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.


January 6, 2010

Danish Video Artist Recalls Search for Korean Parents - The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea

 

Danish Video Artist Recalls Search for Korean Parents - The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea

janejinkaisenTo the video artist Jane Jin Kaisen, who was adopted by a Danish couple when she was three months old, the Korean War casts a long shadow. "In Korean society, there are still traces of the Korean War. I wanted to know how these traces influence the Korean people today, and how they are remembered among adopted Koreans. The War was the most important reason why Korea started exporting babies," she says.

She first realized that she was different from the majority of Danish people when she was five years old. "I was on a bus with my mom and I saw a dark-skinned person. I said, 'That's a black,' and my mother replied, 'That is not a polite expression. You are different, too. You are Korean.' It was then that I realized for the first time that I was different from normal Danish people.

In adolescence, she grew increasingly confused about her identity. "I think the sense that there was nobody in my family who was like me was the most difficult to bear."

Jane made several trips to Korea and looked for her records. She notes that many adoptees have trouble finding enough to find their biological parents. There is also the issue of offending the Adoptive Parents/family. She made the decision to pursue it and was successful in a reunion.

"The first time I met my biological parents, I was happy, yet I was also sort of sad and had very complicated emotions," she says. "Usually, you think a reunited family will be able to continue to meet up, but because we'd been separated for such a long time, there is big linguistic and cultural barrier. It is extremely difficult unless you make a lot of effort."

Jane Jin Kaisen has continued to reevaluate her identity, and she states "One thing I really want to tell you is that after I met my biological parents, I felt that I am no longer the same Dane I used to be." She has been able to widened her artistic horizon and deepened her understanding of different races and cultures. She is grateful that her background has pushed her to become what she is now.

kring-749468 Last year Jane Jin Kaisen’s video art installation was one of the exhibits on display at GOA’L "Boarding Bridges" at Kring Creative Culture Space, which brought artists, musicians, dancers from both Korean Adoptee and Koreans who have studied abroad. Ms. Kaisen is presently living in Los Angeles, California.

“Jane Jin received her education from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, The Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York, and the Interdisciplinary Studio Art Program at UCLA in Los Angeles, Cal. USA. Jan Jin’s work explosed how history, memory and discouses are constucted. From a postcolonial and feminist perspective , her work is invested in understanding the complex intersections of race, class, and gender in a transnational context. Her work often makes use of multi-layered narratives and juxtapositions of presumably contrdictory material and is often informed by psychoanalysis, anthropology, and linguistics.”

“Boarding Bridges”

1st Art Festival of International Korean Adoptees

2009.10.30 – 2009.11.01 

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