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.


April 16, 2010

Disabled-(Label of Government for Special Needs Children


The Korean War Baby got this from Jane Jeong Trenkas (TRACK) off her Blog:*Note use of COLOR is added for your clarification and because I just love SHOUTING. KWB
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Sorry, this post is all squished and I can’t figure out how to unsquish it. Dang computer. Well anyway, from this article in Pressian published on May 14, 2007 are the following statistics:

해외입양아동 수는 보건복지부의 통계에 의하면 1953년부터 2005년까지 총 15만8703명이었다. 이 중 혼혈 어린이는 1955년부터 1973년까지 내보내졌고, 총 5546명이었다. 정부의 또다른 통계에 따르면, 1958년부터 지금까지 입양 보낸 아동 중 비혼모아동은 9만8178명, 결손가정아동이 2만8823명, 버려진 아동이 2만9950명이었으며 전체 숫자 가운데 장애아동은 3만7216명이었다.
My translation:

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of overseas adoptees from 1953-2005 were 158,703 people. Of these, from 1955-1973 there were 5,546 mixed race adoptees. Other government statistics say that from 1958 until now 98,178 children sent for adoption were from unwed mothers,
28,823 from poor families,
abandoned children 29,950 and of the whole number there were 37,216 handicapped children.

Let me break those official stats down into percentages.

Mixed race: 3.49%
Unwed mothers: 61.86%
Poor: 18.16%
Abandoned: 18.87%
Handicapped: 23.45%

So, unwed mothers is by and large the biggest issue. Mixed race is without a doubt the smallest issue. If you live in Seoul or meet a lot of adoptees that is not really a surprise.

What is a surprise is — how many handicapped kids? Almost 1 in 4? Wow, that is a lot of handicapped kids. That’s almost a quarter of all adoptees! But where are all those handicapped adoptees? When we go to an adoptee gathering, are 1 in 4 adoptees whom we meet handicapped? Sure, there are people living with visible handicaps that we know, but not 1 in 4. Hmmmm….. what’s going on?

Here are some facts on handicap and adoptees from the 2009 National Assembly audit. We got the info in Korean and I translated it into an understandable English expression.
1. Classifications of adoptees
(Dec. 31, 2008, # of people)
agency total sex state of family state of health
M F Unwed mother Lost child, poverty Broken family normal handicapped

total 1,250 773 477 1,114 10 126 1,126 124
Holt 503 308 195 394 5 104 425 78
Eastern 336 209 127 329 5 2 307 29
SWS 378 240 138 358 - 20 361 17
KSS 33 16 17 33 - - 33 -

3. State of overseas adoptees’ prematurity and type of handicap from 2006 ~ June 2009


total subtotal premature handicapped children normal
harelip Hand foot mental handicap heart problem etc.
2006 1,899 713 303 21 7 24 86 272 1186
2007 1,264 500 222 4 9 15 41 209 764
2008 1,250 124 48 11 7 3 18 37 1126
June 2009 679 40 19 7 3 1 4 6 639

It’s important to note that “premature” are counted as part of the total statistic of “handicapped.” (See how the 124 matches up.)
Here’s what’s interesting:

What happened to the definition of “premature” between 2007 and 2008? A change of 222 to 48 cannot mean a change in actual condition. A change that large can only mean a change in definition. This change in definition caused the number of “handicapped” children to drop from 500 in 2007 to 124 in 2008.

What was the definition of “premature” in 2007, and what did it change to in 2008? Does this mean that many “handicapped” children sent from Korea were not severely handicapped, and not in a life-or-death situation, but were just … small?

That’s what I’m wondering. Some other things that I think are whack on here – since when in the world’s greatest plastic surgery mecca should a harelip (Cleft Lip) be a problem? Maybe back in the day, but in 2008 — ??

I apologize for my language. I realize I’ve been living in Korea for 5 years now so I have no idea anymore if “mixed race” or “handicapped” or “harelip/(cleftlip)” etc. are correct terms in English anymore. As you know my head is a complete language mess. Please somebody correct my language if it’s offensive or out of date. Thanks. Anyone else who has more or different statistics — please know I am all in favor of sharing knowledge and please do share if you have.

*Statistics from the 2009 National Assembly audit, Ministry of Health and Welfare
1. 성별, 발생유형별, 아동상태별 입양실적
(2008.12.31, 명)
기관명 성 별 발생유형별 아동상태별
미혼모아등 기아. 빈곤 결손 가정 비장애 장애

1,250 773 477 1,114 10 126 1,126 124
홀 트 503 308 195 394 5 104 425 78
동 방 336 209 127 329 5 2 307 29
대 한 378 240 138 358 - 20 361 17
한 국 33 16 17 33 - - 33 -


3. 06 ~09.6 연도별 해외입양아 미숙아 또는 조숙아, 장애유형별 장애아 현황


소계 미숙아/조숙아 장애아 정상아
언청이 손발기형 정신 장애 심장병 기타
2006년 1,899 713 303 21 7 24 86 272 1186
2007년 1,264 500 222 4 9 15 41 209 764
2008년 1,250 124 48 11 7 3 18 37 1126
2009년 6월 679 40 19 7 3 1 4 6 639

The KWB also wonders about some of these facts...I believe that "premature" children are NOT wanted by Korean people who would worry about the health of the child. The infants would not be adopted by the 5th month period and then would be LEFT-OVER (sorry this is a harsh term, but reality) and now available for adoption Overseas since the DEMAND was exceeded by SUPPLY.

