents.
“17 years ago today I gave birth to "our" daughter, Hannah.
You might not know that "we" have a daughter... but "we" do.
I placed her for adoption at birth.
So, in honor of her birthday today and the unique and wonderful experience I have been given through open adoption, I want to share "our" (birthparent, adoptive parents and adoptee) story with you.”
*******************************
Bama Fans in Boise: "Our" Adoption Story... Happy 17th Birthday Hannah
image
“One of my favorite things about open adoption is that Hannah has never had to question whether or not I love her. She has grown up seeing my love firsthand. And I have been able to see with my own eyes, over and over, that Hannah is loved and cared for beyond comprehension.”
 image Mother, Son, and Daughter
This story is one that should be studied for a model of Open Adoptions. What elements allowed these people to work out such a relationship? Not all can do it, but perhaps there are lessons and guidelines in examining their journey.




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December 27, 2009

Find My Family – ABC network Show




Frank, son Conner/ Monique-Frank Pittser



The Korean War Baby spoke with his friend in California, Frank Pittser who had an amazing reunion with his Natural/Birth mother this year. Over the Thanksgiving holidays he had a chance to meet his birth family members for the first time.

Frank sent me a link of this program in the USA on ABC network, Find My Family. It is very similar to the programs in Korea like (The Person I am Looking For) and this site will give you many of their  stories unfortunately those living outside USA cannot access full stories. Warning, have a box of tissues with you!

This is what some maybe many adoptees want to do, find their families, to find their past, their identity. Working it out with their Adoptive family must also happen, or there is a sense of rejection. Balance should be sought if possible. This Thing of Ours-Adoption embraces a plethora (don't you love online Thesaurus) of different stories.



Frank is a board member of  hope4kids and shares his story on their newsletter.

  In Frank’s own words:
“Nowadays, it is much easier to connect with one's birth parents. Some adoptive children feel they never need to meet their birth parents. Some do. How wonderful nowadays to have the choice! Our board member Frank Pittser shares his own story with us this month.
"I set my cup of steaming coffee on the coaster atop my brown wooden desk and opened my computer. Yes, need to return a few e-mails. Hmm. What is this from "Classmates"? Goodness, wouldn't that be something if I can actually find my birthmother? I'll be fifty years old in a few months, and I've never known anything about her until recently when my adoptive sister found a name in Mom's jewelry box . . ."






One Thousand Pieces
The Life Story of Frank Pittser

My life started out differently from most people—I was an unwanted pregnancy. Growing up, I always knew I was adopted. I’m not sure how old I was when I figured out exactly what that meant. It may have been when I realized that my skin was much darker than my German brother’s was.

My mom was a great woman. She and Dad had three kids of their own and I was the first of five adopted kids. That makes eight! On top of that, 24/7 she took care of six handicapped kids in our home. Down syndrome, battered babies, babies with birth defects—you name it, we had it! My mother literally sacrificed her entire life to care for her kids and the kids of others!

 “Small box with handwritten note”

When I was twelve years old, Dad left us, but Mom was always there because of her great love for us kids. I was always curious about my birth parents, but out of respect for my mom, I never talked about it. I didn’t want her to think I was trying to replace her. She died six years ago and left behind forty years of stuff in a great big house in Santa Ana. In that big pile, I found a small box with a handwritten note in it.

On the back of an envelope, I found what I believed to be the names of my birth mom, birth father, and my nationality— Dutch, English, and Filipino. My birth mom’s name was Joanne Summers . . . hmmm. I wondered if she was related to Suzanne Somers, the actress. Maybe she was the heir to the Thigh Master fortune! My birth father’s name was Glen Bohannon. That name didn’t sound Filipino, and I was always told that my father was Filipino.

“Searching online finds clues”
I jumped online and searched the birth records for CHOC (Hospital where I was born) and sure enough, there was a baby boy born to last name “Bohannon” on my birth date. I did a Google search and I came up with 1,900,000 results for "Glen Bohannon". So, I checked out two. The first one had his picture posted on a church web site. He seemed close to my age, and he wasn’t Filipino. I was always told my father was Filipino.

The second Glen Bohannon was seventy-one years old. Ah! A possibility. This one had a ClassMates.com account so I had an e-mail link. I drafted an e-mail with my name, birth date, birthplace, birth mom’s name, and I wrote: “You, sir, share the name with the man I believe to be my birth father.”

“I am not your birth father…however…”

I fired off that e-mail in April of 2009. Six weeks later, I got a phone call. A man said, “My name is Glen Bohannon, and I’m responding to an e-mail you sent me. First, I’d like to say that I am not your birth father...however...I’ve been married to your birth mother for fifty-two years.” I got very excited! He told me what a beautiful lady my mother was and what a fantastic family she came from. He was a navy corpsman in the fifties.

