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.

January 31, 2010

Haitian Adoption Inquiries: US Dept. of State

The Korean War Baby is concerned about the orphans in Haiti on many levels. First and foremost is that they receive immediate needs through well established NGO’s with a history of working in the country. Care must be taken to connect a child with family that is able and willing to take care of them. The operative words though are both ‘able and willing’ to take care of them.

The US Department of State and Homeland Security are working to prevent the abuse of child trafficking and this FAQ’s from the US Dept. of State will show that every precaution is being taken.
Haitian Adoption Inquiries: FAQs

As a Korean Adoptee My Story(though of mixed-blood ONLY, ahem) the KWB  was ‘saved’ from the post Korean poverty after the Korean War (children-of-war). The fighting had ended just three years before his departure from Seoul, Korea, yet as you all know the economy was devastated. His mother had brought him and his biological sister to the World Vision center where Harry Holt had just started Holt Adoption Program. Even in those early days Mr. Holt tried to keep records and photos of all the children they were receiving both mixed-blood and full-blood children separated, abandoned, or orphaned. Those of mixed-blood were considered to be Devil Child-Tuigi, children of YangKalBo (women who prostituted themselves to Foreign devils). His own wife, a Korean public servant who carries a gun, has been called that by her peers.
Contrary to some false or misguided claims, Harry and his wife Bertha KNEW that one day children would come back to visit their motherland. They kept very detailed records personally and Molly Holt showed the KWB the museum at Ilsan compound where he saw this:
Logbook started March, 1956.
A-20_JunYongSoo_DonaldGordonBellThe Korean War Baby was quite surprised to see his photo in a logbook and his number A-20, when he first came to Korea in 1994. It is the same photo taken by Dr. David Hyungbok Kim who was at that time working as a translator for Harry Holt. Harry trusted him to become the first Korean head of an NGO. His book can be found under the title “Who will Answer”.

Dr. Kim (A) met him in a visit to Holt International Children’s Services in Eugene, Oregon.

JUN Yong Soo_'56Passport
DGordonBell_Jun YongSoo
Both of these shots were taken same day! He was too happy so they gave him a Hershey’s chocolate bar THEN took it away. Notice the shocked look “What happened to the sweet stuff?” Common you have to reason that nobody would adopted a happy looking kid.  It is a media thing that shows only that most folks are moved by images of sad, skinny, hungry, dirty, (fill in the blanks).
There was no ‘selling’ or trafficking of children going on then though a few cases have been and documented. The KWB positions on these matters is well documented on this humble blog. The reasons for Koreans sending children away over the decades are many and have changed with society changes. Presently every year more and more unwed mothers choose to keep their children, yet 2/3 are given up for adoption in domestic and InterCountry Adoption.
It does NOT always have to do with the nation’s economy but rather more the personal conditions of the birth family/mother. Blood matters to many still and therefore domestic adoptions are mostly done in secret. This is not a good thing because most children know in their spirit and sometimes DO find out as Late Discovery Adoptees. That is a double shock to learn suddenly that one was adopted.
The KWB believes that a multi-level approach is needed to keep a balanced policy to This Thing of Ours-Adoption.
Let us keep an eye on the Haiti situation and give what we can to the organizations we know can do the most and have a proven track record.

January 29, 2010

Follow Up-"Suck it up..."

The Korean War Baby hopes that it is understood that the previous post “Suck it up People” has nothing to do with ‘becoming a Marine’. Rather it is that without mutual help, or team spirit, a military unit cannot  function unless they work together. Perhaps therefore, it is necessary to post a Comment and the KWB response. PLEASE the comments section does work, give him your views, curse him, tell him he is full of it. All comments will be posted, but it seems that Spam gets sent quite often so comments are monitored. Here is a comment from one who has been blogging for many years, with the KWB response. 
Again read the meanings of "Suck it Up" 
urbandictionary (Under the military meaning of stop complaining and just deal with it)
girl4708 said...  
One, I don't want to be a marine. Or carry a rock in my sock.

Two, I've sucked it up for over 40 years and found it to be very unhealthy and think it's time to dismantle that edifice in my own case. It is quite obvious that you're not doing so well sucking it up yourself, given the amount of ranting about adoption you do on a website devoted to identity issues. That's kind of the antithesis of sucking it up. The shouting really doesn't help spread your position at all.

In addition, you talk about adoptee unity while dismissing the very real and valid feelings of many. That's not very inclusive in my book. Those that don't suck it up in the manner you find acceptable - their voices also count.

As for bananas and twinkies, I really don't think you are either. You are like the majority of Americans, white but of mixed ethnicity. Proclaiming your Asian heritage is your choice. It's not a choice for most of us. That's a lonely place to be, but at least you can be thankful you were saved.

In our discovery process, many of us who weren't saved from the war will come up with different conclusions than you. I don't speak for all adoptees and never have, but to me there's something seriously wrong when adoptions continue over 50 years AFTER the war is over. If the adoption agencies weren't here, then Korea would be forced to work out their own social issues.

I don't want to see Korean children having to write blogs like ours 20 years from now.

girl4708 said...
btww, I totally agree with everything you've written in the sidebar to the left. It doesn't seem to correspond with this "suck it up" post.

