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 7, 2010

YouTube - stephxhoney's Channel

 The Korean War Baby was given this link from his friend Frank Pittser His Reunion story, and HE was truly pleased to see a young, bright, StephanieDrenka_AsianPosesKorean Adoptee, who is documenting her own journey of self-discovery of ‘Who am I’. Her insights and understanding are quite profound and indicative of her generation of adoptees who are reaching adulthood and sorting out just who they are, both inside and out, physical and mental. In her videos on on her blog are fresh, simple and very REAL.  Stephanie was a communications major in Depaul University, with minors in Asian-American studies and Women's Studies. Stephanie recently went back to Korea in July 2008, visited her adoption agency, met her Foster Mother, and began the first steps on Searching for Birth family.
YouTube - stephxhoney's Channel
Her first Video before going back to Korea. StephanieDrenka_AsianPoses02She is just starting to think  about her Koreanness, facing the fear of her own Adoptive family who are worried about her wanting to go back to her birth family. These are common concerns and issues that must/should be discussed with our Adoptive Family.




Yet, the inner need to KNOW about our past is so strong, once we who were adopted, step into the emotional minefield of Searching. For some we suppressed feelings because we did not want to upset our Adoptive Family. Have some tissues ready…In This Thing of Ours-Adoption we touch areas that have been dormant for many years.
This is one of her first videos of July 11, 2008: Trip to Korea.
The Korean War Baby has contacted Stephanie to ask for a special Guest Post on his humble blog. (He might ask for some pointers on making  videos, since he just recently figured out how to backlink, hyperlink, and NOW EMBED Video!! Old guy adoptees CAN learn somethings.)
Recent November 11, 2009: Stupid Adoption Questions!!!
Go check out her vids, blog, oh and ask her to be a Facebook friend. One hates to put labels on people but the KWB thinks this is a well balanced Korean Adoptee who will help many others on their own Journey of Self-Discovery. You Go, Korean-American girl!!! The KWB salutes you.
salute2 
U.S. Marine Corps (pronounced “Core” not corpse Mr. President!)

2 comments:

  1. Hi Don! First, I was reading your most recent post..what a life you have had..I am happy to have met you and learn from you! I met Stephanie as well when I first started blogging about my experiences with being an adoptee..she too has inspired me to continue writing and sharing experiences..she is pretty cool girl;) If it was not for everyone in this community, I don't know if I would have reunited with my korean family in korea and have met my brother in the netherlands as well as have the courage to seek what I love..photography. Take care Don!

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  2. Thank You KyungMee for sharing your story. I understand that you have a Marine in your life supporting you;). Both you and Stephanie have Walked Point for us in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. The KWB salutes you and all others who have gone before us and shared their journey.

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