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.


March 29, 2010

Founding Member Speaks Out


"The world knows that thousands and thousands of unwanted Korean children, often hated by the general public, were saved from starvation, cruel deaths, or hopeless futures of unbearable discrimination and empty opportunity...because of a gift called adoption. Some babies and children were dearly wanted by their mothers,... yet still sent abroad, in desperate quest for opportunity, freedom, and a purposeful life. To ignore or discount the record is both misguided and foolish. But then, some persons deny the holocaust.

For every child saved through adoption, over ten died of starvation or illness or froze to death...or simply were eliminated as despicable by passersby. But the real trajedy is that they died alone, cast aside like the garbage they dug through and fought for as food (there even is a word in Korean for “garbage soup”), utterly alone and forsaken with no one to care.

Nolin Han Stratton-Founding member of GOA’L 

*****************************

 




Don: I will reiterate my statements of the past: I am a bi-racial international adoptee from Korea...who sees things positive or negative. In regards to adoptions from Korea. I consider myself one of the most fortunate adoptees and I know for a fact, had I not been adopted, I would not be alive to tell my story.  I have just celebrated 47 years being in the states. Issues of adoption whether domestic or international are very complex and there are blessings and there are challenges and I would never want to take away from anyone else's adoption experience.

I also do believe that there are just plain cultural factors with Korea. I believe I have given Korea a "pass card" for many decades and excused the country, the culture, the government for their inability to be open and truly accepting of the idea of domestic adoptions within Korea and thus children are placed to families internationally.

Special needs children, bi-racial children, babies who are born of unwed teen mothers....Korea has always had such a hard time dealing with these issues: Korea is now embarrassed by all these children going to other countries but there is not any options within the country so they slow down the process for waiting children??

The bottom line for me has ALWAYS been this: What is the better alternative to adoption whether domestic or international...foster care? institutions..homeless on the streets?.so much criticism on the adoption experience...but honest to God...what is the alternative...to have these homeless and special needs kids be institutionalized forever and then thrown out on the streets when they age out....or end up working in the orphanage or getting mistreated or abused by staff because they are seen the lowest of the societal totem pole and they do not have a voice.

What is the better alternative...for all the negativity and anger and feelings of rage....what was the better alternative...In the US...there are stats that clearly show the least successful of all groups of children growing up are the ones on foster care who get shuttled around from placement to placement to placement. 
 
Amazing that in the many decades I have heard the anti adoption rhetoric I have not heard any alternative or viable solutions from the opposition to help address this issue of homeless children.

Nancy A.
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Just some of the responses from Adoptees with various stories and experiences across the board. How about YOU, were you adopted? Do you think all adoption should STOP? Send me your stories, Good or Bad, across the board of the Spectrum of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.
Facebook days are probably numbered but KWB will continue to demand answers.

Ask various GOA'L staff "What is going ON?" 
************************************
Office & Support Staff

Secretary General
Mr. Dae-won Kim (adoptee, Switzerland)
Email:
sg@goal.or.kr [Languages: German, English, French, Korean]

Formerly known as Jan Wenger, Daewon Wenger


Vice Secretary General/ Interim Secretary General??
Ms. Katie Mee Joo Putes (adoptee, USA)
Email:
vsg@goal.or.kr 

Office AdministratorMs. Ji-young Lee
Email:
office@goal.or.kr [Languages: Korean, English]

Birth Family Search Department 
Ms. Gi-Young Hwang
Email: bfs@goal.or.kr [Languages: Korean, English, Dutch]


Mr. Sebastien Vanderlinden (adoptee, Belgium)
Email: 
bfs.eu@goal.or.kr  [Languages: English, French, Spanish]

 
Volunteer & Communication (Translation) Services DepartmentMs. Lydia Kim, Volunteer Coordinator
Email:
volunteer@goal.or.kr [Languages: Korean, English]

 
Sponsorship & Fundraising Department
Ms. Hangsoon Lee, Directordonation@goal.or.kr
 [Languages: Korean, English]

One GOA'L member asks:
Dear Don,

As a paying GOAL-member I did want to vote as well. For just that reason I had some extra questions to a future (maybe)SG, to Seth Hammontree. He was my favorite and we (several members from Netherlands) wanted to vote for him.

My question to you is if there were any questions asked to Seth at that meeting? (goal promised me to do so). Seth was denied a chance, seems it was just TOO complicated to set up a Skype connection, though computers were in the KOREAN BANKING INSTITUTE, I suppose it is just too technical. Go ask the Vice-SG Katie MeeJoo Kim Puties:

Vice Secretary General
Ms. Katie Mee Joo Putes (adoptee, USA)
Email:
vsg@goal.or.kr  
Putes Katie Mee Joo is confused with her role and title, doesn't know if she is the Interim Secretary General or still the Vice-SG. I asked her, ARE YOU in charge or NOT? You are supposed to be the Interim SG, until someone is appointed by the Board of Directors. She wants to meet me face to face, but I will not go to the office again. Never until this is explained to the Members.

I am Mad as Hell, and I am not going to take it anymore!
March 31, 10:00 AM

However, though I do disagree with some content of yours, I do strongly believe in a democratic way of leading a Foundation likewise GOAL. 

Gang of 33 voted to NEVER allow email, scanned documents of votes, or proxy votes in future General Meetings. WHAT? GO ask them. Former SG Jan Daewon Kim Wenger could 'only' say that it was passed. This is what happens when ONLY present members are allowed to vote. Global Overseas Adoptee's Link should change to : Only Adoptees in Korea adoptee's Link  OAKAL
YOU'VE BEEN BAMBOOZLED, TRICKED, ROBBED, OF YOUR RIGHTS, and it has nothing to do with ME, the Korean War Baby. It was my intention to withdraw ONLY after I knew that several good candidates were running. I was asked several time, are you withdrawing, you could just run as a Candidate for the BoD, or the Community Board (which is full of the Gang of 33 now. WHY was I asked to withdraw from the SG? Do you think I could have won ANY POSITION with the voters allowed to bring others to join as GOA'L members ON THE DAY OF ELECTION? 
NOT POSSIBLE: No, they know that I stand for Neutrality, and you watch, WHO WILL THEY APPOINT AS SECRETARY GENERAL?

The BoD cannot meet until Local elections are finished. With Molly Holt NOT re-elected the board has an imbalanced majority of FOUR, Pastor Kim DoHyun and Jan Daewon Kim Wenger plus two other Liberal Democrats. Gee, I will bet the SG will be a member of the Gang of 33. Mark my words. THEY want to Politicize GOA'L, please ask them for what?

For that; suddenly pushing forward a -new- prospect SG is basically saying to all the paying members: "I don't care a fuck about you!"

As well I did ask Daewon Wenger specifically to bring in the question of -voting new style-. I can proof that with email-trackrecord-! I said; GOAL should make it possible to vote even if you are not in Korea at all. Most of the adoptees do live abroad.

I wanted to vote but got a mail back from Vice-SG that was NOT possible. HuuHHH??????"

The Korean War Baby will not just go away quietly, Old Adoptees never die, they just fade away....WELL, I am Mad as Hell and I am NOT going to take it anymore!


 

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