The Korean War Baby responds to these excellent and thought provoking comments:
Okay, finally found out the comment section works. Thank you for you comments (for the record girl 4708 and the KWB do know each other-with hopefully mutual respect.)

He is not 'whining about his own condition', rather he is strongly Ranting against those who claim that their's own whining represents ALL of the Adoptees. He therefore does not need to 'suck it up'. This means that for most of you 'pure bloods' (Just a little whine from a Half-Breed-which he is very proud of his Multi-Ethnicity). There is though, and has been a need to just Suck it up, deal with the issues of their life.

YES, this is what most have done. If we read the recommendations of E.B. Donaldson's Adoption Institute there are good points they make for Adoptive Parents/Agencies/NGO's/Adoptees to be equipped better to DEAL with life. 
In addition, you talk about adoptee unity while dismissing the very real and valid feelings of many.
Adoptee unity does NOT exist in the sense that we all have different experiences depending on our group. You rightly point out that mixed-blood adoptees or even children from mixed-blood marriages have some different issues. What the KWB hopes is a Unity in accepting the differences and understanding of each other. What he Rants against is those few who would claim to represent most of us.

Many Koreans view adoptees with guilt, some shame, pity, embarrassment, etc. Some in government think that all or most adoptions were terrible. This is NOT the case. He challenges any to present the surveys that claim that 'all or most adoptions are negative' and that all adoptions should stop then Korean Unwed mothers would Keep their babies. The fact is that only 31.7% are keeping their babies as of 2007. 
If we could work together perhaps the NEED for finding homes for the 2/3 given up for adoption would no longer be there. Australia is an example, is it not? There is several studies about how over the past 40 some years some provinces in Australia have actually stopped even Domestic Adoption because the society has accepted Single women/Unwed mother to keep their babies. The KWB agrees to work to see that day, but doubts that he will be here on this earth when that happens.
How can you stop adoptions, both domestically or ICA? Where do the children GO, Pray tell? Foster Care then overcrowded institutions where as they get older, they will have a harder chance to even be adopted domestically (in Secret-for which by God the KWB will RANT AND RAVE against this always).
The stats are that children who are in institutions have only 5% chance of even attending university. The numbers show that it is necessary to CONTINUE secret domestic adoptions (don't forget the CIVIL Adoptions that are not covered under the Special Adoption Revision Laws-These are going to be covered in the next post on the Korean Women's Development Institute report from last year on "Korean Unwed Mothers'). AND InterCountry Adoptions should/must continue-for Left Over Children and for the Special Needs Children.
Don't some of you want to rant and rave about these facts. Hey, don't trust him, check every report, read it for yourselves. 

As for bananas and twinkies, I really don't think you are either. You are like the majority of Americans, white but of mixed ethnicity. Proclaiming your Asian heritage is your choice. It's not a choice for most of us.
Thank you. You bring up a great point on Identity. You all know the Banana story: Yellow on the outside, white on the inside. 

 Proclaiming your Asian heritage is your choice. 

OUCH, kicked me hard there. "et tu, Brutus?" LOL. It was Not his choice. As a MultiEthnic person he was always asked, “What ARE you”. Perhaps we who are MultiRacial are questioned more so than those of full blood, (Not exactly jealous but I still have to just smile when Korean Adoptees ask him at conferences, “Why are you here?” I learned to just laugh and suck it up, (not complain or feel hurt or angry-it just is what it is and endure it with a laugh).

Perhaps though, many assumed you guys and gals who ARE "Yellow on the outside/White on the inside" were “Oriental/Asian/ or picked the popular country of the decade…Jap, Chink, Gook (Vietnam vets called the enemy ‘gooks’ after hearing Korean troops call others “something Gook”). Most American can’t tell the difference...'we all look alike'. Many anecdotal stories and surveys show that returning Korean Adoptees have to face the stupid questions like "Why don't you speak Korean'...You should speak Korean" or "come back when you can talk".

Isn't that so? What are you gonna do? Whine, or just "Suck it up" and deal with it. Learn Korean and some will accept you, others will laugh but to hell with those prejudice types. Those who SUCK IT UP also Don't take shit from anyone. 

Seems to me that Girl#4708 is NOT a whiner, but a fighter! Whiners don't stand up for their rights. Girl#4708 does not fit the whiner camp. Go read her stuff, very well written and the parts the KWB likes the most are all about the last year she has taught High School students in the motherland. "Welcome to the Motherland" he would say, meaning once you come and live here, then you learn so much more about what it means to be "KOREAN".
This is the point being made- for the next generations of Adoptees to be better prepared Adoptive Parents ARE being counseled better but it should be universal with every adoption agency. Since the Hague Convention was signed by the USA finally, many adoption agencies have been adjusting.

Adoption will never go away, because stopping Adoption will not solve all the problems. For those who think that stopping it in Korea is an option the question must be asked HOW? In 2007, exactly 7774 Babies were born and only 1/3 were kept by their mothers. That is a great improvement from the years before. But the KWB Rants against the Secret Domestic, the Civil Adoptions (CA are not counted in Government figures at the MOHWFA) that dwarf both Domestic and ICA together. Can we not Rant together against these travesties against children? 