I said “Thank you, sir...you are a great American. I really appreciate what you military families do for this great country!” We spoke for twenty minutes and as we did I wondered, “Is she still alive”? As it turns out, she was on the phone the whole time, listening. It was very emotional for her. She then told me the rest of the story.

“I don’t know who your father is…”

My birth mom said, “When I was eighteen and Glen was twenty, we were married. When I was nineteen, living in Tennessee, Glen was sent overseas with the Marines Corp. I was drugged and raped. I don’t know who your father is.” I replied, “At this point...it doesn’t matter! The only reason I wanted to find you was because I didn't want you to feel guilty for giving me up for adoption. I've had a great life and thank you for giving me life!"


“I never saw you, I never touched you…”

She said, “When you were born, I never saw you, I never touched you, I didn’t know if you were male or female. I always wondered if you were adopted right away.” I told her how my mother always told me, “I chose you...I saw you in Dr. Stella’s office when you were an infant, and I chose you.”

One Thousand-piece Jigsaw Puzzle

Imagine a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in an open box. You don’t have the box top so you don’t know what the finished picture will look like. Over time, God shakes the box and the pieces of the puzzle miraculously fall together. The picture won’t be complete until the end of your life. But God, who is outside of time and knows your yesterdays, todays and tomorrows, carefully orchestrates the details of your life.




For example....
My mom was raised in Missouri, in the Baptist church. Of all the places on the planet that my birth mom could be from...she was raise in Missouri, in the Baptist church. Glen Bohannon, her husband of fifty-two years...was for forty years  pastor (now retired) of a Baptist church. That first "Glen Bohannon" I pulled up, had his picture on a church website...my half-brother...music minister ...of a Baptist church. His younger brother...full-time pastor...of a Baptist church. When I was twenty-five years old, living in Vail, Colorado, for two years I studied the bible at the Vail Baptist Church. My half-sister; thirteen years a Navy Chaplain, is now a VA Chaplain. Though, come to think of it, she was ordained at a Baptist seminary. I guess God loves the Baptists!

"Adopt means Take by Choice"

The truth is, before my mother chose me...God chose her to raise me. The fact that she had the names of my birth parents and left them for me to find is a miracle! If she hadn’t left me those clues and if the Internet did not exist, I never would have found my birth mom.

That first conversation with my birth mom, she said, “Today is May 18th, my 70th birthday. You were born just two days after my 20th birthday. Every year, on your birthday, I would pray for you. I feel this phone call is an answer to prayer.” Two days later, she called and wished me a happy 50th birthday!

“Face to face with my birth mom”

Six weeks after that first phone call, she and Glen drove coast to coast, from North Carolina to California to see my family and me. It was July 1, 2009 when I first stood face to face with my birth mom. She opened the hotel room door and the first thought that crossed my mind is, “I do have my mother’s hips!” We had a wonderful time! We tried to cram fifty years into seven days! My eight-year-old son has two new terrific grandparents. Not only did I find my birth mom, but Glen became the spiritual father I never had.

“Prayed for fifty years for a baby she never knew…”

What happened fifty-some years ago could have been nothing more than a tragic rape of a nineteen-year-old girl. But somehow God has worked things out for good. It was God who breathed life into me and chose the time of my birth to bless my birth mom fifty years later. Joanne Bohannon prayed for fifty years for a baby she never knew. In God’s time, He answered her prayers.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a professional ski bum in the mountains of Colorado, I didn’t know that my roommate Len Carey would play such a significant part in my life. About fifteen years ago, Len and his wife, Peggy, started hope4kids. For the past two years, I’ve been on their Board of Directors. I head up the Adoption Option Campaign, which aims to woo the hearts of young women to chose life and offer their babies up for adoption, if they are unable or unwilling to parent their child. At the same time to educate the community about the great need for loving homes for children given up for adoption.

"My birth Mom chose life"

I was an unwanted pregnancy, but because my birth mom chose life, I share my story with you today. I’ve had a great life and now I have a family of my own. My heart goes out to young women on the edge of making life altering decisions. One of life's most rewarding moments is the miracle of birth and becoming a parent. I have an eight year old son...he changed my life! I will always encourage any woman who is not prepared for the challenges of parenthood to entrust the baby to the adoption process. We at Hope4kids can assist you in choosing a family who will love and raise the child as their own, even as my mother did so many years ago.

I am a product of rape from 1958. I could have been another abortion statistic but my mother loves God and trusted Him. Whatever your life situation is, newborn life is a gift from God. For me, adoption was the best option.

God Bless you,



Frank Pittser
************************************************

The Korean War Baby agrees with Frank that though many circumstances lead to ‘unwanted pregnancy’ a woman must live with the choice the rest of her life.  Rape, Incest, sexual encounters with no prevention or protection, the results force usually the woman to make the most difficult decision of her life. She must choice what to do, and the KWB feels ultimately a woman does have 'Choice' and should be given counseling on ALL her options. In America women overwhelmingly chose Life, some stats suggest up to 80-90 % keep their babies. 


