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 12, 2010

Light Versus Darkness

Few years ago I met a Korean women who had suffered being adopted SECRETLY adopted. For those who have been adopted overseas a great majority of us were Trans-Racially and/or Cross-Culturally adopted by families that were NOT just “rich white folks”. Those adopted in Korea are subject to the prejudices of Society in general about adoption.

This young woman describe to me how she discovered that she was “ip Yang in” (adopted person) when her ‘father’ had to have surgery and they asked if she could donate blood. A nurse came up to her with a curious look and asked, “Do you know that your blood type doesn’t match with your parents? YOU must be adopted, right? We cannot use your blood…

When this young woman, I called her Lucky, asked her ‘mother’ if this was true, then she learned the truth finally. They had not told any of the other children of her “Adoptive father”. Until this day it must remain secret. Her story can be read Abandoned Princess-Part 1-3.

Lucky was the same age as my bio-daughter, who though we have contact also wishes to not tell her children yet about 'your other grandfather'. I tried to explain how in my own life bitterness and anger were really coming from the Roots of Rejection, Abandonment, Loss, that our inner child even as a newborn felt as we were separated from our mothers. It does not matter the reasons, the loss is felt in differing levels. When my Adoptive parents took care of babies in a Foster Care program the 2-3 day old infants would cry constantly, until they bonded with us, then what happened? They went to another "family" and hopefully readjusted to "Another family". Depending on the strength of that family to love and nurture, the child grew up and learned to accept it's fate in life. But the Darkness may still remain...and needs to be brought into the light of day.

“Light versus Darkness”

Light, sweet Light, once bright and clear,

Long ago, almost forgotten.

Brief, sweet moments, blazed up again,

Once more, blessed my heart,


Short, fleeting, like morning dew,

Wet, nourished, my poor dry spirit.

I am thrown-away, again; scorched by sun,

Burned and blown, by the wind!


Fading Light, sweet light within,

Dimming, fading, don’t leave me alone!

Demon hordes, beats upon barred door,

Release us, let us loose inside you.”


Satan, beckons to my soul,

Seeking once again, for total control,

Darkness, my Old Friend, calls out,

“Let me rule you, again.”


Wounded soul, cries out in pain,

“Olma, Olma! Where are you?”

Evil cloud comes, to cover me,

With fear, revenge, and hatred.


“Light of God, where is Thy power?

Come, renew my waning light..

My crushing pain, cannot bear alone,

Hell’s shadow, chills me to the bone.


Light and Darkness, clash within,

Mighty struggle, for my heart and mind.

Torn by tug of war, challenge for my life,

Fighting furiously within, such fearful strife.


Satan once ravaged my troubled soul,

Darkness directed my vile paths.

The Devil seeks to claim me once more,

“I am your father, unlock the door!”


“No,” weakly I reply, “I’m beaten down,

But that ain’t so! Once darkness you ruled me,

Now no more! I’ve had enough of my hate.

Father of Lies, you cannot debate.


I surrender, in my hurt and pain,

Heavenly Father, I cry out to You.

“Appa, Father, help your hopeless son,

Save me from my own Sin and Darkness!”


“Light of God, my brother Jesus,

Shine on me, make Darkness flee!

Your Light shatters the Cloud of Darkness,

Pierce, scatter, Shine Brightly on me!”


“Darkness, you have no more hold,

For Now I know! I am a child of God.

Co-heir to Christ Jesus, my big brother,

I walk in His Light, such Eternal bliss.”


Dear sister, Lucky, as you read this,

I plead and ask you to behold,

My Father and Brother, offer you,

The Spirit of Adoption, too.


Let me guide you to His Light,

Our weaknesses are too great.

Your pain has spoiled your heart,

The Heavenly Father reaches out with open arms.


“Come, My Daughter, just take my Hand,

Rest in My loving arms,

No more a ‘devil’ you will be,

For I, your Father have Called you, My Child


“When you were born, you were despised,

Unwashed, forlorn, and thrown-away.

I saw you laying in your blood and filth,

I spoke over you, “Live! Live, For you are Mine.”