Korean people are NOT even adopting hardly any Special Needs children, and 1268 'regular children' who were LEFT OVER, should at least have a home in another country. The Korean War Baby is proud that those of "Mixed-Blood" are counted among the "Disabilities" list. Don't believe him? go OverseasAdoptedKoreans_StatsOnAdoptees/StatsOnDisabilities

* In Girl4708's case she ran into problems with getting all the information on her personal case, plus her adoption story, well go there by clicking on her name (of course you know that). (This is a totally different case, and this post is not related to her's or others who have found discrepencies/falsehoods/lies/ etc. in their cases) Their stories ARE NOT whines but legitimate complaints. Every case must/should be exposed and ways found to prevent them from happening.
The KWB thinks everyone should have a voice. He does not discredit anyone voice except when they claim they speak for ALL of us.

But when a few misrepresent and claim to speak for all adoptees, well, he will Rant and Rave "Not True in all cases". There are thousands of Korean Adoptees who have overcome the "wanna be White" and gone beyond culture camp on their own and learned about "Being Korean" to deeper and deeper levels. They indeed have gone beyond the Culture camp. One in four may have visited Korea to learn more about the motherland.

Not all have visited Korea, the pyramid gets smaller in number as we go to deeper levels of seeking our identity and Koreanness. Those who have lived here more than a year are only the tip of the iceberg. For others though, they can learn from hearing their stories.
But a few claim that they represent most of us. Those who had bad or horrible experiences do not represent the majority. The KWB DOES NOT discount these horror stories, you know that. But he will not let a small minority claim to represent the majority and demand stopping Intercountry Adoptions ONLY. How about the CIVIL and Domestic Adoptions, Foster Care, Institutional care until they are kicked out.

HOW About them? Are you against ALL these? Shall we Demand that all Unwed mothers Keep their Babies. What does the "right of the mother" have to do with the young mothers, abandoned by their 'boyfriends', families who bring tremendous pressures to Abort or Give up, as the Momma Mia group has attested?

The KWB's analogy is not about 'becoming a Marine'. The point of his 'tongue in cheek' story is that no matter what a person's situation is, they have to deal with it WITH HELP. When the recruits 'fell out' and went back to help their fellow recruits THAT is how they MADE IT.
The ranting of the Marine DI to "Suck it up" DID NOT do the trick...his friends were about to quit the race, facing Recycling into another platoon. It was Gung Ho TEAM SPIRIT and helping each other by literally going back and carrying our brothers backpacks, rifles, pour our water over their heads. We carried them along, with our arms under them until they could regain their WILL to SUCK IT UP (which also has another meaning to endure by the way).

This was the main point of his post, but sorry, the KWB is not a gifted or lettered writer. ;)

Certainly he doesn't mean "Go kill yourself" seriously, but some people need a kick in the butt or in Korean style a "Ddong Chim" poke to help them want to live. Once he grabbed a friend who whined over and over that he 'just wanted to die'. So the KWB put a choke hold on him, yes, like we learn by actually choking each other unconscious in the training to become a Marine.

His friend struggled for life! Kicking and clawing, until the hold was released. "Looks like you want to LIVE!" This is not recommended unless you have training in choke holds and know CPR, BTW. His friend lost the desire to kill himself after seeing how his body naturally struggled to LIVE.

Well, some people need a kick in the ass, some need a firm shoulder to cry on. But we need each other "To Lean on".

Most people he has found really struggle to live when in a life or death situation. When we have no one to help, then the depressed seek death and after many attempts may find it.­ He is personally familiar with the feeling of suicide (You will have to read his book for that one).

This post therefore does correspond with the sidebar, in essence. Main point is "Suck it up in order to survive". Thank you Girl#4708 for your comments and the opportunity to clarify himself.

How about it? "This Thing of Ours-Adoption", goes beyond the Triad, it includes NGO, governments, extended families, social workers, media, so many. Let's us continue to dialog, argue in respect, presenting our opinions, all with the Gung Ho spirit. 

Ah Rrruuhh Ra! Just have to shout out a Recon Marine yell.

January 28, 2010

Suck it up People…You want to be a Marine? Suck it up!!

2sums_t607 Marine Drill Instructor helps to instill team spirit by ‘sharing the load’ from stragglers who are falling behind. 

“Suck it up people! Are you gonna quit on me, private? Then, move yer ass!!”

It was the first ten mile run, the platoon ran with full packs, rifles, web gear, etc. They were not even at the half-way point. Some dozen recruits had fallen out of the ranks and were far back, strung out and a few almost ready to quit. The Marine Drill Instructors were badgering the rear stragglers to catch up with the main pack.

The Korean War Baby was in the ranks in his usual position as a smaller man, one of the last in the main formation. He glanced back, concerned about two of his friends who were stumbling along behind. If they dropped out and quit, they might be “RECYCLED” a word that brought recruits shudders. Recycled would me going backward several weeks to another platoon AND DOING EVERYTHING AGAIN!

As the Platoon Commander jogged back to the end of the formation to check on the men behind, the KWB called out to him.

Sir, the Private requests permission to ‘Fall out’ and assist stragglers, Sir!”

The Platoon Commander asked him, “Why you want to do that, Private?”

“Sir, it’s the Marine Way! Gung Ho!” (note to non-Marines, “Gung Ho” was a Chinese saying picked up by so called China Marines, the 4th Marine Regiment. It means “Working Enthusiastically Together in Harmony” and has become one of many mottos of the US Marine.)