FOUR Thousand EVERYDAY choose Abortion in the “land of Mourning Calm”, but many other women choose to give life to their child.

A few struggle to raise their baby, with little of no support from family, society’s rejection and scornSome, faced with overwhelming pressures give up their child for adoption. In a perfect world this wouldn’t happen, but it is a fact of life that every year in Korea only a few mothers can keep their children.

In Korea, according to stats from government and NGO's presently 32% or one out of three single mothers are trying to keep their babies. However, two thirds decide to relinquish their newborn daughters and sons away.Slowly, the trend is improving and perhaps in ten years it will be two to one...Maybe one day, in our Motherland, there will be no more need for Adoption. That day is still in the future and we must deal with the here and now, without judgement, scorn, malice, but with understanding for all, in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

Each year the hearts of the Korean people are moved to adopt only half, 50% of those Born Alive, because of lingering prejudices and social traditions based on Oriental teachings. Thousands of children grow up in Foster Care program, too old to be adopted. Shall they NOT get a chance to have a home and a family? 


Even many Christian Pastors and leaders have told the KWB to his face, “I would never adopt, its against our traditions to take a child that is not blood related”. The KWB was Shocked, simply shocked and outraged!! Trying to restrain himself, he reminded them of the numerous passages that teach us from the Bible that WE, if we believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ “received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry, ABBA, Father!” (Romans 8:15).

He challenged them how THEY could not adopt when our Heavenly Father  “predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself” (Ephesians 1:5). Is it not written, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestined us to the adoption of children” (Ephesians 3:1-5). What say you to this?

The shepherds  and teachers  of the churches could not answer him…for they were speechless and ashamed. That was in the late 1990’s only and after teaching to hundreds even a couple of thousand Korean students Adoption aways comes up. He is NOT Ashamed to be 'Ip Yang In', 'adopted person'. He is co-heir with Christ, he is not the TUIGI "child of a foreign devil" any more, he is a Child of GOD!! Yet, the number of Korean people of all religions adopting domestically are dropping each year. They SHOULD be filled with shame. 

Fourteen years later, times have changed for the better! More Christians, Buddhists, even secular Koreans ARE adopting, yet a majority keep it a ‘dirty secret’ because of continuing prejudices from society. Many though are openly adopting. Polls show 25% of young people are willing to adopt, though secretly.

Special Needs children are rarely adopted domestically with ratios of 12 domestic to 713 ICA giving another reason that Korea must send away their UNWANTED. Who can rationally say that ALL overseas, Inter-Country Adoptions should stop? Are they stupid or just ignorant? It takes a multi-level approach until his mother’s people shake off the past and embrace all their children.

Until the Korean people support the mothers who want to keep their children, unfortunately, domestic and Inter-Country Adoptions must continue. Perhaps one day, there will be a Perfect World for Mother and Child, in the “Land of the Morning Calm”.

Until then the Korean War Baby will shout out to all “I LIVE! By the grace of GOD. I am Adopted and BY GOD proud of it!! If you don’t like it, then Beware the Eye of the Tiger, he takes no Ddong”!



OldWhosOld





December 26, 2009

Hunter’s Crossing-Silver Star Productions



"Hunters Crossing"-Starring Richard Harrison, Bruce Baron, Don Gordon (Bell), James Gaines


  Titles were often changed several times in release as a film, then DVD’s in the mid 1980’s. As Hunter's Crossing my credits were as "Don Gordon" but when it came out again as DVD, well, you can see a poster here. I apologize to Hunter's_Crossing_Dutch_VHSBruce Baron French film site NanarlandInterview for being put above him on this movie poster. Bruce had the main lead role, but he was just starting and my ‘name was out there’ already (Remember the REAL Don Gordon has many credits) LOL.


Bruce was very dedicated, a Hong Kong model who went on to do quite a few movies. I knew first time I met him that he had what it takes to do main cast or leading roles. We worked on only a couple of films before I left the country in 1985. He went on to real jobs and still lives in Hong Kong I understand.



Both Bruce and Romano had the right “face” for the market. For the KWB he was relegated to Goon, action or war film roles, and supporting cast. That’s show business! What a way though to make a living. Next post soon will highlight other members of the Pigs in Space, our group from the early 1980’s of Guerrilla character artists.


The Korean War Baby is thankful for his blog friend Jack J for posting these trailers at When the Vietnam War raged... in the Philippines






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Romano Kristoff- Actor and My Best Friend

 RomanoKristoff

Romano Kristoff (Bamboo Gods site) was a Spaniard with a colorful life. He served in the Legion Estranger or French Foreign Legion, in numerous actions and reaching the Elite Honor guards. Romano and I worked on many films together and actually shared an apartment for three years. He was the Spanish ‘Alain Delon’, lady killer extraordinaire, one of my best friends, natural action star.

