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 25, 2010

Drums of Shame

Today the KWB attended the Korean Women's Development Institute's Policy Forum, concerning the issues of Unwed Mothers. Dr. Boas and his wife were in attendance, (not sure but perhaps with their Korean daughter by adoption). Of course some of the members of Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN) were also there with their children.

More on the substance of the Forum on next post. It is late in the morning now, but during the forum, as he was looking around at the audience he was struck with how FEW MEN were attending. Less than 10 in the audience and only one Male panel member. The number of Korean women were possibly 85-100 including a dozen Adoptees.
Some Mothers with small infants in backpacks walking around, a couple of older children, very well behaved by the way.

Suddenly a fact came to him, "Fifty percent of Korean women of childbearing age have had at least ONE or More Abortions".
Now stats
can be misleading but the KWB has read this from different sources and personally met dozen of Korean women who admitted that they had even been advised by Pastors and Priests to have abortions. Could be "Every other One" in this room..."WOW, Fifty percent, what deep pain, a collective agony of so many wounded in their hearts and minds."

Then another Stat hit him, possibly "350,000 to 400,000" mothers Plus an equal number of fathers who for the most part ran the other direction, have given up their babies and children for adoption. That's a big city, a city without joy...

On the subway heading home to Ansan City, a 90 minute ride, another Inconvenient Truth popped into his mind, the Daily number of Abortions according to the government is 1,000 but the Korean Foster Care Association figures 3,000 and Pro-Life Doctors say 4,000 based on medications they know are issued. "What are the Real numbers?" He was thinking.

"A Vision of Barrels of Terror"

We were crossing the Han River, when the KWB saw in his 'minds eye' many "55 Galleon" Drums, each one FULL of different stages of Unwanted and Unexpected pregnancies that had been terminated/Aborted. The lid was being put on one filled to the brim with flesh and blood. The number of drums seemed to fill a soccer field, then the number "1,000" was heard, called out by an unseen voice. Then "2,000" was doubled the drums now stacked two high. Now, "3,000" tripled the stacks, until finally "4,000" was called out. Each time the stacks of drums reached another level.

Then the drums were being loaded into trucks, delivered to different locations. Some to Korean scientists to "Harvest" the blood, broken, torn bodies, some for Beauty products, others to labs for Stem Cell Research. It was a just a daily delivery and it all flashed through my mind in moments, but in agonizing slow motion."

"What was that?!" The whole thing happened before crossing the river to Tonjak Station leaving him speechless and numb, fighting to hold back emotions that threatened to ruin his tough guy image. "It was like a movie, a horror movie." 


  1. Hi Don! First, thanks for your wonderful comment..and I will do that! I just read your posts and I have a sicken feeling..seeing the cans makes it all too real of how we live. I know its complicated subject and one that I don't know if it will get better...I am hopeful though with people bringing forth the truth of things like yourself and others who read, take part, and learn from this search. Great documentary..chilling story if I can call it that.

  2. Would love for you to make a summary from your blog, and of the latest updates.

    I think of the women who have been forced by life's circumstances to take such steps, often with no support. They are also victims, some have told me of their nightmares and feelings when they see children. I will always remember one woman not even 40 who had 5 abortions before having a son. This was back in 1996 and one of the reasons my American wife wanted to leave.

    For a peek at "Reunion with Bio-family members in process" go to KyungMee's blog and follow her amazing story. It will give you a vicarious thrill (hope that is the right word) and insightful look at just some of the emotions that happen with SOME reunions. There are also stories of rejection and embarrassment, but this ONE is looking good.
    (KyungMee must be smart-her husband is also a fellow US Marine!! ARRUHRAH!