The Platoon Commander smiled and gave me, and several others who volunteered, permission to fall out and ‘make sure they made it all the way’. Well, we did by Gung Ho spirit, pushing and pulling our fellow recruits to catch up on the next downward sections.

On the last stretch we redressed our lines, straightened our gear, raised our M-14 rifles to a proper “Port Arms” position, and were looking good. Every swing d#%@ of our platoon finished the run, and we were proud as we came across the line. Later our Platoon Commander actually told us that we were the only platoon to come across TOGETHER in formation. Gung HO! Semper Fi!

suck it up slang - Google Search

2marine_t607 "SUCK IT UP"- “stop whining, bitching, complaining, moaning, etc. Just deal with it, move on, endure mental, physical, or emotional hardship with no complaining.” To a Marine, who loves to bitch about everything, we still Suck it Up and Be Marines.

Many times in life people are faced with incredible hardships, trials, impossible tasks, etc. Life is full of ordeals that others who have not gone through cannot imagine. Unless we have ‘been there, done that, got the T-shirt’ we have little empathy or sympathy. But in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” we have many common experiences.

The KWB knows that many TransRacial/TransCultural adoptees have faced challenges, prejudices, social miss-identity (called another ethnic slurs-most don’t even know the differences), the list goes on and on. He does not want to sound flippant, or without feelings…but sometimes you just have to

SUCK IT UP, Korean Adoptee!! Stand up for who you  are, you are not White! So What?! Get over it. You are a unique individual, you are alive, act alive! Don’t take crap from anyone! It is your mind that matters most. Find out who you are, then LIVE.
Some people just whine and moan about being adopted…Oh, boohoo. hey better than being killed by your mother in abortion. Adoption isn’t the original problem, being abandoned by birth mothers, who had a plethora of reasons, her family, and Korean society is the Beginning of life’s traumas for many adoptees. Most of us have lived out our lives, loved our adoptive families as our own, adoption is just part of who we are and most would be consider themselves to be 'normal'.

Many have taken personal journey’s, “Beyond Culture Camp” on their own. Thousands have visited the motherland and sought to learn more and see the land that they came from. Hundreds have lived and worked in Korea over the years, only a few many years. Each has their different stories, the spectrum goes from wonderful to horrible on their reunions. Only 2,400 and change have 'found their birth families' with mixed results. But for most, they will not even have a chance to be on public television or print media. They must Deal with not knowing, sorting out their feelings and emotional wounds. They must survive, move on with life.

If you really think your would have been ‘better off dead’ then GO…kill yourself. OR get counseling, seek help, find God, religion. Read and learn from full-metal-jacket-ermeyothers on how to overcome. Seek help from those who have traveled the road ahead of you.

Only the strong survive, so grow a ‘pair’ or put a ‘rock in a sock’, brace yourself up, stand straight up. DEAL with your life, find your self-identity. The KWB is tired of hearing SOME of the “Woe is me. I are ruined because I were adopted” crowd.

Blaming all of life’s problems on adoption is not going to solve anything. How’s that working? Sorry to sound like a Marine Drill Instructor but well…Do or die.

Huge majorities of Korean Adoptees HAVE found their identity and self worth despite ‘being raised by White folks’. We are all “Twinkies or Bananas”, Western minds trapped in Asian bodies. Oh, and some ten thousand Half-Breeds like the KWB have had it just as bad if not worse. Fourteen years in his mother’s land but he and other ‘Tuigi’ will never be viewed by “Real Koreans” as Korean.

Many go far in studying the language, changing back to their ‘real’ name, desperately seeking to GO NATIVE again. We applaud your hard work but Lots of luck! Real Koreans will never think of you as, well, Really Korean. ‘Real Korean’ Koreans watch television shows with foreign devils speaking (some of them) very good Korean, but then they LAUGH! The KWB asks his students and friends why do you laugh? They tell him, because ‘they speak like small children’. Long ago the KWB stopped trying to learn his mother’s tongue for these reasons. But you gotta do what feels good to you.

Some would have you believe that a few represent the ALL. There is hardly, barely any ALL in All. The ‘main pact’ are the thousands of Korean Adoptees who are just dealing with it. YOU have to SUCK IT UP and deal with life. Some of us will fall back and help you catch up. We are in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” together. Let’s help each other run the race, even if we have to push, drag, or carry each other to the finish.

Warning on language!!

January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Marine!!

LZ_CampReasoner_lookingDueNorth Far to the north Dong Den OP
“Pssst…wake up motherfucker. You’re on watch next, get yer ass up!”
He woke with a slight start, momentarily wondering where he was at, then remembered. He was deep in the Annamese mountains of the Quang Nam Province, northwest of Danang City. Inside a reinforced ‘pup tent’, corrugated steel covered with sandbags. Sitting up he pulled on his boots and field jacket, grabbing his rifle, bandoliers of ammo and web gear. He crawled out and stood up, looking around at the starless night.
ElephantValley1It was 1:30 in the morning, on top of the highest peak, Dong Den Observation Post (OP). Overlooking the Elephant valley and the entire Danang Vital Area below, Dong Den was manned by a dozen Recon Marines who were mostly ‘so short they could walk under a door’. He was the “unlucky 13th man” and some were not happy about his presence. Lacing his boots up, he pulled on a stocking cap against the chill, pulled on some gloves, stumbled after the Sergeant to the north bunker. After giving him instructions the Sergeant turn back to the young Marine.

