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 6, 2010

White privilege - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In response to the excellent and insightful ponderings of a respected fellow blogger  Girl 4708-Kyopo blog

January 25, 2010
“In a discussion about the white privilege of international adopters with another adoptee who can pass as white, I was asked if  this applied to adopting Korean-Americans.
I would say resoundingly yes.  Those Korean-Americans and adoptees adopting are adopting out of white privilege.  Why am I in so much trouble here in Korea?  Because of my white privilege, because I didn’t know enough about what it means to be Korean.  I am a banana here.  (yellow on the outside, white on the inside)  Once upon a time, I was a rotten apple.  But today I am a banana, thanks to being raised white.”
The KWB wonders if ‘white privilege’ applies in the situation of Full-blooded Korean Adoptees. White privilege-Wikipedia
It is the Outward appearance of ‘looking Asian’ of the Yellow Race but having a Western or White Caucasian Mindset that makes a Banana. Thinking White doth not make one Appear White.
White Privilege indeed does NOT to apply in Hapa/ Mixed-blood/ OR with Mixed-Racial adoptees. Perhaps with those who like the KWB are mistaken to be white, such as some ‘gens de coleur’ or people of color that James Michener writes about in “Caribbean”.
This article
Caribbean neither white nor black.Their racially mixed brothers and sisters appeared on all Caribbean islands and always faced the same impediments, promises, In describing the racial mix of Haiti in the late 1700s, Author James  Michener writes the following narrative in his classic magnum opus on the West Indies, the novel `Caribbean´:
caught in the middle between the two extremely grinding stones of white plantation owner and black slave writhed a considerable mass of citizens who werehopes, and crushing disadvantages.!Caribbean_MAPIn those other colonies they might be called mulattoes, coloureds, half breeds, half-castes, creoles, or bastards, but in St. Domingue all thosePersonOfColor terms were avoided, especially mulatto, which was deemed to have a pejorative ring. Here they were called gens de couleur, or in English, people of colour, or simply free coloureds


Despised by whites, who saw them as parvenus, striving to climb up to a level which they were not entitled, and hated by blacks who saw them  as constituting a middle layer which would racial-classiicationsforever prevent the slaves from attaining power, the free coloured were spurned from above and below.”



The KWB agrees also with the author’s point about “save a child”-No one should adopt for that reason. But it is NOT that it is a ‘privilege’ or related to the whiteness on the Outside, rather it is the Inside of the “Banana” the Cultural Mindset of the individual. White Privilege comes ONLY to those who are Outwardly White looking.
This is “Passing for White” is evident in the KWB own experience in  teaching at many different venues in Korea over the past 14 years. Sometimes he was 457px-The_Barbadoes_Mulatto_Girlinstructed to NOT mentioned that he was a HonHyulAh, a person of part-Koreanness. Why? He would ask. “Oh, it is because the students will reject you. After you have taught them for several times then you can tell them. Sorry, many Koreans feel White people are better.” Girl 4708 was introduced to this as well when meeting the KWB’s boss, who explained in a very delicate manner the realities of “teaching English in a White preferred” Korean environment.

The Barbadoes Mulatto Girl, an engraving published at London in 1779, after a c. 1764 painting by Agostino Brunias
TIK-This is Korea and the Korean War Baby has experienced this many many times. At a certain Cultural Center that he has taught at for 29 sessions, each one of 12 weeks duration, he tells the class after three weeks about being…drum roll please…some of them only, ‘their worst nightmare’. LOL, hey, he just had to SUCK IT UP, put it out of his mind and laugh it off, as TIK.SplitPersonality2Korean student’s worst nightmare “WHAT!! You Ain’t WHITE? A HonHyulah?!”
Every time, several women would never come back, but the last laugh was with the KWB- for the ajummas could not get back their payment for the class!!! Yes, he should feel bad…but the KWB just laughs. (He probably is committing a sin but hope God will forgive him a few more and just add them to his very long list).
SplitPersonality
*Note: the KWB uses colorful fonts to HIGHLIGHT certain terms, in a tongue in cheek manner, not for proper design or purpose. Remember all his words meaningless words are in BROWN.

2 comments:

  1. The song "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught" (from the musical "South Pacific," based on James A. Michener’s 1946 “Tales of the South Pacific”) announces that a white person’s fear of persons of color is learned from other whites. Rogers and Hammerstein were charged to change the lyrics but, thankfully, refused to divorce that poignant point from reality.

    You've Got to Be Carefully Taught

    from South Pacific, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein

    You've got to be taught, to hate and fear,
    You've got to be taught, from year to year,
    It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made
    And people whose skin is a different shade.
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught, before it's too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight
    To hate all the people your relatives hate
    You've got to be carefully taught,
    You've got to be carefully taught

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtoZJdUytvc

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  2. Lewis,
    Thank you for the poem. It certainly rings true that prejudice is learned. Some recent articles show that when Korean adoptees were younger some of them thought of themselves as "white" and then went through realization that they were NOT. For all of us, even the KWB as a HonHyulAh or half-breed, we grew up and began the journey of self-discovery of our ethnic identity.
    In High School the KWB dated a half-Japanese/half White American girl whose father discovered that he was half-Korean. Korean troops were the prison guards in the Philippines, and he had seen many die from the hands of Korean soldiers. They had to break up, though both the KWB and the half-Japanese girl had not learned that Koreans and Japanese were supposed to HATE each other.

    ReplyDelete

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