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.

March 30, 2010

'Oderint dum metuant' :: 'Let them hate me, provided that they fear me' ::

AGM_Pg 7
The Korean War Baby has declared WAR against the
Shameful Sham Election and those who have robbed
the Members of GOA'L of their right to vote.
Beware Gang of 33, I am coming after you!!!

This is page 7 of the Annual General Meeting info that was sent out to all members (Only here in Korea, you others don’t count).
Point 5. Deadlines
“Members may still nominate candidates for the Board of Directors, Community Board and Secretary General….at the Annual General Meeting
What the #&@? Why speak of deadlines? This is how “Julie Jong Koch” could be “nominated as a candidate” with NO APPLICATION OR QUESTIONNAIRE…when she probably just signed up as a member? Ms. Julie actually mentioned that she has been in Korea for three years,  NO, MONTHS. Such vast experience she brought to the table, I bet she actually eats Kimchee and is still learning to use chopsticks!!!

The canard continues unabated,  “All BOD, Community Board, and Secretary General applications and proposals …..should be submitted by 12th March 2010.”
OH, I see “Should be” must NOT mean in Europe “MUST BE.”

TERRY AND SETH ARE YOU GETTING THIS? You wasted all your time preparing, why you could have just been nominated by a friend at the AGM. Can you say
 “I applied as Secretary General and all I got was a stick-on Logo!”
COURTNEY Hope you enjoyed your visit, sorry for the waste of time.

HEY, YOU PEOPLE WHO WERE ADOPTED BY HOLT. GIVE ME YOUR VOICES!! Would you have liked growing up in an institution? Then kicked out on your own at 19? Forget college or university, you would have been an outcast of society.
How many of you know Half-Breeds, Hapa, MULTIRacial types like the KWB? Where are those who know you were ABANDONED, did you get your parent’s release forms? No, Gee you should have rotted in an institution, so sorry you lost your language and Korean culture.
Oh, you had what? A defect, Downs, crippled, well we just can’t have you HERE in the Most HOMOGENEOUSLY and PERFECT country, no wonder you were sent away.”

Doesn’t that sound MAD? Yet, dear ones, it is the sad, inconvenient truth. Almost 70,000 of us were sent away because the Korean SOCIETY did not want us.
Our mothers, most of them did have hope that we would be raised by a loving family. Many mothers did worry and suffered silently until this day. But to come out and tell your family, “guess who is coming to dinner”.

Well, we could ask MAJA, member of the Gang of 33, from “somewhere in Europe” about her reunion with her birth family.How’s that going, Maja?” Last year she shared some very deep painful words. Seems some birth family members don’t exactly want to “bring things out in the open, but could you teach your younger relatives English…for free?” Maja shared her heart to us at the “Boarding Bridges” the 1st Art Festival of International Korean Adoptees, and is currently writing her story for a book.
Hopefully in  English version as well as Korean. We must continue to educate the Korean people about our cases. Her circumstances of separation were not clear, but the power of her prose was cutting, straight to the heart. Maja? Do you blame Adoption Agencies for Stealing you? What were the circumstances of your relinquishment? 

Every story is not the same, similar to some or many but unique and special in each case  individual. We will be watching for her book.
Secrecy because of shame and embarrassment is a common factor over here. The Korean War Baby’s own Korean wife did not tell relatives he was adopted, or worse a half-breed Bastard either. Just last year, it was found out that they had no idea. Then his wife learned that a cousin-in-law was adopted by an Uncle and treated like a servant or slave. It was her turn to be shocked and awed discovering for the first time her relative, the American was an Adoptee with the blood.

Adoptees speak out:

Jon Huston
I'm with you brother. I understand what my birth mom had to do and I'm so glad she did. I wanted to find her to tell her she did the right thing.
Today at 9:56am · March 29, 2010

Nolin Han Stratton 한석준 Don: "I am a...US Marine; we only Know Intense and Strong. You don't defeat your enemies by being kind. Marines don't sit in trenches, we charge the beach or assault the fort. WE ATTACK!"

Don, we may not always agree on everything, however I admire your undaunting determination to see justice served, so that the helpless are protected. If ever I went into battle, I want you watching my back! God bless you, brother.

Yesterday at 11:48am · March 28, 2010
Michael In-Mn
Every child deserves a home !
Yesterday at 12:28pm ·
Helena 난 이 Lee
Don, if you speak of neutrality- then I want to say equitably that this group that you call 'Gang of 33' is not a crazy radical heartless gang. You know the people and I know the people, they were your friends and they are my friends and we have sat and talked about these issues. They are very intelligent,educated,well informed and committed group of...adoptees with a strong ideology against ICA and concerned about the treatment of unwed mothers and their children in Korea in the 21st century.

I remember workshops and sessions when many international adoptees questioned, grilled them for wanting to stop all ICA, and running out of the room because they disagreed with this group for their black and white views.
They had the burden of proof to convince the rest of the audience and they were not successful. But at the end of the day,ppl could see for themselves that they don't have all the answers and oh yes,people got emotional,frustrated and angry, but that is politics and life- you know it gets ugly inside the KEEP your friends, rise above it all and remember WWJD!!
Today at 12:54am ·
KWB to Helena: Yes, some of them remain my friends, you know that I tried to befriend all adoptees and listen to their stories, I joined ASK and TRACK to understand their beliefs and help understand them. I read their books of Jane Jeong Trenka, and wept at some of the things they endured. I began to support FAMILY PRESERVATION (as does Holt, SWS, Eastern, and KSS) and promoting Domestic adoption, but I do not believe a child should NOT be told that they were adopted.

In Civil and domestic adoptions there are 97% that are NOW listed as Natural born children SO THE ADOPTION IS SECRET. Even MPAK Mission to Promote Adoptions by Koreans though they encourage domestic and Intercountry adoption into Korean Families living as expats, cannot make Adoptive Families be open and TELL the Child, or Adult that YOU ARE ADOPTED. Would you like that? Again, watch for Jeff's story soon, of a Late Discovery Adoptee speaks up.
But the problems are NOT just because of their Adoption, NO, it was compounded from the loss from mother and family, and they had other trouble in life because we were given up.
Those who think that 'FOR EVERY FAMILY CREATED BY ADOPTION, ANOTHER ONE IS TORN APART" are not completely correct. Not even close, show me the numbers. It is not EVERY rather some, more like a few.
 They declared me an enemy along with Molly Holt. They do not want GOA'L to be Neutral. What do they WANT?
Lisa Reed Guarnero
No democracy with GOA'L. They know most of us are NOT in Korea! Geez!! Feels/sounds like backdoor agendas or something.

the Gang of 33...

1 comment:

  1. Well Bro, Obviously the "Elections" did not go well. Sounds like Philippine Politics! I sincerely hope things work out for you. Try not to pay too much attention to the Europeans. They are just so full of themselves and can't see the forest for the trees!