Korean War Baby
What motivates me? If you check My Story on my blog at the top you would find out that I was one of the first of thousands of Korean Adoptees to find homes in a land that was not their own. I am now 58, or 59 by Korean accounting, one of the Old Guard, 'saved' from the devastation just after the Korean War. I was a Korean War baby and one of thousands of 'war babies' born of Foreign troops serving in Korea, born from liaisons with Korean women-children born out-of-wedlock, rape, or abandoned by the 'fathers' who returned to their countries. I was on the first plane from Holt Adoption Program, leaving on May 21, 1956. I lived most of my life only knowing about the war through books, MASH television series, studying TaeKwonDo, meeting Korean Marines and soldiers in Vietnam. My level of understanding my mother's people was about 2 on a scale of ten.
I first came back to my mother's land, in 1994 for a two week visit with a Korean pastor from the church I attended in , followed by 3 more two week ministry trips with my church from the USA. From the first meeting with Ami Nafzger after Nolin Stratton's introduction, I saw the need for the organization of GOA'L as the Founder presented it to us. At first it seemed like we would be some sort of loose Support Group which was a good idea. I was very surprised to see how quickly we grew, how many adoptees were actually in the country. By word of mouth, newspaper articles in the English dailies, the word got around and the meetings swelled.
When Korea experienced the crisis wrongly called IMF (who actually helped Korea recover and OPEN up to more foreign investment), I was here and almost left but I felt compelled to stay and help prepare Koreans for Globalization. By being here I had a chance with all my students to expose them to the realities of people of mixed-heritage or as they say, mixed-blood. Constant rejections done in subtle ways, never face to face, faced me all the time. Though upset and even angry, I knew that deep down it bothered my PAIN inside that I must deal with personally. I must face my own 'demons' before I could help Koreans with theirs.
When Korea approved the F4 Visa in 1999 I was one of the first to get one. For all overseas Koreans up to 25% ethnicity, a grandparent of Korean genes, it gave Korean Adoptees a better chance to come and learn about their homeland, stay for awhile if they wanted and make a living by first teaching English or even their European languages for our brethren from the EU. More and more began to come, some to search for their biological family, many to discover their roots and what being a Korean really meant. I went with some to meet their families for the first time, a very emotional time for all.
After getting married to a Korean woman, a public servant with a gun, in 2005 for the next 3 years I could not attend the conferences but dropped by the office and kept in touch. I felt that GOA'L was in great hands with the new leadership and that the fundamental functions and ideology of GOA'L were being carried on by those who were dedicated to helping Korean Adoptees from all walks of life and countries, maintaining an openness to all stories, attitudes, viewpoints in the complex issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. We who are of the Diaspora are from the entire spectrum, those who do not plan to return to Korea to those who have come back, searched and found family members with various results, some have changed their names to reflect their Korean identity. Adoptees attitude about their own adoption ranges from Happy to Sad, content to unsettled, peaceful to filled with rage. It is like Black to White and all the degrees of Grey in between.
Then two years ago, I met two students who were Domestic Korean adoptees. I discovered that there were thousands like us, thousands perhaps equal to the 170-200 thousand Overseas/InterCountry/TransRacial/Trans-Cultural adoptees. Both of the two students had been secretly adopted, and were Late Discovery Adoptees, who told me how they found out in a shocking way. The more I searched it surprised and then shocked me even making me angry. I checked about Korea and learned about the legend of Princess Bari, the seventh daughter of a Chosen King, who threw her away and abandoned her to death because she was just a girl, and he needed a son to inherit his Crown. Bari da actually means "to throw away" so it is called in english "The Abandoned Princess"but she became the Matriach of the Mudang, the woman priestesses of Shamanism.
I began to study more and more, every aspect of the issues of Abortion, birth mothers, domestic and ICA adoption, the psychological and mental effects of abandonment, difficulties of some in attachment disorders. I had so much information and no way to express it, then I took the plunge and began to blog in June of 2009, hardly knowing the simplist tasks at first, needing "blogging for Dummies" desparately. I found that site!
This is what "Pulled me back In" just when I thought that my involvement with GOA'L would just be limited. This is why I am so passionate about This Thing of Ours-Adoption. GOA'L provides a safe and neutral hub, a place where an adoptee can come for help in their journey of self identity, searching for their bio-family, working and living here, whatever their needs and wants are about. I believe strongly that we must remain open to all, let all voices be heard and NOT be bias in any way.
There are some who think that GOA'L should be against Adoption, Intercountry and Domestic, and therefore represent a group that DO believe that only supporting Unwed Mothers to keep their children is the answer. Regrettably this is not the case as my research and the facts show that only some of the thousands of Adoptees from Korea feel this way. GOA'L must not be tunnel visioned nor ignore the majority of adoptees who have not yet come to a place where they have formed an informed opinion on these matters.
Therefore, I throw my hat into the ring, declaring myself as a candidate for the position of Secretary General of Global Overseas Adoptee's Link website GOA'L . Please mark your calendar for the General Meeting on 27 March, Saturday, place and time to be announced. You must be physically challenged, oops, physically PRESENT in order to vote...Stone age rules from the Korean government it seems, they haven't caught up with Cyberspace/Internet/Online Voting yet. Sigh!
Don Gordon Bell