"BlackFire"




“BlackFire”
Silver Star Productions




Sometimes they changed our names like Romano became Ron in some films to make him ‘sound’ more American. When we first met I recognized that he could easily do lead roles but his Spanish accent was very strong. We worked on his speech until he was cussing like a US Marine or beach bum from California. Many times our voices were ‘Dubbed’ in by voice talents in Italy or other countries so it did not matter.

Romano and I also studied UeChi-Ryu under Sensei Robert Campbell. When we had time between film work we would helpteach at the Manila Polo Club. Many of the former students are now in their late 30’s and early 40’s some 24 years later. I had a chance to meet two of them last month when I made a quick visit to Manila. (See my Facebook page under Don Gordon Bell for my Philippine album, or under Picaso albums on left column).


 GeorgeMattson_BobCampbell_85
DonBell_RomanoKristoff_85WarBus_Don_RomanoKristoff



Romano would be the one to keep the KWB calm, when he would frequently flare up. The KWB was a very touchy and quickly went into a rage if someone tried anything. Romano was the Cool guy- but anyone looking into his friendly face would see a flash of confidence and his steely eyes showed his experience and warned them not to even pass gas. Most often they backed away but several times we had to fight back to back, but walked away with the fools rolling in pain on the ground.
The KWB is not that sort of fellow anymore…but don’t push him too much.


_0001 (3)BB               TigerWhoHasEaten


“Crazy Don” was my nickname back in the days of my wayward youth.
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sheltersky: have a wonderful christmas everyone

The Korean War Baby notes Someone worth reading:


KyungMee
    This is a young Korean American Adoptee woman who has quite an interesting story. Check out her blogs:


sheltersky: have a wonderful christmas everyone


home is within

Adoptee Voice: Funny, You Don't Look White...

The Korean War Baby notes a blog worth reading:
Peter
"Adoptee Voice"




Adoptee Voice: Funny, You Don't Look White...

Special Note: Check out the Comments on this article by Peter. Excellent commentary by young and older adoptees with different experiences.

December 25, 2009

States That Allow Access To Original Birth Certificates - Search & Reunion E-Magazine. 2010 Adoption.com

 
Korean War Baby Blog
Korean War Memorial, Washington D.C.
Search or Not?

To Search or not to search that is sometimes a question for Adoptees as they get older. As an Old Guy Adoptee from the earliest wave of Korean adoptees, the Korean War Baby experienced this year the question of searching for natural/birth/1st mother-father-family, etc.


Dec2009_EnjoyingFreshAir
Reflections Dec. 2009


Especially during the teenage years we begin to realize that we aren’t “White”. All Trans-Racial/Cultural adoptees (Adopted across Race and Culture lines) face these issues. Adoptive parents are learning better ways to deal with the issues than in the past. More information is available from Adoption Specialists, studies, blogs, books, articles, and the Internet.


BadHairDay_BloggingHard 
‘Bad Hair Day’ after blogging!

This Thing of Ours-Adoption, includes many people and each have their own stories. The Korean War Baby urges all to listen to each other’s views with respect to find a balance to finding solutions. By hearing each other perhaps better understanding will lead to the best for all involved.

Adoption.com is an excellent source of information, forums, viewpoints, etc. Join and browse this Hub and other websites to know all sides of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. No matter where or who you, this website is full of many different views.

States That Allow Access To Original Birth Certificates - Search & Reunion E-Magazine. 2010 Adoption
"States That Allow Access To Original Birth Certificates
A brand new year is here. It is a time to re-evaluate the previous year and look forward to a new one. January is about new beginnings and taking the next few steps to accomplishing your goals and becoming who you want to be. The new year is a fresh start-one that holds ample opportunity for learning, growth, and achievement.
 

The new year is also a great time to begin your search and reunion journey or revamp your previous search efforts. One place to start is obtaining your original birth certificate. This can be a little tricky because each state has different law, regulations, and guidelines pertaining to accessing original birth certificates or birth records.

