THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION
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 1, 2010
Vietnam Veteran Pete McKibben Reunites With Son Through Facebook
Vietnam Veteran Pete McKibben Reunites With Son Through Facebook
“(Oct. 17, 2009) -- Pete McKibben had to leave his girlfriend and unborn
son behind in Vietnam 36 years ago. He's been looking for them ever since.
The former U.S. Marine had lost hope and believed his sweetheart and child had been killed in the war-torn country, reported CNN. But, decades later, an email via Facebook changed his life.”
The Korean War Baby is overwhelmed by this news! For he also has a long lost son, he was also a US Marine who served during the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese mother (TaleOfTwoWomen) was mixed-blood with French, Cambodian, and Vietnamese and with the KWB mixed-blood of Korean, Spanish, Mexican, Apache he would be quite a MultiEthnic person! The mother told the KWB that his son would know his name. He prays that one day his son in France might also find him online after hearing of this story.
There is hope…something that many of us, who were adopted can relate to, to meet their birth family. It does not mean that all are even wanting to search, some like Frank Pittser did not think about searching until after his Adoptive Mother passed. She left him with clues that led to an AmazingReunionStory and reunion 50 years later! Wow, it can happen…but sadly for the huge majority of us, it may never happen.
For those who will never make connection with their birth family we must “deal with it” in any way we can. Yes, we have to Suck it Up, move on and endure life. The KWB had given up, after trying to get ‘on air’ for 14 years finally he got a chance. But there has been no response since, the Post-Search Blues are strong, yet he does not give up hope. Most important we must support each other, “Suck it up”- means to stop just whining and ENDURE, moving onward.
Going Beyond ‘Whining/Bitching’
Whining about something is not the same as ‘bitching’ by the way. Whining is pitiful and almost helpless…to Bitch about things is to strongly want or demand change. However, one must goes beyond just TALKING about things but DOING something. The KWB does not take issue with those who bring up wrongs, bad policies, complaints, etc in a manner that is to expose them. This is why he supports TRACK and ASK, but not 100% of their ideas or policies. He does not blame “Adoption” as an evil thing, rather just an option among many.
Some folks ‘whine and bitch’ about ‘being taken from their culture, language, family, country’ BUT we must go to the root of the issues. In the vast majority of cases the reasons of why a child was relinquished has nothing to do with “Korea being the 11th or 12th economic country”. This falls on deaf ears! Yes, in the past some could surmise that the reasons were because the Korean mother/family were poor, but that is NOT the main or only reason.
When you review the history of Korean Adoptions there were many reasons for relinquishment, such as “too many daughters”, divorce or abandoned by father ‘forces’ mother to give up children, or just plain simply the young woman cannot raise her child with NO support from her parents/birth father, lack of support from Government and social rejection.
Who can put the blame only on our mothers? Certainly not the KWB, who does not hold her guilty, rather the social “Traditions taught by Confucius” that allow only blood relatives to be adopted. The Neo-Confucian era also reduced women to second class status and Korean people still prefer sons though that is SLOWLY changing. We must work together to educate the Korean people, hoping that they change, and as US President Obama has discovered “Change comes only after a lot of hard work”.
Can we agree where we can agree, respect each other where we differ, but work together to sort it all out in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”. The Korean War Baby Hopes for Change to come.