Oh, happy birthday!” 

The Korean War Baby celebrated his birthday yesterday by hiking into some hills near his home in Ansan City, KyongGi-Do province, 90 minutes southwest of Seoul. He took the day off and grabbed the dog, some food and water, left the cell phone at the apartment. Reflecting on his life, the past, present, and the future. Can it really be 58 years?! How many more? Oh, well…just take it one day at a time. What else can we do, in this life.
Happy Birthday to me!

January 22, 2010

A Note Regarding the Children of Haiti —

 From this note that gives guidelines and links on the cautions being taken to prevent abuses that might take place. DON’T worry folks, there will not be child trafficking or laundering going on there! Seriously it has happened, even in the Tsunami 2004 a few cases were reported but policies are in place to prevent this.
A Note Regarding the Children of Haiti — Adoption Blogs
For more information on Intercountry Adoption, you can visit the International Adoption webpage at or the U.S. State Department’s website on Intercountry Adoption.
Also Note THIS: Center For Adoption Policy blog
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Overseas Citizens Services Michele Bond

January 20, 2010
Treaty Room
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone, and Michele and Sharon, Lauren. I’m joined today with three of our extraordinary public servants from the federal government who you will hear from in a minute, and I will introduce them.

But first, I want to give you a brief update on developments in Haiti. Today we are closely monitoring the impact of the significant aftershock – it was above 6 on the Richter scale – that struck Port-au-Prince this morning, and we are assessing potential damage from it.

In better news, we saw the arrival of the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship with more than 600 medical personnel, that adds important capacity to our relief efforts….
One area we are urgently focused on is the plight of Haitian orphans, and I am pleased to have with us today Michele Bond from the State Department, who is heading up our efforts on this issue; Sharon Parrott, who represents Secretary Sebelius from the Department of Health and Human Services; and Lauren Kielsmeier from the Department of Homeland Security, working with Secretary Napolitano.

alg_school-collapse These three dedicated public servants, along with all whom they work with, are leading our efforts on behalf of the children who were orphaned before this earthquake, because children are especially vulnerable in any disaster, especially those without parents or other guardians to look after them. This devastating earthquake has left many in need of assistance, and their welfare is of paramount concern as we move forward with our rescue and relief efforts.

Now, when it comes to children, it is imperative that we closely coordinate with the Haitian Government, the United Nations, and our other international partners such as NGOs and faith communities who are on the ground, who are working to ensure that aid reaches Haiti’s orphanages and that the newly orphaned children are accounted for and cared for.

leogane-haiti-pic-dm-ian-vogler-745564000 But we will also be doing everything we can to unite the many children and families who have been separated in the aftermath of the earthquake and to do all that we can to expedite the travel of children who were in the line for adoption, who have a legal, permanent home, guardianship waiting for them. We will not let red tape stand in the way of helping those in need, but we will ensure that international adoption procedures to protect children and families are followed.
Well, There you go!! as the KWB’s best friend Nick Nicholson would say. We can rest assured that procedures to protect children and families are followed. Amen. Then and only then should more adoptions be processed, because there are folks who can give loving homes to many children. The KWB believes in a diversity of options in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”.

There are several hundred Americans in the United States who were already in the process of adopting Haitian children before the earthquake. As a mother, I share the anxiety that they must be feeling as they wait for word about their children’s safety, and we are doing everything possible to locate these children and then expedite their arrival in our country.
The State Department is heading up a joint task force with the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to streamline the process and ensure that families both get word and get reunited as quickly as we can. We’ve established an interagency working group to focus on the humanitarian needs of highly vulnerable children.
I want to underscore that we are consulting closely with President Preval and his government on this and every facet of this massive relief effort. They are setting the priorities for relief and recovery despite operating under the most difficult circumstances.
The KWB just wants everyone to know that there are ways to do things right, to make sure that abuses do not occur, even in the case of Haiti, which has not signed the Hague Conventions. Yet, as Secretary of State Hilliary Rodham-Clinton assures us, procedures will be followed to make sure the rights of the children are protected and only then to process orphans who are in such great need.

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The Desperate Target Haiti's Orphanages -

The situation in Haiti continues to get worse, with stories like this. Haiti has over 3,000 gangs that control neighborhoods with their power, leaving no wonder why the Haitian government that is still alive to ask for 3,500 more armed peacekeepers. Thus, the need for the US 82nd Airborne troops and US Marines to protect the convoys to distribute food and medicine. Some reporters have questioned, yes, questioned the need for soldiers in humanitarian missions. It is apparent from past situations that it IS very necessary to preserve law and order.
US Marines have been sent in before to bring order, such as in The United States occupation of Haiti began on July 28, 1915 and ended in mid-August, 1934. From 1911 to 1915 there were six different Presidents of Haiti, each of whom was killed or forced into exile. American President Woodrow Wilson sent 330 U.S. Marines to Port-au-Prince on July 28, 1915. The specific order from the Secretary of the Navy to the invasion commander, Admiral William Deville Bundy, was to "protect American and foreign" interests. US_OccupationHaiti_WIkipedia
You see, American and French banks had made many large loans to the Haitian government and businesses from both countries. Now some Haitians did not appreciate this and rebelled but with the help of US Marines order was enforced. In the following years, much was done to help the country. Infrastructure improvements were particularly impressive: 1700 km of roads were made usable, 189 bridges were built, many irrigation canals were rehabilitated, hospitals, schools, and public buildings were constructed, and drinking water was brought to the main cities.
Port au-Prince became the first city of Latin America to have phone service available with automatic dialing. Agricultural education was organized with a central school of agriculture and 69 farms in the country.
More recently US Marines were called in after Aristide was forced out. FoxNews_2004 