Here is a basic outline of laws and regulations:
There are five areas in the United States that will grant permission of original birth certificates at the request of an adult adoptee: Oregon, the Virgin Islands, Maine, Alabama, and Alaska. If you were born in any one of these areas, just put in your formal request, and you shouldn't have too many problems.
Many more states will allow the adoptee to request and obtain records, unless one of the birth parents has denied releasing the information through a formal affidavit. Here are the specifics:
  • Delaware and Montana (for adoptions finalized on or after 10/1/1997)
  • Maryland (for adoptions finalized on or after 1/1/2000)
  • Minnesota (for adoptions finalized on or after 8/1/1997)
  • Nebraska (for adoptions finalized on or after 7/20/2002)
  • Ohio and Oklahoma (for adoptions finalized on or after 11/1/1997, but only when all birth siblings, who have been adopted, are 18 years old or older)
  • Washington (for adoptions finalized on or after 10/1/1993)
The following states will allow access to original birth certificates if consent from the birth parents is on file:
  • Colorado (effective 1/1/2006)
  • Nebraska (for adoptions finalized on or after 9/1/1998)
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
And these states allow access when eligibility to receive the information is established by a State adoption agency:
  • Illinois (for adoptions finalized after 1/1/2000)
  • Indiana (for adoptions finalized after 12/31/1993)
  • Michigan
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
Start this new year with increased fervor for establishing contact. Use the information above to reach that next step. Soon you'll have accomplished your goal in reconnecting with your birth family."


If you are an Adoptee/Adoptee Parent-family/Birth Parent/ etc. there are many sources to read of others journeys in searching. The KWB encourages all to read and dialog with loved ones on your feelings to avoid misunderstandings. We need to hear from others their thoughts and it will help you to be prepared.
Seek the truth, from every side, for there exists a spectrum of stories, experiences, opinions, etc. You might ‘fit’ some stories partially or completely or not at all. Searching does not mean that you are rejecting your Adoptive Parents-Family, and some do feel torn or guilty. Others have no desire to search, some feel angry at the one’s who gave them up, not wanting to find ‘them’.
Our views change over the years, importance fades or grows, according to our own lives. It is a Never Ending Story for many or not a big thing for others. What is most important is to know who you are, a question the KWB is still asking himself.
“Who AM I”
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Adoptee Voice: Happy Holidays!

Adoptee Voice: Happy Holidays!

To Make Him Known: Merry Christmas!

To Make Him Known: Merry Christmas!

December 23, 2009

Tall is All-Korean Men are ‘Short-changed!’

 091130_p01_tall


The KWB, as one of medium stature just shy of 180 cm, is not amused! On a recent program of KBS2 TV's talk show, “Misuda” (Beauties' Chatterbox), a young woman dropped a bombshell, by saying a short man is a ``loser,'' adding she wouldn't date a short male. She also said short men were losers. A mountain of furious letters stormed the broadcaster that aired the popular TV show. The Internet forums were enraged by angry males.



Subsequently, the poor girl was cyber-slimed (as the poor Dog Poop Girl) by Korean male Netizens, who seemed to believe that it was actually HER THOUGHTS. Anyone familiar with Television programs would KNOW that each member is given “Scripted dialogue” to read. Instead, the self-aggrandizing ignorant cyber-netizens quickly OUTed the woman’s name, personal information, etc. without letting her air her own story. One might say she should have refused, but that would not have crossed her mind. She has dropped out of college and the program, “Persona non Gratis”.


Read article here: In Korea, Fried Egg Is Not for the Loser


“Decades ago when Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world, eating an egg on the dinner table was considered a rare treat. When there was an egg, a housewife didn't give it to her children. She saved it for her husband who returned home after a long day's hard work.

 
fried_egg_


The fried egg symbolized the respect the society attached to the Korean men, who were the pillar of the family and the backbone of the Korean workforce. In fact, that was how Korean men had been treated in a society where men called the shots. Perhaps not any more.


Traditionally, Korean women subjected themselves to men in a highly stratified society under the Confucian influence. A woman should defer to her husband. When she gives birth to a baby, who happens to be a son, then the mother should also defer to her son. A female who was docile, quiet, obedient, was considered "virtuous."



But the male-led social hierarchy in Korea is shifting. The male authority is tumbling. Korean men now live in a society where he could be easily prosecuted for simply sending a wrong look to a woman for "sexual harassment." Children now don't have to automatically adopt their father's last name. A man is not supposed to challenge the "feminism" discourage to avoid being labeled as a "male chauvinist."

AND This came out:

'Tall Man' Industry Thriving


These articles are amazing and shocking, yet they are so evident of “This Is Korea” and the other side of the coin of the “Tallness” issue.

South Korean Parents see TALL as All NyTimes


“Swayed by the increasingly popular conviction that height is crucial to success, South Korean parents are trying all manner of remedies to increase their children’s stature, spawning hundreds of growth clinics that offer hormone shots, traditional Eastern treatments and special exercises.


“In our society, it’s all about looks,” said Ms. Seo, 35. “I’m afraid my daughter is shorter than her peers. I don’t want her to be ridiculed and lose self-confidence because of her height.”


Ms. Seo spends $770 a month on treatments for her daughter and her 4-year-old son at one such clinic, Hamsoa, which has 50 branches across the country and offers a mix of acupuncture, aromatherapy and a twice-a-day tonic that contains deer antler, ginseng and other medicinal herbs.


