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 28, 2010

Suck it up People…You want to be a Marine? Suck it up!!

2sums_t607 Marine Drill Instructor helps to instill team spirit by ‘sharing the load’ from stragglers who are falling behind. 


“Suck it up people! Are you gonna quit on me, private? Then, move yer ass!!”

It was the first ten mile run, the platoon ran with full packs, rifles, web gear, etc. They were not even at the half-way point. Some dozen recruits had fallen out of the ranks and were far back, strung out and a few almost ready to quit. The Marine Drill Instructors were badgering the rear stragglers to catch up with the main pack.

The Korean War Baby was in the ranks in his usual position as a smaller man, one of the last in the main formation. He glanced back, concerned about two of his friends who were stumbling along behind. If they dropped out and quit, they might be “RECYCLED” a word that brought recruits shudders. Recycled would me going backward several weeks to another platoon AND DOING EVERYTHING AGAIN!

As the Platoon Commander jogged back to the end of the formation to check on the men behind, the KWB called out to him.

Sir, the Private requests permission to ‘Fall out’ and assist stragglers, Sir!”

The Platoon Commander asked him, “Why you want to do that, Private?”

“Sir, it’s the Marine Way! Gung Ho!” (note to non-Marines, “Gung Ho” was a Chinese saying picked up by so called China Marines, the 4th Marine Regiment. It means “Working Enthusiastically Together in Harmony” and has become one of many mottos of the US Marine.)

The Platoon Commander smiled and gave me, and several others who volunteered, permission to fall out and ‘make sure they made it all the way’. Well, we did by Gung Ho spirit, pushing and pulling our fellow recruits to catch up on the next downward sections.

On the last stretch we redressed our lines, straightened our gear, raised our M-14 rifles to a proper “Port Arms” position, and were looking good. Every swing d#%@ of our platoon finished the run, and we were proud as we came across the line. Later our Platoon Commander actually told us that we were the only platoon to come across TOGETHER in formation. Gung HO! Semper Fi!

suck it up slang - Google Search

2marine_t607 "SUCK IT UP"- “stop whining, bitching, complaining, moaning, etc. Just deal with it, move on, endure mental, physical, or emotional hardship with no complaining.” To a Marine, who loves to bitch about everything, we still Suck it Up and Be Marines.


Many times in life people are faced with incredible hardships, trials, impossible tasks, etc. Life is full of ordeals that others who have not gone through cannot imagine. Unless we have ‘been there, done that, got the T-shirt’ we have little empathy or sympathy. But in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” we have many common experiences.

The KWB knows that many TransRacial/TransCultural adoptees have faced challenges, prejudices, social miss-identity (called another ethnic slurs-most don’t even know the differences), the list goes on and on. He does not want to sound flippant, or without feelings…but sometimes you just have to


SUCK IT UP, Korean Adoptee!! Stand up for who you  are, you are not White! So What?! Get over it. You are a unique individual, you are alive, act alive! Don’t take crap from anyone! It is your mind that matters most. Find out who you are, then LIVE.
Some people just whine and moan about being adopted…Oh, boohoo. hey better than being killed by your mother in abortion. Adoption isn’t the original problem, being abandoned by birth mothers, who had a plethora of reasons, her family, and Korean society is the Beginning of life’s traumas for many adoptees. Most of us have lived out our lives, loved our adoptive families as our own, adoption is just part of who we are and most would be consider themselves to be 'normal'.

Many have taken personal journey’s, “Beyond Culture Camp” on their own. Thousands have visited the motherland and sought to learn more and see the land that they came from. Hundreds have lived and worked in Korea over the years, only a few many years. Each has their different stories, the spectrum goes from wonderful to horrible on their reunions. Only 2,400 and change have 'found their birth families' with mixed results. But for most, they will not even have a chance to be on public television or print media. They must Deal with not knowing, sorting out their feelings and emotional wounds. They must survive, move on with life.

If you really think your would have been ‘better off dead’ then GO…kill yourself. OR get counseling, seek help, find God, religion. Read and learn from full-metal-jacket-ermeyothers on how to overcome. Seek help from those who have traveled the road ahead of you.

Only the strong survive, so grow a ‘pair’ or put a ‘rock in a sock’, brace yourself up, stand straight up. DEAL with your life, find your self-identity. The KWB is tired of hearing SOME of the “Woe is me. I are ruined because I were adopted” crowd.

Blaming all of life’s problems on adoption is not going to solve anything. How’s that working? Sorry to sound like a Marine Drill Instructor but well…Do or die.

Huge majorities of Korean Adoptees HAVE found their identity and self worth despite ‘being raised by White folks’. We are all “Twinkies or Bananas”, Western minds trapped in Asian bodies. Oh, and some ten thousand Half-Breeds like the KWB have had it just as bad if not worse. Fourteen years in his mother’s land but he and other ‘Tuigi’ will never be viewed by “Real Koreans” as Korean.

Many go far in studying the language, changing back to their ‘real’ name, desperately seeking to GO NATIVE again. We applaud your hard work but Lots of luck! Real Koreans will never think of you as, well, Really Korean. ‘Real Korean’ Koreans watch television shows with foreign devils speaking (some of them) very good Korean, but then they LAUGH! The KWB asks his students and friends why do you laugh? They tell him, because ‘they speak like small children’. Long ago the KWB stopped trying to learn his mother’s tongue for these reasons. But you gotta do what feels good to you.

Some would have you believe that a few represent the ALL. There is hardly, barely any ALL in All. The ‘main pact’ are the thousands of Korean Adoptees who are just dealing with it. YOU have to SUCK IT UP and deal with life. Some of us will fall back and help you catch up. We are in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption” together. Let’s help each other run the race, even if we have to push, drag, or carry each other to the finish.


Warning on language!!



3 comments:

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  3. PLEASE read the next Post for Update with comments.

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