THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION
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 16, 2009
An overlooked aspect of abortion debate
The Korean War Baby is pleased to see continuing Media attention to this subject because it is connected to the issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. The way Korean society views one effects the other, even the issue of Low Birth rate levels are interconnected.
“Recently, some local obstetricians declared that they will no longer perform abortions, a practice that is technically illegal in Korea but widely carried out nonetheless because authorities often look the other way.
(The KWB must interject that the authors are very mistaken: Since 1973 laws were passed to give medical reasons and for rape or incest, giving a LEGAL loophole for the practice.)
The move has brought a long-controversial topic back into the spotlight yet again, one that has taken on even greater significance as Korea struggles with a low birthrate.
While the government has taken an aggressive stance on boosting the birthrate - even announcing a crackdown on abortions - some observers say it has overlooked a key aspect of the debate: support for unwed mothers. The lack of such assistance, they say, has given rise to more abortions and therefore contributes directly to the low birthrate.
Again the KWB demurs on the authors’ logic and assumptions. “Lack of assistance…has given rise to more abortions and therefore contributes directly to the low birthrate.” Well this is just wrong, Rather, women who chose to KEEP their babies has risen from 1998 to 2005 according to their own article here:
“…data compiled by the Korean Women’s Development Institute, the ratio of single women who said they want to keep their babies rose from 1.2 percent in 1998 to 31.7 percent in 2005.”
Notice also this fact:
“A study from 2005 by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs found that 42 percent of abortions involved unwed pregnant women.”
Over and over the KWB sees faulty conclusions when the facts are contrary. See, that means that MARRIED WOMEN are still having , uh, 58 percent of abortions, wonder why? Medical reasons are actually less than 10% percent, could it be women still trying to get SONS? Just guessing. This is why one must check all possible sources of information and draw one’s own conclusions.
The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs also proposes to triple the monthly support.
“Our goal is to not just support unwed mothers in need, but to provide them with resources so that they can stand on their own feet. It is a more effective policy from a long-term perspective,” said Baik Su-hyun, an official with the family policy bureau at the ministry. “It is the first time that a particular subsidy for unwed mothers has been included in the ministry’s budget.” By Kim Jung-soo, Park Sun-young [firstname.lastname@example.org]
The Korean War Baby is pleased to see these developments and applauds the members of ASK (AdopteeSolidarityKorea) and TRACK (TruthReconciliationAdopteesCommissionKorea), KoRoot (Website here) as well as MPAK, Adoption Agencies, law firms, assemblypersons, everyone who is involved in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. It does take a village, to bring hope and change…