“U.S. Marines Arrive in Haiti After Aristide Flees”

To survive after quake, the desperate target Haiti's orphanages -
“The people of Haiti have grown desperate for food, water and assistance since the quake decimated the capital last week.
The conditions for children in Haiti are bleak, aid officials said. Orphans are sleeping outside or in makeshift tents. Facilities are running low on food, water and medical supplies. Some orphanages have already reported deaths.
Before the quake, Haiti had 380,000 orphans, according to UNICEF. It is still too early to determine how many children were orphaned by the quake.
The KWB notes that lessons learned from the 2004 Tsunami have produced guidelines to prevent the rushing of adoption of newly made orphans. Rather there are thousands who are already processed and should be allowed to move on, freeing up space for the thousands of new orphans. Evan B. Donaldson’s Adoption Institute has a great report:
Intercountry Adoption in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans policypapers
This report covers the lessons learned from the Tsunami and gives recommendations on watching out for the needs of the child and also practical ways to deal with the special situation. Read the full report.
Basically, we don’t need to fear that widespread ‘trafficking’ will occur because UNICEF and NGO’s in the country will NOT rush out children unless they have already been processed before. As this article shows though, security is still a big issue in this country. A squad of heavily armed US Marines for every orphanage should do the trick. Peace through Might. Sometimes it takes rugged men and women to preserve the peace at the end of a well aimed rifle and bayonette
6-MR-mood“Send in the Marines!!”

January 21, 2010

In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee – Update from Deann Borshay Liem of MuFilms

In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee - Mu Films
The Korean War Baby received this update from Deann Borshay Liem
As we start the new year, I wanted to give you a quick update on the progress of my film. As you know, I started “Precious Objects of Desire” a number of years ago to tell the story of Korean adoptions, from the Korean War to present day, while also telling the story of my search to find my “double,” Cha Jung Hee. My intention at the time was to combine a personal narrative with the story of adoptees from around the world.

After a lengthy editing process, I’ve decided to make two films – one that is a personal essay about the journey to find Cha Jung Hee and a second film that will explore in more depth the history of adoptions from Korea and tell the stories of adoptees from both the US and Europe.

The first of these two films, “IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE”, is almost complete. A synopsis is below. The film will premiere in March at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (On FaceBook) and then will hit the festival circuit in the summer and fall. Then the film will be broadcast nationally in the US in November on PBS through the award-winning series, Point of View (POV).


Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the US in 1966. Told to keep her true identity a secret from her new American family, this eight-year-old girl quickly forgot she was ever anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee?
In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers. It follows acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem as she returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America. Traversing the landscapes of memory, amnesia and identity, while also uncovering layers of deception in her adoption, this moving and provocative film probes the ethics of international adoptions and reveals the cost of living a lie. Part mystery, part personal odyssey, it raises fundamental questions about who we are…and who we could be but for the hands of fate.”

The second film, which I am still calling “Precious Objects of Desire”, is still in progress. Most of the film has been shot, transcribed/translated, and digitized. Now I just need to raise funds for editing. If all goes well, my goal is to complete this film by 2011.

Deann Borshay Liem


Well, how about it folks? Many of you helped raise funds for “Resilience” by Tammy Chu in time to debut in the Pusan International Film Festival last year. Visit MuFilms here and help out in anyway you can. You can use this link to DONATE:

Yes, We CAN. (You don’t know how difficult it is for a “ultra right wing conservative Marine” to use THAT phrase!) Buy a DVD in advance, have a beer instead of a bottle of wine and send the difference. Donate $100 dollars or Euros towards the Post-Production Editing costs. Let’s support our artists of all kinds, musicians, dancers, painters, authors, etc. In This Thing of Ours-Adoption, we are all brothers and sisters. YES, We Can.

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January 20, 2010

Beyond Culture Camp- Executive Summary

The Korean War Baby posts here the Executive Summary of the Evan B. Donaldson’s Adoption Institute’s recent report “Beyond Culture Camp” from November 2009. Previously the KWB posted the full report link HERE or just go to the left column of this blog. The full report is 112 pages though and the KWB has finally slogged through the whole thing with his trusty online dictionary to assist in understanding some of the ‘50-cent words’.

