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 13, 2010

Orphan Definition

'Orphan' Definition

It is always mentioned by some folks, that "so called orphans" Do HAVE relatives, even one or both biological parents. There is an implied meaning that someone is Lying about the "so called orphan". Well, since the Korean War Baby is not a scholar or even Master degree holder, he must rely on the googling of information on the internet. He discovered first these interesting definitions from the Languages of origins that came to be known in English as "Orphan".
That's Greek to Him!
o̓ρφανός (Greek)
or-fan-os' (Latin)

"Of uncertain affinity; bereaved (“orphan”), that is, parentless: - comfortless, fatherless.

Examples in New Testament:

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Many verses in the New Testament speak of the "Adoption" as children of God (later post). What? Can the term "fatherless" mean maybe "having a mother but no father" as in a Bastard?

Then in the Hebrew Language (Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary)

יםתו  #H3490
From an unused root meaning to be lonely; a bereaved person: - fatherless (child), orphan.

Deu 24:17  "Do not deprive foreigners and orphansH3490 of their rights; and do not take a widow's garment as security for a loan."

Jer 49:11  Leave your
orphans; I will keep them alive; and let your widows trust in Me.

Lam 5:3  We are orphansH3490 and fatherless,H369 our mothersH517 are as widows.H490

The Hebrew scriptures were written approximately 1200 BCE until 200 BCE (Before the coming or birth of Jesus Christ). The New Testament was written in the 1st Century.


What is important is the FACT that the various Hague Conventions HCCH/Full Text_PDF  DO acknowledge that the term ORPHAN may mean a child with out ONE of it's Biological parents. UNICEF well, well, well, my word! They define an orphan as:

"UNICEF and global partners define an orphan as a child who has lost one
or both
. By this definition there were over 132 million orphans

in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005.
This large figure represents not only children who have lost both
parents, but also those who have lost a father but have a surviving
mother or have lost their mother but have a surviving father.

Of the more than 132 million children classified as orphans, only 13
million have lost both parents
. Evidence clearly shows that the vast
majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent grandparent, or
other family member.  95 per cent of all orphans are over the age of

This definition contrasts with concepts of orphan in many industrialized countries, where a child must have lost both parents to qualify as an orphan. UNICEF and numerous international organizations adopted the broader definition of orphan in the mid-1990s as the AIDS pandemic began leading to the death of millions of parents worldwide, leaving an ever increasing number of children growing up without one or more parents. So the terminology of a ‘single orphan’ – the loss of one parent – and a ‘double orphan’ – the loss of both parents – was born to
convey this growing crisis


"fatherless (child), orphan" יםתו
parentless: - comfortless, fatherless. o̓ρφανός (Greek) 
or-fan-os' (Latin)

Now Look at this:

Hague Convention Adoption and Eligibility
On April 1, 2008, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption went into force within the United States. As a result, new regulations passed by Congress in the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) of 2000 will alter certain adoption procedures for adopting children from Hague Convention countries. The process for adopting orphans and non-orphans from Non-Hague countries remains the same.

The USCIS has introduced two new forms, I-800A “Application for
Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention
Country,” and Form I-800 “Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative,”
which can be used for any qualified adoption cases involving children who reside in any country that has ratified the Hague Adoption Convention. Similar to an orphan adoption, if both the child and the parent qualify for a Hague Convention adoption, the two year residency and custody requirements do not apply.  But essentially, the Hague Adoption Convention only applies to “orphan” adoption, with a very limited expansion on the definition of orphan.

Later on we see "Who qualifies as a Convention Adoptee?"

  1. Who qualifies as a Convention adoptee?

Under the IAA, a child is considered a convention adoptee if his birth parents, parent in the case of a child with only one sole of surviving parent, or other person or institution with legal custody of the child, gives their written consent to end their legal relationship with the child and allow the child’s emigration and adoption. A child may also be considered a convention adoptee if his birth parents are incapable of providing proper care for the child and have placed that child for adoption.

This definition is different than that of an “orphan” under
U.S. immigration law Adoption-FAQ. The definition of an orphan used for US immigration law that applies to non-Hague Convention Adoption is  
*1.The child does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents.
The child’s sole or surviving parent is not able to take proper care of the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and


Now we see that even UNICEF, Hague Conventions, US Immigration, and don't forget the Global Partners (NGO's) DO CONSIDER A CHILD WITH ONLY 1, BIOLOGICAL PARENT, RELATIVE OR LEGAL GUARDIAN as an ORPHAN.

Lamentations 5:3  We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow..Korean War baby! Powerful message! I personally never liked the negitive associations that come with the words orphan and adoptee..and from young age I tried to embrace the meaning and words..especially when I learnedthe english language and heard and felt the impact these few words have on us and of others. Thank you!