These clinics are all over, raking in the money with techniques that have dubious results. Over the past 30 years the average height of high school senior boys in South Korea has increased 3.5 inches, to 5-feet-8, according to government data. Senior girls grew an average of 2 inches, to 5-feet-3.


“She simply said what everyone thinks but doesn’t dare say in public,” said Dr. Kim Yang-soo, head of a growth clinic called Kiness. “Here, if you change your height, you can change your fate.”


At his clinic, Kim Se-hyun, a fifth-grader, walked on a treadmill with her torso encased in a harness suspended from an overhead steel bar. The contraption, the clinic maintains, will stretch her spine and let her exercise with less pressure on her legs.”


Yet the belief that tall is all, prevails in Korean Society. The unfortunate ‘Misuda’ beauty simply stated what most people believe and is paying for it dearly. Speaking truth can be hazardous to your image, because TIK-This is Korea.
 

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Shades of Gray/Koreanness

From White to Black-Greyscale
Shades of Gray

The Korean War Baby, has read the excellent study from Evan B. Donaldson’s Adoption Institute called "Beyond Culture Camp". It has to do with the questions many have looked at concerning the identity issue of Koreanness.

The KWB found this at the blogger Ask a Korean What makes a person Korean?”

“How to Measure One’s Koreanness?
Then is there any way to determine if someone is Korean? The most obvious first step is whether someone considers his/herself to be a Korean. After all, one cannot be forced into a group identity – group identity is only a part of self-identity, and no one can control the way you regard yourself.

25% Korean Miss Universe
(Here is an interesting example of forced-upon group identity: In 1997, Miss Universe was Brook Lee, a quarter Korean. Her grandfather was a Korean who immigrated to Hawaii. The Korean media went nuts when Lee won Miss Universe – Look, world’s most beautiful woman has some Korean in her! However, all this attention from Korea bewildered Lee, who said until she was mobbed by Korean media, she did not really consider herself Korean.)

But does subjective acceptance of group identity suffice? It cannot. There have to be some objective barometers because purely subjective measures would be ludicrous. One who is be born outside of Korea from non-Korean parents, has never visited Korea, does not know one word in Korean, dislikes all Korean food, cannot handle even one shot of soju, etc., cannot possibly become Korean by simply believing oneself to be a Korean.

In fact, objective factors, if numerous enough, can overwhelm the importance of subject acceptance. It would be plain stupid if someone who is born and raised in Korea to Korean parents, speaks only Korean and has never left Korea suddenly claim he is no longer Korean.

From this, we can extract a unified theory of Koreanness: Koreanness is about how much, and how well, you buy into the idea of Korean group identity.”

The KWB thinks Ask a Korean has very good points, as for how much and how well you buy into the idea of Korean Group identity must be looked at from many levels. Korean Media has always grabbed hold of “Famous Korean celebrities” syndrome where anyone who has 25% (Grandparent) Korean is claimed by the media as “KOREAN”.
However, the public in Korea has some very interesting views on “What is a REAL KOREAN”. The KWB has heard from thousands of students, yes, at least a couple of thousand, on this issue. He has taught at two major universities, three Middle Schools, plus business classes, Shinsegae Department Culture Centers, and Private classes for over 14 years in Seoul, Korea.
In EVERY case the issue of being a Korean War Baby and IP Yang In or 입양인 comes up. At one middle school, which must remain unnamed, over 2/3 of the students had lived abroad 3 years or more. They had studied at private or public schools in English speaking countries or in International Schools.
The remaining 1/3 of students told the KWB several times that those who had lived OUTSIDE Korea for more than two years “Were NOT Korean anymore! When he questioned them further, they implied that living outside the country that long put them OUTSIDE the “WE” or “우리" concept. They were not in the group of Real Koreans in their jealous mindsets.

Please consider this chart:


What shade of Korean-ness are You?

