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 23, 2010

Holt International – Blog » The Gift of a Miracle

The Korean War Baby presents THIS STORY as another reason for Korean people to reconsider the Abortion option. Yet, if this young girl was born alive and discovered to be “GASP…damaged with ear problems” well, only a Few Brave Koreans, REAL KOREANS, would even consider adopting her. She would have been one of the 97% of Special Needs children sent to Overseas families willing to take them. YES, only 3% of the yearly SN children are adopted by local Korean families because, well, it would be embarrassing for them. We have a LONG way to go yet... 
Holt International – Blog » The Gift of a Miracle
HOW DARE SOME OF YOU, claim some NONSENSE that ALL InterCountry Adoptions should STOP. What is your answer for the Special Needs children? Will you stop them from finding a family? What of the Half-breeds like the Korean War Baby? Should we all have been “terminated with extreme prejudice?” What say you to that? EH?
I am certain that MOST of you would NOT think that, except for some lamebrain idiots (if the shoe fits…), most of you are educated and MUST be aware of the circumstances of the Societies of “Sending countries”, such as Korea and Haiti…Some reports have it that adults in Haiti have escaped to the USA and left their children as SINGLE orphans, abandoned and Unwanted by their family/society.
Some of the children lost their parents in previous
disasters, including four tropical storms or hurricanes that killed about 800 people in 2008, deadly storms in 2005 and 2004, and massive floods almost every other year since 2000. Others were abandoned amid the Caribbean nation's long-running political strife, which has led thousands to seek asylum in the U.S. - without their children - or by parents who were simply too poor to care for them.” Seatle Times Article
There are no simple answers but ABSOLUTE and ALL INCLUSIVE statements are foolishness. This is just one of the comments that a few posted on a social network, against others with no consideration or thought. The case was certainly a very extreme case of a woman who has given many of her children away for adoption. Certainly she needs some counsel but the hate of some few against both the “surrogate woman” and the families who adopted is par for the course with a few extremists:
i wrote to the adopter. i think they're both ASSHATS. Any woman who gave a child up for adoption who doesn't walk around with a massive guilt load has no heart or soul.”  1st poster
“…these women are BOTH heartless. they are BOTH child abusers and they BOTH deserve to be locked the phuck up. i HATE evil, greedy, baby hungry mother phuckers like this.” 2nd poster
This conversation went on and on, such hate and preconceived judgment against ALL women who give up and people who are willing to “Take by Choice” an unwanted child. The KWB tried to be civil in his response…WHERE ARE THEIR MINDS?
NOT everyone feels this way, there are extremes on “almost every camp”. Can’t we all get along? BUT what a story of a miracle, you may not believe it but the ways of God are difficult to fathom. The KWB has seen some of these things with his own eyes, yet also seen the Perfect Healing-death and on to the eternal life beyond this world. May he be found worthy on the day of his own passing. May you also know ‘peace that passes understanding’ in whatever faith you believe in.

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