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 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"
parentingbookmark.com 
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.
wikipedia.org/wiki/Gung-ho 





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

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