Percentage of Korean-ness
Factors
100
Full-Blooded Real Korean-Both parents Korean/live in Korea (N or S) entire life/speak and write in Hangul/know history, culture, food,/ served in military (for males)/studied abroad less than 2 years
90
M/F both Korean/Studied abroad MORE than 2 years and speak English very well
80
1. Generation- Korean Adult Emigrants to Foreign country.
70
1.5 Generation-2 Korean Parents Emigrated to another country when under 18 yrs. old.
60
2.0 Generation-2 Korean Parents but BORN a CITIZEN of Foreign Country. (‘Korean-American’) Speak and write Korean at low level. Does not know Culture/history/practices very well.
50
Bi-Racial/Bi-Cultural- One parent Korean other is NOT; Lives in Korea. Culture/language/history knowledge high level.
40
Bi-Racial/Bi-Cultural- One parent Korean other is NOT; Lives in foreign country with low to moderate levels of Cultural/language/history ability.
30
Full-Blooded Korean Adoptee-Older child 3 and up, remembers some of Korean life: has lost most language/cultural understanding/etc.
Baby or Very young Adoptee- has None or only ‘learned knowledge’ of being Korean. Culture Camps, self study, trips to motherland, etc.
Some Full-Blooded Korean Adoptees are also Bi-Cultural as they are adopted by Korean living abroad as Residents or Citizens. Some are adopted by Korean Adoptees married to foreigners. Level of understanding is based on learned or experienced culture.
20
Mixed-Blood Korean Adoptee- From 25 to 50% Korean genetic ancestry; adopted into Foreign family (usually Caucasian); only learned knowledge of being Korean, or now living in motherland to continue ‘turning Korean’.
10
Low Level of Blood Quantum- Person with one Great- Grandparent or 12.5% Korean Ancestry. Very low level of understanding of Korean Culture/language/history/etc.
WHEW, did he miss anyone? Send your thoughts or comments, links, articles, etc. to the koreanwarbaby@gmail.com
 
The terms dongpo (동포) or gyopo (교포) in Korean refers to people of ethnic Korean ancestry who have lived the majority of their lives outside Korea. It can also mean simply any Korean who lives outside Korea. Korean DongPo or Gyopo

December 21, 2009

Gender Imbalance to Reach Crisis Point in 2014'

ChoSun Ilbo newspaper link
The Korean War Baby notes that these facts are the results of aggressive policy of using ABORTION as a form of Sex Selection for many years. As the birth ratio became more pronounced more Korean men began to seek wives from outside the country. MultiCultural marriages and Mixed-Race children are changing the Demographics of the once “homogenic society”. This is a good thing, maybe the Xenophobia will start to fade when reality hits home and Korean society wakes up to discover, “Look at all these Hoh Hyol Ah children! Oh, my Buddha, homogenic AnNi Oh! (NOT)”. The KWB rejoices as a Half-Breed who is IN THE FACES of some prejudice and ignorant people. CHANGE is coming to Korea!!!


“One in every five men is likely to have trouble finding a spouse by 2014, a study suggests, when the ratio of men to women at the ideal marriage age will reach a record high.

The study by the Gyeonggi Province Family and Women's Research Institute …attributed the imbalance to the country's traditional preference for boys. It was the most conspicuous among the third and fourth child in a family. The overall gender ratio stood at 106.4 boys to 100 girls last year, within the normal range of between 103 and 107.

But for the third and fourth child, the institute said it was an "open secret" that couples have pre-natal sex screening and sex-selective abortions. "In addition, a continued growth in the number of single women over the proper age for marriage is making the situation worse," it added.

The KWB notes that “the proper age for marriage” has gone up and poor single women are being blamed for few births. Many factors are indeed involved causing the government’s policies to reverse course. Watch for ‘drastic measures’ to be announced soon by the Korean authorities! Laws must be made to Force women to get married and have more babies! Maybe enforcing laws on abortion might help? The KWB just shakes his head in dismay!

Beyond Culture Camp-Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

"Beyond Culture Camp"

The Korean War Baby is currently reading the entire 112 page report, whew! This is from the “Beyond Culture Camp” report from November 2009 that just came out. I highly recommend all members of “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” to look at Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s website and download a FREE copy of the PDF Adobe file and read the 8 page summary. Here is a Overview and “Principal Recommendations”:


“This study, released in November, is the broadest, most extensive examination of adult adoptive identity to date, based on input from the primary experts on the subject: adults who were adopted as children.
The principal recommendations of the 112 page study include:
  • Expand parental preparation and post-placement support for those adopting across race and culture. Such preparation should include educating parents about the salience of race across the developmental course, instruction about racial identity development and the tasks inherent in such development, and assistance in understanding racial discrimination and how best to arm their children to combat the prejudice and stereotypes they will face. Preparation also should include the understanding that seeking services and supports is a positive part of parenting - i.e., it is a sign of strength, not failure.

  • Develop empirically based practices and resources to prepare transracially and transculturally adopted youth to cope with racial bias. This study, as well as previous research, indicates that perceived discrimination is linked with greater psychological distress, lower self-esteem, and more discomfort with one's race/ethnicity. Hence, it is essential to arm transracially adopted youth with ways to cope with discrimination in a manner that does not negatively impact their identity.

  • Promote laws, policies and practices that facilitate access to information for adopted individuals. For adopted individuals, gaining information about their origins is not just a matter of curiosity, but a matter of gaining the raw materials needed to fill in the missing pieces in their lives and derive an integrated sense of self. Both adoption professionals and the larger society need to recognize this basic human need and right, and to facilitate access to needed information for adopted individuals.

