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 2, 2010

Half-Korean girl struggles to find her own identity

Eom Wu-jeong shrugs off barbs from classmates, secretly wants cell phone

Half-Korean girl struggles to find her own identity - INSIDE JoongAng Daily

January 02, 2010
GIMCHEON, North Gyeongsang - Eom Wu-jeong, 11, was born and raised by her Korean father and Filipino mother.
Wu-jeong has black hair and dark skin, slightly different from other Korean kids, but she’s just like any preteen girl who gets excited over idol stars and the latest cell phones.


“...Marriage migrants boomed in Korea in the late 1990s. Wu-jeong’s parents married in 1996, and her mother is considered an early marriage migrant to Korea. Wu-jeong, the couple’s first child, was born two years later.


She’s the only multiethnic student among 30 students in her class. When Wu-jeong was in second grade, her classmates teased her about her skin color.


“‘Why is your skin so dark? Where is your mom from?’ That’s what they asked me,” Wu-jeong recalled. “I know that they were asking me not because they were really curious. They just wanted to tease me.”


The Korean War Baby also faced such teasing taunts and became aggressive as a way to cope. He learned from his youth to have a weapon always available,  like the 'Rock in a Sock' technique or a sharp knife. 



This young girl is learning though how to deal with this in her own way more peaceful way. Like many of you, who were adopted into different cultures and with Bi-ethnic Adoptive Parents these experiences are “Par for the course”. Most developed different way to deal with “growing up ‘colored’ in a White family”. It is easier when other siblings are also Multiethnic and the Adoptive Parents know how to deal with it.

But the 11-year-old said now she doesn’t care what her classmates say. “I don’t want to get into fights,” Wu-jeong said. She paused for a moment and continued: “To be honest with you, it’s not that I don’t care about it. I just try not to care.”


Wu-jeong feels that people’s eyes are on her mother when they go out together. Though the girl confessed she tries not to think of her classmates’ teasing as a big deal, she said she can’t stand the uncomfortable attention her mother gets.


It’s very unpleasant,” Wu-jeong said. “Whenever I see people’s eyes on my mom, I can’t get away from the feeling that they are thinking and saying they don’t understand why my mom came to Korea.


Yes, Wu-Jeong is learning to cope with the prejudice that still exists. She is not alone, according to latest stats from the government, more than 110,000 Multi-ethnic children have been born from Multi-Racial Marriages from the decade. They are changing the face literally of communities throughout Korea. The KWB loves what Wu-Jeong wants to do when she grows up:


But Wu-jeong is a girl with a positive spirit, and she’s mature enough to cope with all the difficulties.
“My classmates think I’m abnormal because I have darker skin,” Wu-jeong said. “But I think of myself as a special person. My dad’s from Korea and my mom is from the Philippines. I can learn two countries’ cultures, and I feel this benefits me more than children with just Korean parents.”


Wu-jeong said she wants to be a Korean literature teacher. “When I become a schoolteacher there will be lots of children born from multicultural families,” Wu-jeong said. “I’m not just going to teach Korean lessons to my future students. I will teach them how to appreciate and understand the cultures of other countries.


Go girl! She’s got it goin’ ON! The next generation, breaking prejudice with “In your face, here to stay” a REAL KOREAN. Watch out Korea, say goodbye to “homogenous and pure” nonsense, welcome to globalization and the 21st Century.

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