The Executive Summary is only 8 pages and it can be read entirely here:
2009_11_ExSum_BeyondCultureCamp.pdf (application/pdf Object)

For the ‘really busy’ reader or those ‘time challenged’, and some who are just plain lazy, a Summary of the Summary is provided by the astute commentary of the Korean War Baby. Please read the eight pages for yourself and determine your own conclusions after considering how it fits in Your Life. To each individual in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” the report and summary may/could/should have different levels of application to your own situation, whether you are an Adoptee, Adoptive Parent/family, Natural/Birth Mother/family, government social worker, Adoption Agency staff, etc.

Executive Summary

Transracial adoption is a reality of contemporary American life. Since 1971, parents in this country have adopted nearly a half-million children from other countries, the vast majority of them from orphanages throughout Asia, South America and, most recently, Africa. Additional tens of thousands of multiracial families have been formed during this period with boys and girls adopted from foster care, with the rate of such adoptions from the domestic system growing from 10.8 percent in Fiscal Year 1995, when there were about 20,000 total adoptions, to 15 percent in 2001, when there were over 50,000. In the vast majority of these cases –domestic and international – children of color have been adopted by Caucasian parents.

As you may have realized by now the KWB uses colorful text highlights to bring attention to important phrases or words. He has chosen to use the color Brown to represent HIS OWN comments. Brown just seemed to fit the color scheme of the background TAN, though some may feel that it means his words suggest a big pile of manure…

How do they develop a sense of racial identity when raised by White parents, most often in predominately White communities? How do they incorporate an understanding of both being adopted and of having parents who are of a different race or ethnicity than themselves? How do they learn to cope with racism and stereotyping? What experiences are beneficial to them in developing a positive sense of self? This ground-breaking study by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute constitutes the broadest, most extensive examination to date of identity development in adopted adults. It does so not only by reviewing decades of research but also, most importantly, by asking the experts – adult adoptees – about the experiences and strategies that promote positive identity development.

1 TRANSRACIAL Adoption (TRA) is defined as the adoption of a child of one race by one or two parents of a different race (domestic or international). In this study, TRA adoption is limited to the adoption of a racial minority child by two Caucasian parents.

TRANSCULTURAL (TRC) in this paper is defined as the adoption of a child (either domestically or internationally) who may be racially similar but ethnically different from the parents (i.e. an Ethiopian child adopted by African-American parents).

INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION (ICA), INTERNATIONAL or TRANSNATIONAL ADOPTION (TRN) in this study is defined as the adoption of a child born abroad. An intercountry adoption may be transracial, in which case it is almost always also transcultural (a Chinese child adopted by Irish-Americans) or may only be transcultural (a Russian child adopted by European-Americans).

Very important questions that perhaps most Korean adoptee have faced, whether of MultiEthnic and full-blood Korean Adoptees, but can also be applied in some ways to Koreans immigrants of all generations. Two groups were compared- “this paper concentrates on the 179 respondents born in South Korea and adopted by two White parents, and the 156 Caucasian respondents born in the U.S. and adopted by two White parents.” One may wonder why Caucasian children adopted by Caucasian Parents…It is the 'control group' that explores the issues of adoption without racial factors.

Through this study we sought to learn about identity development in adopted persons generally, but also about the impact of racial/ethnic difference from one’s parents.
Like many other studies of adoption, this one involves a self-selected sample of
respondents, so we cannot know to what extent they are representative of all adoptees. We title this study Beyond Culture Camp because we recognize that parents adopting across race and culture, and the professionals who guide them, have developed strategies such as camps and festivals to introduce or strengthen children’s connection to their cultures and countries of origin. Yet, as this study found, such activities – while important – are insufficient in helping children adopted across racial and national boundaries develop a healthy, positive sense of self.

Please, take twenty minutes to read the 8 page Executive Summary for yourself. The Findings and Recommendations are especially useful in understanding for all involved, beyond just adoptees themselves.

What is Beyond Culture Camps?
The KWB concurs that Culture or Heritage Camps only “introduce or strengthen children’s connection to their cultures and countries of origin”. They are limited yet powerful in bringing together many adoptees for the first time with others who look like themselves. In his own experience as a counselor the KWB experienced a very powerful connection and interest in his Korean roots. (As a MultiEthnic person, he had to answer the frustrating question “What are YOU doing here?” because of not looking Korean…Sigh).

Yes, for many other adoptees the journey of self-identity can go beyond these steps. Learning about Korean language, culture, food, history, etc. can be done through many resources, for those who seek it. The internet has given us huge amounts of information, perhaps how you may be reading this now. Korean adoptee groups sprang up especially in certain states with huge numbers of Korean adoptees. Adoptive Parents have also grown in knowledge that it is a good thing to help discover the cultural heritage of their adopted children. “Times have changed for the better” with Adoption Professionals, websites of Adoptive Parents, blogs, etc all extolling the discovery of one’s roots.

Returning Korean Adoptees
Since the 1988 Olympics the numbers of returning Korean Adoptees has increased, as they have indeed gone beyond culture camp to visit the homeland, on Motherland tours, often sponsored by Adoption Agencies and NGO in Korea. Some estimates are that 75,000 have made trips back to Korea. Only 2.7% have been reunited with birth families. Some 2,400 adoptees have made contact with birth family and made numerous trips back. The results are again a spectrum of great to very disappointing, frustrating, even some few cases of rejection.

