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 5, 2010

Unmarried mothers coming out of isolation-The Korea Herald

From Facebook Friend Marc Champod came this link:

Unmarried Mothers Coming Out of Isolation-Korea Herald

Marc is one of the active members of Korean Adoptee’s groups that help to showcase and garner support for the Unwed Mothers who bravely are RAISING THEIR CHILDREN. Marc is a professional photographer who has covered many events for GOA'L, Adoptees Solidarity Korea, and Truth and Justice for Adoptees Commission in Korea.

UnWedMothers

Chang Ji-young once dreamed of becoming an unmarried mom voluntarily in protest against the unfair prejudice towards them here. However, two years ago, when the 34-year-old former business consultant became pregnant by her former boyfriend, she first considered getting married to him.

"Facing the reality was totally different from vaguely assuming it," said Chang, who is currently raising her daughter alone after her boyfriend didn't keep the marriage promise. Her parents and brother tried to persuade her to get an abortion or to give up the baby for adoption. But she resisted and her family turned their backs on her and the child.

The KWB has met Ji-Young several times, most recently when she spoke at the “60th Women’s Policy Forum” presented by the Korean Women’s Development Institute’s last forum on FEB. 24th of 2010, just days ago. Sponsored by the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN) and attended by Dr. Richard S. Boas, MD and President. NYTimes-Effort to Defend Unwed Mothers and also notes the work that Jane Jeong Trenka, and the members of both ASK and TRACK have openly done to support them.

The KWB totally supports these efforts for these reasons. Korean women who have chosen NOT to Abort their babies MUST be given support because they

According to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, about 6,000 to 10,000 babies are born out of wedlock every year in Korea. In the year 2007 there were 7,774 babies born to Unwed Mothers. Unwed mothers are struggling against Family, Society, and lack of Government support to keep their children and raise them. Yet, thousands are given up for Domestic, Civil, and ICA adoption.

PLEASE NOTE: ICA ONLY ACCOUNTED FOR 1,268 IN THE YEAR 2007, FIGURES FROM THE MAY 2009 report from the

Executive Summary

Reviewing Issues on Unwed Mothers' Welfare in Korea

Sources : Ⓑ Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family 2008. Total Number of Adopted Children

Sorry, got to shout here, Every baby Given up by it’s Korean Mother must be available ONLY for Korean Domestic adoption for FIVE (5) months BEFORE being considered for ICA!!! The Figures are THIS:

2007 Babies born to Unwed Mothers
7774 Total
2,464 Kept by MOTHERs

2,656 Total 
1388 Domestic

1268 (ICA)

Adoptions
InCountry by 4 Adoption Agencies and InterCountry Adoptions
(after 5 months old)
3014 Unidentified?? MAYBE SECRET CIVIL ADOPTIONS???
 
At the Feb. 24th KWDI Forum on Women’s Policy, EVERY SPEAKER lamented the lack of details from the Government on exact figures for Unwed Mothers, single head of households (Divorced/widow), EVEN how to FIND these answers by altering the CENSUS scheduled this YEAR. Thanks to the Forum the various NGO’s and Provincial/Federal Officials can solve these issues.
 

Fearing financial and social struggles, 96 percent of unmarried pregnant women have abortions, and of those who choose to give birth, 70 percent give up their children for adoption, the state-run Korean Women's Development Institute reports.

The KWB notes that this has been updated by 2009 figures from KWDI that show 37%  of Unwed mothers are keeping their children. This means only 63% are giving up for adoption, for CIVIL adoptions NOT covered in Government Stats, Domestic Adoptions, and THEN the ICA (InterCountry Adoptions).

In the United States, only 1 percent of unwed moms choose adoption, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. NYTimes

In 2007, 7,774 babies were born out of wedlock in South Korea, 1.6 percent of all births. (In the United States, nearly 40 percent of babies born in 2007 had unmarried mothers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.) Nearly 96 percent of unwed pregnant women in South Korea choose abortion, according to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.

The KWB Does NOT feel anger or put blame on these women who DO have Abortion, They have the Right to Choose. They also have the right to Choose to GIVE UP FOR ADOPTION. YES? Contact KUMSN, Dr. Boas and see how you can help. Take time out and DO something, it will help you also understand WHAT YOUR KOREAN MOTHER FACED when she had to decide what to do with YOU.

When it comes to welfare services, Korea still lags far behind other developed countries. Childcare, in particular, is one of the biggest obstacles for working moms, regardless of their being married or not.

