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 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:
HoltMuseum_Logbook
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.

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