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

Plot? What Plot?

Harry and Bertha Holt

Bob Pierce meets Harry and Bertha Holt
In 1955, Bob Pierce of World Vision had been showing a film, “Other Sheep,” depicting the horrible conditions in Korea after the end of the war. Scenes showed children in an orphanage sing “Jesus Loves me”, street children and destitute people fighting over garbage from the camps of UN troops. Koreans love a dish, BuDaeChigae, a soup made in the post war years from leftovers from mess halls of the US and UN troops.

There were mixed-raced children, despised and rejected by the proud Korean people who like other Asians did not like mixing blood of tribes or regions, let alone Foreigners. Terrible images flashed of forlorn, emaciated children, starving for love as much as for lack of food. Watching the film, Harry and Bertha Holt of Creswell, Oregon, were cut to their hearts. Harry had been a successful lumberman in South America but had returned to farming after a recent heart attack. They were overcome with the tragedies of the conflict; neither of them could forget what they saw, and it haunted them.

Sponsorship leads to Adopting
Finally, they agreed to sponsor 8 children with World Vision, later decided to adopt them into their home. Harry’s return trip in late 1955 was covered by the media across the country as a great human interest story, ‘the Oregon farmer who brought back eight War orphans from the Forgotten War.

Soon they received calls from all over the States. My own adoptive mother heard on the radio and was one of the first to reach Bertha Holt inquiring how to adopt two children, a boy and a girl from Korea. So many calls came in that Harry decided to go back to Korea and begin his life’s work. (There were many objections to Cross-Cultural marriage and the idea of Cross-Cultural adoption back then, and it continues to be controversial from the adoptees’ point of view, which I will address later).

Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision, and Mrs. Han of Child Placement Service quasi-government agency handling Overseas Adoptions (later they became private owned SWS- Social Welfare Society) helped Harry Holt get set up until their first place was built. Harry Holt had just returned to establish Holt Adoption Services. That was when our birth mother brought us to the World Vision Reception Center in March, 1956.

A young Korean mother cautiously brought her four-year old son and one year old daughter through the streets of downtown Seoul. The young woman knew that because her children’s father had been a ‘foreign devil’, that they would always be cursed and rejected by her people. She dyed their light brown hair with black shoe polish to hide them better but their faces still looked strange and noticeable. (Korean people called her children “TuiGi/튀기 a slang word that meant-“evil spirit” or “child of the devil”. A nicer term is  HonHyolAh (혼혈아) but it still has racist meaning ’half-breed or mixed-blood’).

Several thousand ‘mixed-blooded children were scattered throughout Korea living on the streets near military bases. Some were by-products of desperate Korean women servicing foreign troops as ‘camp followers’, entertainers who sang, danced, or provided sexual gratification. It was the only way, the best way, to earn a living. The troops had cash, food, and PX privileges, in exchange for services and entertainment. Laundry women, houseboys, bar owners, shop owners, prostitutes, thieves stealing anything and everything from the bases, all supported extended networks of Korean society.
It has always been the same in times of war throughout history. The children born of these various liaisons were a rainbow of ethnicities representing the 22 United Nations Command troops. ‘War Babies’, ‘G.I. Babies’, they were the outcasts of Korean society, and ‘dust of the streets (“The Unforgotten War: Dust of the Streets” by Thomas Park Clement).

I, the Korean War Baby, was this boy, a half-breed bastard who was despised and it is still that way today in South Korea. I want to make this clear, every week that I have lived in the land of my mothers people, I face being considered a damn foreign devil. When Koreans learn I am HALF-KOREAN the reactions are surprise, unbelief, shock, and always a few students never return. TO HELL with THEM.

I don't weep and moan, "Oh, dear it's because I am a half-breed bastard, woe is me". BY GOD, I am a proud Marine, I love the United States of America more than Korea. I AM AMERICAN in my heart and soul. Yet, I am also of my mother's people, accepted by many, rejected by some. I LIVED when many half-blood children were killed on the streets by my mother's people.

How did I live? Because people like Harry and Bertha Holt, and their daughter Molly. I cannot tell you how almost impossible it was for me last Saturday to watch this Goddamn Gang of 33 gleefully smirking and nodding to each other, using European Abstention rules at the very first vote to Not re-elect Molly Holt. Secretary General Kim-Wenger then presided with a TIED vote to add the abstentions to the Nays. THIS was done by raising hands with six of seven 'guests' not members sitting among us, until they were asked to stand on the sidelines. The Gang of 33 constantly voted with 22 Abstentions, votes that under Robert's Rules of Order would be NOT COUNTED. Has GOA'L gone over to the European ONLY part of the GLOBAL?