However, while married or divorced women receive support from their expanded family members for childcare and other family affairs, such support is absent for unwed moms, making them more vulnerable.

The Korean War Baby believes that we must support these brave Korean mothers, who actually number thousands. The founding members of KUMSN are only the tip of the iceberg at 50 some members. There is a move to becoming a Non-Government Organization (NGO) and if you are interested contact Dr. Richard BOAS at richardboasmd@gmail.com

PLEASE FACTCHECK THE KWB!!! If you disagree SHOW HIM YOUR FACTS, engage in dialog and discussion. We can/should/must work together for the good of every child in our homeland.

5 comments:

  1. Hey big brov! This most is amazing! My heart goes out to these women. You know I live in the states where things are very much different in comparison to Korea and raising children. I think its terrible how these governments are in some countries. This is a life we are talking about!! How can we treat it as if its nothing to abort or to relinquish rights of a child composed of our heart and DNA. Ive learned in school about that the "dark figures" of statistics where countries will only report but a small percentage of facts dealing with what they would consider to be "negative" factors that may look their country look bad.

    We are thankful to have someone like you and your friends that work to get the voice out and spread the truth! I am proud of Chang Ji-Young, she is a hero!

    Thanks for sharing and educating us!

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  2. Jessenia,
    How is Spain? I heard you are over there right now. The Newsweek article in Korea will be out in two weeks. Hopefully they kept everything in it that I wrote. It is not the worldwide edition but at least Koreans and expats here will hear some of the many "Voices of the Adoptees" that are out there.

    Thank you for sharing your heart on your blog. *Note: Click on "I am Muzik" and visit the "My Blood is Your Blood" for a domestic adoptees in the USA and her own powerful story of her search. Also She is my inspiration! to Blog. (my wife might read this. LOL)

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  3. KWB: You are so funny you know you crack me up every time. I enjoy reading your post even if I dont have the time to comment. Often times my time is limited when it comes to my blogging activities, and then when i read your post you leave me with so much I want to say I know it was take me about 20min to process and then it will take me about 20 min to write my comment. LOL. Its always great having your perspective, it teaches me so much! Keep on writing and I appreciate all the love. Bless

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  4. I can never understand why unwed mothers had to be discriminated. It's not like they committed a crime or something. Fine, they had sex out of wedlock and got pregnant, big deal, right?

    For me, abortion should never be an option. Those mothers who chose to abort their child ARE AS MUCH AS COWARDS AND IRRESPONSIBLE AS THE GUYS WHO GOT THEM PREGNANT.

    I mean, sorry, what really surprises me and something I can't comprehend is the fact that even their own families disown these women. Why, for the Love of God, can a mother disown her daughter? More than anyone else she should know how it felt like being pregnant and having a child. And being married doesn't give her the right to kick her daughter out. It's not an issue of being married or not but the issue of having a child.

    It's not the woman's fault the guys didn't keep his promise. It's the guy, ok? Gosh, this really upsets me. Here, in the Philippines, unwed mothers, may to some certain extent face value judgments from other people, but it's so rare (or almost non-existent) that a woman gets disown by her family. Her family are the first people who accepts her situation. They understand.

    Don't shoot me. Don't kill me. Just my two cents on the matter. Peace.

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  5. Thank you Anonymous for your comments,

    "Abortion should never be an option" I totally agree with you. I spent ten years in the Philippines and right now I am living here again. Yes, in the Philippines it is very very different, being a predominately Catholic Christian (and many Protestants also) country abortion is not practiced "as much". The people are much more supporting of young women who are Not married.

    It is this fact that you point out, that makes Korea so different. Even now the situation for unwed mothers is unacceptance by society and family. It is changing for the better, but slowly. As more unwed mothers speak out perhaps the society will also improve. We hope for that day. Thank you also for pointing out the MEN, Korean or foreign, who are not 'keep his promise'. In Korea, Paternity tests are NOT enforced, men can escape having to support the woman. I would disagree on this: Mothers who chose to abort their children are not cowards. I think we must give them understanding on this. As a man, personally I cannot judge, what a woman does, but try to understand that she is put through so much pressure to simply get an abortion. Since it is so easy to do in South Korea, every day 4,000 are done-equal in yearly numbers to USA with 8 times more population. But I cannot blame the young women (95%) or married women that are forced by circumstances and left few choices. Remember that many later come to regret their decisions, some even having to secretly adopt themselves. If you can contact me, I am now in Angeles City, Pampanga.

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