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.


February 12, 2010

Balanced? Who Me?


Balanced? Who Me?


Time after time, the Korean War Baby claims that he tries to be "Balanced". What does he mean by balanced, someone asked him? "Are you the only one who is right?" they demanded. Of course not. Here is what the KWB means by being balanced.




Bruce Lee-The Little Dragon



In the fighting arts a student learns after the basics that "keeping your Center Balanced" is vital in delivering powerful strikes and kicks. As a student goes into intermediate levels of understanding he learns 'HOW' to shift his Center to be able to deliver high kicks for example without falling down on his butt. That can be very embarrassing, doing a 'jumping spinning wheel kick' and crumpling to the ground in a heap when it is blocked. Many learn 'too fast' and never master the basics of their art first.

Bruce Lee was one of the first to explain to Westerners the Eastern understanding of Kung Fu. "Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless.
Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend."

"When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style."

Bruce Lee rocked the classical styles and really upset them with his disdain for their 'rigidity'.


"The highest technique is to have no technique. My technique is a result of your technique; my movement is a result of your movement." 




In the movie "Enter the Dragon" Bruce Lee replies after a demonstration of board breaking by Bob Wall, "Boards don't hit back!"
 
When you move your 'Center' even slightly forward in a stance the weight on the front foot increases. Learning to 'punch from the ground up' actually means that you are twisting your entire body like a spring, pushing off with say your right foot, turning your hips, continuing until the right arm shoots out and your hand strikes through the target.

It sound complicated but is actually built on training that the novice is learning as he masters each step of basic exercises. Without knowing the basics there is no power in actual combat. The KWB learned from his instructors that Balance is the key and Shifting the center towards the target can make or break a technique. Many young fighters learn advanced techniques but when they actually have to HURT someone with their kick or punch they may discover that their technique is useless and does little damage.

Bruce Lee once wrote (It was in his "Way of Jeet Kune Do) "When I first started to train, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick...As I studied I learned the many kinds of punches and kicks. When I finally mastered the basics...a punch was a punch and a kick was just a kick".


Grand Master Sifu Doug Bunda used to tell him that "to execute any technique effectively, one must be able to unleash with full power, speed, and timing...uncoiling at the perfect moment". He trained us for the street and in-close situations not just for the tournament scene. Practical knowledge that helped the KWB to be aware and prepared to strike by 'knowing the moment that a man was about to strike', then hitting him first as he begins to move.


Balance must be constantly fluid as you must move and shift your position to defend or attack. When comparing to a position on any issue, such as Adoption, the KWB has tried to learn all the basics of these complex issues. He listened and read agruments from all sides of the issues. He did not limit himself to just one group but compared in details those who were writing on blogs, personal stories, professional studies, etc.


Since 2008 when he "thought he was out...they pulled him back in" This Thing of Ours-Adoption. The KWB found that the extremes on both sides had somethings wrong but also had some good and valid points. As he studied all the arguments he found that his position was shifting to a middle ground consensus that recognized the different positions and kept the good of each and discarded the bad. He remains willing to hear out anyone and fact-check their data. This is being "Balanced", being willing to shift on some issues but remain in the center on the whole.


Example: Abortion is a hot issue and certain can heat up both sides. Extreme views of a few Pro-Life (not all) are not acceptable to the KWB such as murdering a famous abortion doctor. Cannot break your moral code, one murder does not justify the Pro-Life position. Then some Pro-Choice folks are extremely hateful of all of 'them'. "It's her body and a woman should have the choice to have an abortion". Well, then we look at the birth father, what if he wants to have the child? Ah, doesn't he have some part of the decision?

Does a woman have the Choice to bear the child OR GIVE IT UP for Adoption? If she has the choice to terminate life, doesn't she also have the right to give it up? SO, the KWB believes abortion is wrong but believes that ultimately, after being given all the medical facts and options, if a Korean woman choices to have an Abortion then it must be. He also believes a woman should be able to Give it up for adoption.


He supports helping those women who want to Choose to Keep their baby, by pressing the Government to increase financial support, press the media to report on how more and more (up to 31.7% in 2005) are in fact keeping their babies. That is only 1 out of 3 though, so we have more work to do until the day that women's families, Korean Society, and government support bring the day that most Korean unwed mothers keep their babies.


Two out of Three Choose to relinquish or give up their rights of raising their child. Do they not have the Right to Choose? When some say the Unwed mother has a Human Right to keep their baby, what about the Right to also Give it up? The KWB thinks they must also have that choice.


 

















Left: George Whitefield    Right: John Wesley


Back in church history in England a great controversy arose that later split the churches between two opposing forces. George Whitefield/John Wesley were two leaders who were able to respect each other throughout the great debate. It is urban legend that Whitefield wrote something to the effect (not verified as literal but a modern summary) "God has shown me that I am right and you are wrong, but I still love you in the Lord." Wesley wrote back to him the same note. Both long letters were published at the time. Somehow they maintained respect but there were many who strongly opposed and even questioned the validity of the others groups faith and even doubted they would be in heaven. Things got really ugly, kind of like the Adoption Issues...


It is imperative that we all listen to each other with respect to the person, though we may disagree strongly with their views and opinions...Even though "God has shown the KWB that he is right...he still loves and respects those who are WRONG." LOL.

Okay? When he started to read the stories of some that had had horrible experiences and blamed being adopted as the cause...He understands where they are coming from. He only asks that we all maintain the respect for the other side without the bitterness and hate sometimes shown.


"Can't we all get along" because whether we agree or not we are all in this together. We are in a unique group yet each person's experience with adoption is different and how they have processed or sorted out their life is a vast array or spectrum. We need to listen to each other and keep the respect. Some of the KWB's posts are harsh and SHOUTING, but that is for a purpose to challenge response to debate and find consensus.


*(This was written and posted from igoogle's docs! A new trick the KWB is trying to figure out. One can do put up documents, polls, all kinds of things. Go to "igoogle")





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