For most Korean women to reveal that “Oh, by the way, your wife/mother once gave up a child for AH6x9coveradoption” is very, very difficult. Korean society continues to keep even 95% of Domestic adoption completely secret, hidden even from the child in most cases. This is due to the stigma against having a NON-Related child adopted into a family. Prejudice is still very high against a child who is adopted. This compares with the WHITE children that had WHITE Adoptive Parents.

This is NOT proper, for the Loss/Abandonment that effects all children separated from their biological mother varies in intensity as Dr. Joe Soll  brings out in his book "Adoption Healing: A Pathway to Recovery". Dr. Soll has an excellent website "Adoption Crossroads" that is full of resource materials.

Back In the Motherland
Most adoptees visited their orphanages, if they were still open, seeing first hand the conditions and experiences that they themselves may have gone through when they were processed for adoption overseas. Some appeared on Korean television shows or had newspaper articles written, after deciding to continue Searching for Birth Family. Not all adoptees get that chance nor do all want to pursue Search. Each must determine for themselves how much “beyond Culture Camp” they want to go.

The next level perhaps would be those who have come to live and work here. Hundreds have lived here for a period of time in Korea, many teaching language, some moving on to private businesses. The KWB came back on his first visit in 1994, three trips in 1995 and since Oct. 1995 continually has worked and lived here.

This Is Korean (TIK) label on the left column has many stories that show how REAL Koreans think about even Koreans who have studied or lived abroad more than 2 or 3 years! Kyopos or Korean emigrants to other countries are welcomed since 1999 because the country wanted to encourage money and expertise to come back. Those Koreans living in China, Japan, Russia, and other countries were NOT on the list and still have difficulty entering the country. North Korean refugees have many difficulties in living in with their Southern brethren. Even the coming Dual Citizenship has exceptions. Not all Koreans are equal. This is just the way it is, T.I.K.- This Is Korea.

Our understanding of Korean culture and identity grows yet is limited by many factors. Korean people have different levels of acceptance towards even any ‘Real Korean’ who has left the country. At the present time only a small percentage of people have open arms, hearts and minds towards Korean adoptees. It is improving but will take much more time. Those Korean Adoptees living here ARE influencing and bringing awareness to the motherland and are bringing more and more understanding.
So where are YOU? Where are you on the journey beyond culture camp? It is up to you to decide if you want more…the resources are here. Take the next step after reading and learning from those who have walked before you. Good luck and God Bless!

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January 15, 2010

When the Vietnam War raged... in the Philippines: NAKED VENGEANCE (1985)

The Korean War Baby salutes his fellow blogger Jack J: 
“Ahh, I've finally tracked down an uncut print of Cirio H. Santiago's 6320_1184653987368_1558820580_30492967_971241_nNAKED VENGEANCE!!! I'm told the only uncut version is this unrated US NTSC tape.

‘Arnie’, one of the five rapists, is turned into a ‘human slushy’. 

I'm getting the uncut version now, haha. Oh, and follower of this blog, Nick Nicholson, is in this as well. And if that's not enough our good buddy Fred Adelman said about NAKED VENGEANCE:
Mr. Santiago has directed over 50 features (many for Roger Corman) and is highly-regarded in his homeland of the Phillipines. I consider NAKED VENGEANCE to be his crowning achievement.

Read Fred's review here.

Desktop009The KWB does NOT recommend his fellow Adoptees, Facebook friends, students, Parents, Shinsegae Cultural Center students, etc. to watch this movie. Rated R.

Please DON’T watch it. Especially not the uncut version…He was one of the filthy rapists…in the movie, NOT in real life silly. Naked Vengeance was one of the early “Chick Revenge” flicks.


This was very difficult shooting a rape scene. Most of the time I was just wearing a jockstrap and a smile. We shot on location in Baguio City, north of Manila in the Mountain Province. It was only ‘acted out’ but Dir. Cirio Santiago created a violent, terrifying, and realistic scene. Many of the women on the set, production staff, make-up artists, wardrobe, etc. were really upset at us for several days. We all did our best at maintaining a professional attitude during the shoot. Actress Deborah Tranelli did a great job on this film,  shot during her ten year appearance on "Dallas" a major popular television drama.

Deborah Tranelli-leading role as Carla

DeborahTranelliThe talented Deborah Tranelli, who later played Bobby Ewing’s faithful Secretary ‘Phyllis' on popular TV drama “Dallas”. Here she answers questions for Interview UltimateDallas.

Greg_G in London asks How did you get the role of Phyllis, did you expect to be with the show for so many years.
Deborah - I was interviewing with an agent and the agent sent me out on the audition, they were replacing Bobby's secretary. When I first got it, it was just such a whirl wind, I thought it was for just one episode and never in my wildest dreams thought that I would still be there over 10 years later until the end of the series. The great thing about the show was that I was on a lot of the episodes but also had the opportunity to do lots of other television, continue my theatre and music. It was a wonderful job.

Yes, acting can be a wonderful job, no matter what role, as a background  artist (extra), bit player, character role, supporting and main cast…"There’s no business like Show Business.”

What a way to make a living!! The KWB was brutally killed, turned into a slushy by this female “vigilante”. His character DID deserve to die though…Thanks Jack J for the story.

Actors Kaz Garas as Fletch, Nick Nicholson as Sparky,
and Don Gordon Bell as Arnie.