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 1, 2010

Korean Lint: Korean Photographs at Changwon's Art Museum



 The Korean War Baby was struck at this photo he found on the net. He just got permission to use it and link to the Changwon Art Museum that was exhibited last year in April, 2009.



Korean Lint: Korean Photographs at Changwon's Art Museum

"Photo note: This brochure scan of the 1950 original doesn't do the photograph justice. The haunting look in his eyes in the real photograph remined me of that Afghani girl on the cover of National Geographic. I've never seen a black an white shot with such a variety of striking textures either. You can't see it in the scan so much, but his skin is dry and cracked, with skin and tattered clothing contrasting sharply with a smooth, grimy, almost oily look to most of the fabric. This was the best shot in the whole exhibit."
 Dailybellybuttonlint.blogspot
Tyler Beal, Colorado, United States
 
Strongs Bible Dictionary of Greek/Hebrew-H3490
יםתו
yâthôm
yaw-thome'
From an unused root meaning to be lonely; a bereaved person: - fatherless (child), orphan.
 
Who knows what happened to this lonely, fatherless, motherless, street orphan. I hope and pray that he was gathered by the photographer and taken to an orphanage that very day. Was he "Lucky"? Did he get robbed of his Korean culture and heritage? Does he miss the utter poverty of post-war Korea, where hundreds of thousands struggled to eat, find shelter, clothing, warmth, protection? Families were separated from each other not knowing if they were even dead, taken to the north, or dead.
 
Yes, Korea has come a long way. Reasons for Inter-Country Adoption have changed over each decade, yet the Korean people continue to be ashamed and embarrassed about relinquishing their children. Some reasons remain the same but it is no longer the issue of poverty. It is the Language of Blood relationship importance and pride that will not accept a daughter that refuses to Abort her child. 

This is why we see One out of Three babies born in 2008 from unwed mothers who chose to keep their baby a significant improvement. Yet the two other babies were then waiting for adoption secretly by Domestic Adoption and half of them are selected. The remaining one third are then available for Inter-Country Adoption.

Some Adoptees get upset or even angry when curious but naive people make unwittingly a comment like "Wow, you were lucky to be adopted"!!! OH, the shock, the insult! Well...let's get a grip and think about it.

A revolver usually has Six 'rounds' in the cylinder. It "Revolves" thus revolvers were first known as "Six-shooters" for obvious reasons. Many have seen the famous movie about Vietnam called "Deer Hunter" where American POW's were forced to 'play a game' with one round in the cylinder, then spun around. The prisoner must put the revolver to his head and squeeze the trigger to Fire (Mao!!). The Odds are One out of Six of finding the chamber with the live round, uh thus losing your head. (My bad...before I had math deficiency-said six to one). *Additional note: Please do NOT try this game, ESPECIALLY with an Automatic pistol, you know, the one with a SLIDE and Magazine inserted into it. Guaranteed, you will lose!!!

Now suppose that you had a "Paint Ball Revolver" with different colors, say Green for "Stay with Mother", Blue for "Secret Domestic Adoption", and Orange for "Inter-Country Adoption". You take TWO rounds (Paint Balls come in many colors).
 
Paint Ball ammo comes in many colors, used for 'teams'.

So are you following? To keep the ratio we must put Two Greens, Two Orange, Two Blues, and Spin the cylinder to randomly decide where every baby goes.
 
WAIT a minute!! The Green stays with Mother. So we only have Blue and Orange paintballs to chose WHAT BABY stays in Korea, what baby goes Overseas. Are you getting the PICTURE? 

Not to scale but 33% of Babies born
goes to each group. A-Mother, B-Domestic, C-InterCountry
 
 
The Korean War Baby doesn't want to call it Luck, but maybe FATE or CHANCE fits better. At this present time in the year of a new Decade, 2010 a baby has 1 out of 3 Odds to be in one group or another.
 
This Chart comes from  KUMSN
Korean Unwed Mother Support Network.
TrackBack Link 

Table 2> Destination of Out-of-Wedlock Births: Adopted, With Mothers, and Unidentified                         (Unit: Person)



1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996

Out-of-Wedlock Births
7,259
8,304
8,799
9,272
8,748
6,290

Adopted
2,758
2,717
2,980
2,913
2,699
2,822

With Mother
472
548
590
630
604
440

Unidentified
4,029
5,039
5,229
5,729
5,445
3,028


1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002

Out-of-Wedlock Births
4,196
4,428
4,716
5,540
5,330
5,184

Adopted
3,082
3,338
3,622
3,706
3,862
3,708

With Mother
298
319
391
476
586
839

Unidentified
816
771
703
1,358
882
637


2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
-

Out-of-Wedlock Births
6,082
6,116
6,459
6,805
7,774
-

Adopted
1,778
1,863
2,048
2,241
2,656
-

With Mother
1,299
1,622
2,048
2,157
2,464
--

Unidentified
1,319
987
1,247
1,747
3,014
-
Sources : Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family 2008. Total Number of Adopted Children
within and outside Korea
  Estimated Number of Children raised by their own Mothers
Unidentified Children = - ( + )
          Note  :   is estimated based on previous survey results.   The percentage of unwed mothers wishing to keep their children is  this: 5.8% /1984, 7.2%/1998, 8.3%/1999, 8.6%/2000,   11%/2001, 31.7%/2005.
 
Again, just do the math...Until the numbers shift, there is a need for Both Domestic and Inter-Country Adoption. When the government and society, plus the family support rises and Unwed Mothers ALL choose to keep their Babies, then other options will continue.
 
It is a "Numbers game" where a baby goes...We who were Adopted, must learn the facts, continue on with healing, forgiveness, finding self-esteem and identity. 

 

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