Koreans put much emphasis on the education of their children, and perfect health. I would suggest that the Premature are not considered healthy enough by many (97% of Disabled children ARE sent Overseas)What? A Cliff oh CLEFT LIP.

Not all Korean people feel that way today but those who want to adopt in many countries also tend to want ones with no "problems". Still the stats show that overwhelmingly the figures are THIS:


Circumstances of Adoption, 1995-2007



Domestic Adoptions
Overseas Adoptions
Year
Reason for Relinquishment
Condition of Child
Reason for Relinquishment
Condition of Child
연도
Unwed
Mother
Instit.
Poverty
Normal
Disabled*
Unwed
Mother
Abandoned
Poverty
Normal
Disabled*

미혼모
시설
극빈가정
정상
장애*
미혼모
기아
극빈가정
정상
장애*
1995
680
297
48
997
28
2,019
21
140
1,135
1,045
1996
906
271
52
1,212
17
1,916
26
138
1,145
935
1997
1,064
258
90
1,400
12
2,018
8
31
1,273
784
1998
1,067
287
72
1,420
6
2,271
9
163
1,526
917
1999
1,369
199
158
1,712
14
2,253
5
151
1,584
825
2000
1,350
234
102
4,668
18
2,356
2
2
1,726
634
2001
1,428
221
131
1,756
14
2,434
1
1
1,693
743
2002
1,344
203
60
1,678
16
2,364
1

1,538
827
2003
1,181
210
173
1,544
20
2,283
2
2
1,638
649
2004
1,250
236
155
1,634
7
2,257

1
1,553
705
2005
1,095
172
194
1,434
27
2,069
4
28
1,364
737
Total
12,734
2,588
1,235
19,455
179
24,240
79
657
16,175
8,801

Note: "Disabled or Handicapped" "Special Needs" were only 179 Domestic adoptions compared to 8,801 (more than 50% of the NORMAL) for InterCountryAdoptions.
That is roughly 1 to 50 ratio or (0.02 percent-if my math is correct)...Just for 1995-2005, why this disparity? Hmm, could it be that Korean people don't want Disabled or FLAWED CHILDREN?

BUT Who can blame a Korean woman faced with such a decision? I the KWB DO NOT!!! She gave the gift of life by not aborting,(Frank Gets THE CALL) then made the Choice to give up for adoption, not knowing if it would be here In-Country or Overseas adoption. She perhaps was hoping that in another country a family would ADOPT or "Take by Choice" her child. It is not about "lucky to be adopted" NO, NO, NO.

OUR MOTHERS SACRIFICED FOR US by giving us up, yes perhaps even those who left us LIKE MOSES, you know the story of Moses? The mother of Moses watched him grow up in an Adopted Family, the son of Pharoah! She did not live to see God bring Moses back to help his people. Several hundred Korean Adoptees have chosen to come back and LIVE here. We are all like Moses, LOL. (Don't kill any local "Real" Koreans-Korean War Baby post)
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Found by Pharoah's Daughter, baby Moses was
Adopted and became a Prince of Egypt.

He grew up as a Royalty, but learned that he was of the enslaved people the Israelites (later called Jews, now Israeli's).
Moses saw the suffering of his people and tried to do something about it himself. Killed a slavedriver who was beating a Israelite. Some Israelites told Moses, "Who made you ruler over us? We know what you did".

So Moses was rejected by his people the Israelites. He was sent to the desert of the Sinai peninsula by Pharoah. But God was not finished with Moses, He called him to go back and "Set my people Free".
Read Exodus for the whole story.













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We KAD's and all members of the Adoption Triad and those involved in any way of This Thing of Ours-Adoption, must look at Korean Society's attitudes and those of Receiving countries as well. What social pressures caused or forced mothers to do THIS.
Yet The Korean War Baby does not hold animosity toward the 1,000 (Government figures) or the 4,000 (Pro-Life doctors OB/GYN) PREGNANT KOREAN WOMEN that Chose to Abort DAILY, yes DAILY in Korea.

These women, who some say are 50% of the Korean women of childbearing years 16-45 are to be understood and given SOME pity for MANY of them DO regret, they live with the inner pain and the secrets of having up to 3-5 Abortions to have a perfect CHILD. Can we put blame on them? NO, NO, NO.


Does anyone have more information on this subject, or voice your opinion.


3 comments:

  1. Don, Sorry actually this is my translation. The govt just says "장애인." Would it be better for me to translate as "special needs" or "handicapped"? I am a language mess and completely confused on what is politically correct. Some people seem to think that there is a difference between and "special needs" or "handicapped." I am just thinking 장애인 .... help me. ....

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jang Ae In usually is translated into "Disabled" still on for instance Elevators and the special seats at the end of each subway car.

    In American it used to be Politically Correct to say "Handicapped", then it became "Something Challenged" like a sort of tongue in cheek kind of light humor.

    This from a BBC article: "Handicapped" is a word which many disabled people consider to be the equivalent of nigger. It evokes thoughts of being held back, not in the race, not as good, weighed down by something so awful we ought not to speak of it.

    Yet some "Disabled persons don't like Special Needs either. The American Psychological Association style guide states that, when identifying a person with an impairment, the person's name or pronoun should come first, and descriptions of the impairment/disability should be used so that the impairment is identified. more acceptable terminology includes "a woman with Down syndrome".

    Interestingly many people are across the board with their own terminology, but most that I have personally known, desire to be just NORMAL.

    I wonder if SOME of us Adoptees would also like the Korean Society to ONE DAY, think of us as "Oh, you grew up in Los Angeles, California. I have been to Disneyland!" You know just accepted as a Part Korean.

    ReplyDelete
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