At the very beginning I was informed that cheap pieces of paper would be used to tally the vote for Secretary General OH, AND A 4TH  mystery candidate was being put forth. I shall name her: Julie Jong Koch, on facebook, she has been so experienced in living here in Korea. For 3 years...what? Oh, excuse me...for 3 months. THREE MONTHS.

THIS WAS PART OF THE SHAME, UH, SHAM THAT WAS PERPETRATED ON ALL GOA'L MEMBERS past and present. The Gang of 33, voters whose agenda is the Politicization of GOA'L into Anti-Adoption (Both domestic and foreign mind you) put forth a twenty-something fresh off the plane as candidate for Secretary General.


Though several of us protested the procedures, we were laughed at and sniggers and talking continued through the interviews of Courtney, Julie Koch, and I. Julie was well coached, even using the "Neutrality of Goa'l" but had no clues on questions. KIM SU Rasmussen even asked her "don't you think Goa'l should become more political".

But by use of European Abstention rules no candidate, even Julie Jong Koch was to have  a majority of members present. You see by abstaining the election is frozen.

Thus, according to the former SG (Jan) Daewon Kim (Wenger), co-founder of "Dongari_Switzerland" Adoptee group in 1994 with Pastor Kim Do Hyun of KoRoot, it is now the VICE Secretary General Mee Joo  who now goes by K M J who will be "acting Interim Secretary General". Mee Joo hails from Hawaii and has been doing a great job as Vice SG, the KWB has complete faith in her abilities. BUT then, the new Board of Directors will decide who will run the NOW Anti-Adoption GOA'L

IS the Korean War Baby ALONE on the Wall? No, there are many who stand with him but our numbers are few. Many were just too busy, to come and raise their hands. TOO LATE.



"Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD."  (Eze 13:5)

TIME TO FIX BAYONETS (Allegorical ones)


Scottish Highlanders advance with Fixed Bayonets

Corporal Lew Millet leads his men in Korean War in bayonet charge. Won the Medal of Honor.

Face to Face-"The instant in time where the two lines come into contact with each other with fixed bayonets.  At this point, all parties have no doubt already fired their weapons, so their rifles and pistols are not loaded. It is the instant in time when men begin driving their bayonets into each other at close range.  Perhaps the most horrific and terrifying instant that could possibly ever exist in time."


Who will stand with the few adoptees living here who have the will and time to get involved? Where are you my fellow adoptees who don't despise your adoption?
AMI  will you stand for this robbery of your hard work in founding GOA'L?
What of you thousands of Adoptees who have visited GOA'L over the years? What say YOU?
Susan C. told me recently "Don, you are so intense and come on strong". I replied, "Susan, I am a damn 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."

Will I charge alone or will some of you join me?

Get out the word, "GET OFF YOUR ASSES! Marines" and pass it around to every Korean and other adoptee in any country. The Korean War Baby will keep up a constant sniper attack (No I don't mean a real rifle stupid) on the leaders of the Gang of 33 conspirators and challenge them to explain their motives or innocence.
To ALL who were adopted into loving homes, who do not despise our Adoptive families, the great majority of us who are in the middle seeking balance in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Though we had some things to deal with Identity issues many have found their Center and well just dealt with it. 
GIVE ME YOUR MESSAGES OF SUPPORT! Facebook will probably cut off the KWB, so send me your name and a short message. Take time out of playing your farm games to stand up for Fairness and Equality.

I will announce soon email addresses where you can send your comments directly. First order is to get out the word. Contact every Adoption group you know, every adoptee you know with KWB links. COME AND STAND, GET READY FOR ATTACK.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliantly written and moving article. I am wiping away the tears. You are not a bastard. I have been called a 'piece of shit from the gutter' because I am not GREEK. The NYT printed an article fifty years ago calling NY Foundlings "human burdens". I am NOT a human burdens. I am not comparing this to the enormity and gravity of your cause, but the same principle applies. I don't know about Korea, but I know that I will defend to the death ANYONE's right to freedom of speech. Please keep speaking. Your words do NOT fall on deaf ears and you help many, despite how futile it may all seem at times. Penelope