  • Educate parents, teacher, practitioners, the media and others about the realities of adoption to erase stigmas and stereotypes, minimize adoption-related discrimination, and provide children with more opportunities for positive development. Generations of secrecy, shame and stereotypes about adoption (and those it affects) have taken a toll, as the respondents in this research make clear. Just as discrimination based on color, gender, sexual orientation and religion - all components of people's identity - are broadly considered to be socially unacceptable, adoption-related discrimination also should be unacceptable. Professionals and parents also need to be better informed about the importance of providing diversity and appropriate role models.

  • Increase research on the risk and protective factors that shape the adjustment of adoptees, especially those adopted transracially/culturally in the U.S. or abroad. More longitudinal research that combines quantitative and qualitative methods is needed to better understand the process through which children, teens and young adults progress in confronting transracial adoption identity issues. Additional research is also needed on the identity journey experienced by in-race adoptees - and, pointedly, more of the studies of every kind need to include the perspective of adopted individuals themselves.

The Korean War Baby will make comments in next post.

December 18, 2009

Orphan- Definitions

OrphanAnnie
It is important for those involved in any way with “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” to really know the meaning of the English word ‘orphan’. Here is the Greek word, followed by the Hebrew word used in the New Testament and Old Testament respectively. Reference from “Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries”.
GREEK: ρφανός
orphanos
or-fan-os'
Of uncertain affinity; bereaved “orphan”, that is, parentless: - comfortless, fatherless.

Strongs Hebrew - H3490
יתום
yâthôm
yaw-thome'
From an unused root meaning to be lonely; a bereaved person: - fatherless (child), orphan.
This is the definition used by the United States Immigration.
Link here

Orphan

“The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a definition of an orphan for the purposes of immigration to the United States.
A child may be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents. The child of an unwed mother or surviving parent may be considered an orphan if that parent is unable to care for the child properly and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. The child of an unwed mother may be considered an orphan, as long as the mother does not marry (which would result in the child’s having a stepfather) and as long as the child’s biological father has not legitimated the child. If the father legitimates the child or the mother marries, the mother is no longer considered a sole parent. The child of a surviving parent may also be an orphan if the surviving parent has not married since the death of the other parent (which would result in the child’s having a stepfather or stepmother).
Note: Prospective adoptive parents should be sure that a child fits the definition of ”orphan” before adopting a child from another country, because not all children adopted abroad meet the definition of “orphan,” and therefore may not be eligible to immigrate to the United States.”
The KWB has heard many complain that the definition of an ‘orphan’ is one who has lost BOTH mother and father. It was considered for 2,500 years that it is first Fatherless then worse to be without both parents. In numerous dictionaries it can be Both or One parent that is ‘lost’.
When a natural/birth mother, for whatever reason, is separated from her baby the child can be considered a ‘double orphan’. We all suffer to various degrees these traumas and wanting to Know what happened can also be a high or low need.
Some adoptees don’t want to search, some fearing the effects on Adoptive Parents/family or are not interested. As children grow into the teens sometimes curiosity grows to ‘discover self-identity. These issues should be discussed if possible and some Adoptive Parents are being helped with these issues. Again, the internet can provide much help but the wise seek answers from many different sources.
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December 16, 2009

Unwed mothers need aid

Unwed mothers need aid - INSIDE JoongAng Daily

YOU SEE, The Korean War Baby is not making this all up! This JoongAng Daily articles references the NY Times here article which actually is about the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s November study. Link is here Beyond Culture Camp. Take time to read at least the Overview in the first pages.
Note this comment:

“The country has been trying to shake off the dishonor of being one of the largest “exporters of orphans.” Yet abandoned babies are still carried off overseas in search of families that want them. Most of the babies put up for adoption come from single mothers. Of 1,250 children adopted by foreign families last year, 90 percent were born to single women. Children continue to be put up for adoption because our society does not approve of unmarried women raising a child on their own. The same paper last month pointed out that most single women give up babies because Korean society eyes them almost like criminals.”

Can you see why only 25% of unwed mothers try to keep their babies? Yet ten years ago the numbers were only 5% so things are improving. Society will take some time, as the conditions are similar to USA in early 1960's on attitudes. In western society it is accepted (Single mothers) so much that we don't even think of it. Not so in Korea, yet, but with divorce now rampant it has changed laws concerning "Family registry", custody, etc. Many single women who got divorced now need childcare centers for example.

“Laws can be changed but the hearts of the people take longer.” KWB

Shame and guilt has NOT worked, all methods must be tried though to help change the hearts of our mothers' people. Society is slowly moving forward, we cannot change the past, only help form the future. We who were adopted must try to understand all these facts as we sort out the Why’s and How’s of our lives. It would be nice if there was no need of abortion, divorce, adoption, but let's be real...This Thing of Ours-Adoption will be a reality for a few more years.

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