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 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





3 comments:

  1. What an amazing story. Gives one hope for a chance to reunite with their birth mother and family.

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  2. great post! amazing post i more like it! what an amazing reunion. it really does give hope to many people searching. But it teaches us the reality that is out there. many adoptees are angry but honestly its not the way to live because we dont know what happened to our mother and thats just the way that i think about it when i think of why my mom gave me up. its sad whats happening in Korea and many other countries, it breaks my heart. it has hurt my heart to know that you said even in the church the people dont believe in taking in a child that isnt of blood. its funny how every culture relates scripture to their liking. i am sure God did not plan for it to be that way.

    thanks again for this great post!

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  3. Korean War BabyJanuary 06, 2010

    The KWB thanks both commenters, especially Jessenia, who inspired him to start blogging when he read her blog title. "My Blood is Your Blood" after he had been pondering about DNA and the amazing new science of genealogy.
    Jessenia has become a "Voice of the Adoptees" in the USA and networks with many in "This Thing of Ours-Adoption. She continue to seek her beginnings and we wish her success.

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