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 13, 2010

To Reconcile the Koreas, Teenagers Show a Way - NYTimes.com


CitizensAllianceNKHumanRights Ju Jin-ho (second from left) and Park Sung-eun (third from left) discussing how to make dumplings during a camp last year where North Korean defectors and teenage South Korean students cooked and compared each other's food in a get-to-know session. 

To Reconcile the Koreas, Teenagers Show a Way - NYTimes.com

When Germany found itself reunited almost over night, the country had been split apart since the end of World War Two. It took many years for the Western Germans and their separated brethren from the Communist East to reconcile and work things out. Polls show that most South Koreans are very worried about the Financial costs IT the Communist North were to follow the same sudden pattern.

This articles highlights the efforts of Citizens Alliance for North Korean Human Rights to help bridge the wide gap between children from the North who have escaped and are living in the South. Please NOTE, dear fellow adoptees, the prejudice that most Northern children face from the majority of South Korean children and society.

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Excerpts from article again show some positive signs…with those few students who are meeting and discussing some of the painful truths of

By CHOE SANG-HUN
Published: January 11, 2010

SEOUL — When Ju Jin-ho arrived here from North Korea in 2006, it was as if he had come to an alien continent, not just the southern end of the peninsula…
Even though the 14-year-old defector was placed in a school with children a year or two younger than he, most of his classmates were a head taller. They teased him as a “red.” They were far ahead of him in subjects like mathematics…


kimjongil_6views Notice the physical difference, “a head taller”! Years of famine and cut rations have stunted the Northerners while “dear leader” Kim Jong il enjoyed his wonderful food prepared by over twenty chefs and weekly flights from Europe bring in the finest products to insure that HE has the best cuisine. Poor leader has lost weight NOT from dieting but from his stroke and we almost, just almost lost him. We should all pray for his death health.
Here is another telling picture showing the dear leader putting on his best face as he ponders which one of his 3 sons will be anointed the next ‘king’ of the North.


A-composite-picture-of-Ki-001

Back to the article, (The KWB couldn’t help himself, he he).

The “Weekend Program for South and North Korean Teenagers Together” was begun last August by the Rev. Benjamin H. Yoon, 80, head of the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights.

“Although we share the same genes, South and North Koreans live like completely different peoples, with different accents, different ways of thinking and behaving,” said Mr. Yoon.

One October evening, when the students had gone camping and stayed up late, Moon Sung-il, a 14-year-old North Korean, brought tears to the South Koreans’ eyes when he recounted his two-and-a-half-year flight with other defectors that took him through China, Myanmar and a refugee camp in Bangkok. But he stunned them when he said that none of this was as daunting as a South Korean classroom.

“I could hardly understand anything the teacher said,” he said. “My classmates, who were all a year or two younger than I was, taunted me as a ‘poor soup-eater from the North.’ I fought them with my fists.

YOU SEE, Sung-il needs to know about ‘a rock in a sock’. This is only one article crossingabout the Northern children and their parents having problems getting a job, hiding their accents. THEY ARE NOT treated warmly by most Southern people, that is found here: blog about North Koreans facing prejudice, Social Adjustments NK Migrants, or the movie “the Crossing” here will give you the general idea.

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“Whenever something bad about North Korea came up during class, everyone turned to look at me,” said Mr. Ju, who now attends an alternative school for defectors after failing to advance to a regular high school. “When teachers and students spoke disparagingly about North Korea, I felt like they were insulting me.”

“Ms. Park said she used to look down on North Koreans. “I associated them with something poor, dark and negative,” she said.”

Although a spirit of unification persists in the South, many people balk at what is expected to be the prohibitive cost of integrating the economies. The North’s per capita income amounts to just 6 percent of the South’s, according to the Bank of Korea.”
I used to oppose unification because I thought we’d lose more than we’d gain,” said Hur Ji-young, a freshman at Kyunggi. Her friend Lim Hyo-jeong, however, said she supported it because she saw an economic advantage in a larger domestic market.


crossing_scene After mingling with the North Korean teenagers for a semester, hearing about their hardships and their concerns for relatives left behind, the South Koreans said they believed more strongly in unification, but now less for economic reasons than something closer to good will.
“Before I joined this pro
gram, I considered unification with a calculator, not with my heart for fellow Koreans in the North,” Ms. Hur said.”


****************************************

This is great news, that “some” children get a chance to meet each other in a healthy environment, most of them improving their attitudes…BUT this is only a tiny group. The government has not felt it is a big issue for principals and teachers to educate children about. Too much time, problem? what problem?

There are many ‘reasons’ for the feelings against the Northern migrants (this term has been chosen by them since they are treated in similar fashion to the foreign migrant workers who have come to Korea (South) to do work that most Koreans will not do, the so called 3-D, Dirty/Difficult/Dangerous jobs.

We who were adopted, domestically and overseas, face similar feelings coming back. There are different views but one must wonder “Why only 2.7% of the 75,000 Adoptees who have come back at least once, have ‘found their birth families’.” You read correctly, 2.7% or 2,400 adoptees have had contact with their biological families. The reunions vary, with good stories to bad stories. Over all things need to improve, and yes, some steps are being taken. Ms. Hur said it best though “Before I joined this program, I considered unification with a calculator, not with my heart for fellow Koreans in the North,”

Let us all work together for the day that most South Koreans will use their heart and open their arms to their brothers and sisters from all around the world. Amen?








1 comment:

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