“I AM THE LORD, Your life is in My Hands,

I Chose you when you grew inside your mother,

Though she rejected you, I WILL Take you up!

I AM your Heavenly Father, I claim you for My own.”


“Learn of Me, Seek me and you will find Me.

I give you My Solemn Oath, to Love you.

Believe in My Son, instantly you will be,

My Daughter, My Child. Come to Me!”

(To my adoptive sister, Lucky)

Without understanding the situations of our Mothers and fathers, we cannot find total freedom from the hurt and pain within our wounded spirit. Counselors and Psychoanalysis can only identify the problems, it is the ability to Forgive that is important.

Last year, when I began the program on TvN, Korean cable channel, I was faced with the thoughts of hope and also of doubt. “What if SHE does watch this? What will she DO?”

My reaction, based on living here 15 years, and becoming bitter over NOT finding my mother, was to think, “I bet she won’t even try to make contact…NO, she can’t tell that fucking secret to her family! I am wasting my God damn time. I’ll just look like FOOL on tv!

Whoa! Where is that coming from? I did not think I had “issues” of anger towards her, why I had said to many people that I forgive her. But was it real? Was it just ‘the right thing to do?’ I realized that I still had bitterness towards her.

When I would see Korean mothers with screaming spoiled BRATS, giving in to their every whim…I would have thoughts of anger towards the mother! Thoughts like “Just slap him in the face! Why do you treat him like a WonJa (Prince).” Now I never said that outloud, but it played out in my mind. God was showing me then that I had not truly been able to FORGIVE my mother.

When I see the Unwed Mothers who have KEPT their babies. WELL, they are completely different to the image in my mind of “Perfect Mother, suffering for the sake of her child. etc.” See, I am putting them on a pedestal in my fantasy of comparison of “good” versus “Bad” mothers. That ought not to be. I began to see this only last year that I must understand BOTH, mothers who relinquished and those who kept.

This is the Darkness of my heart and soul, that shows me how much I still hurt inside. This is what motivates me to want to bring others to try to understand ALL mothers, yes, even those who have had abortions, tried In Vitro Fertilization and failed, abandoned, or abused, both physically, sexually, and mentally.

Most recent “horrible mother” to be reported is a woman who sent back to Russia a child she could not ‘deal’ with and she no longer wanted to parent. She is being “demonized” by the media, yet few articles mention that she is a SINGLE Mom with a biological son. Where is the “Adoptive Father” well there is none because in the rush to be “Liberated” we have allowed Single people to adopt. We are all influenced by the one-sided media reports that fail to give all the details. When you get the full picture and hear all sides, we may come to a better understanding. SOME use her story to question Adoption, gleefully shouting, “You SEE! Another case of Horrible Adoption Industry practices!!”

November_winter

The Korean War Baby still has the Post-Search Blues. Wondering if SHE saw but could not bring herself to telling the SECRET to her family. In my heart I want to forgive her, and I read of others who have reunited. Some with good results, some with bitterness and more rejection. That is why I read every story, to prepare myself, just in case…

Mat 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?

Mat 18:22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.

Forgiveness does not happen by just saying it once…

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4 comments:

  1. I don't know if it will come in my lifetime, but I have to believe that someday human beings will understand that lives should never be lived in secrecy and lies. Maybe my own faith tells me this, maybe I'm just reading the signs I see in "adoption-land." I don't know - I just know that those who see adoption as the easy way to avoid social stigma won't be able to sustain their show forever.

    As for the woman who returned her son to Russia: I have tremendous sympathy for people who are parenting children with emotional illness. The reason I draw the line more harshly with Torri Hansen is that there were other more appropriate actions she could have taken. It's not her frustration with the situation that I object to, it's the drastic and completely inappropriate action.

    I would love to learn more from adult adoptees adopted in Korea by Korean families. Certainly there are similarities to the intercountry adoption experience, but maybe more to domestic adoption?

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  2. Don, thank you for this powerful and beautiful witness. I also have the post-search blues, but I'm still hopeful. I'm sending hope to you too.

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  3. Margie,

    Totally agree with you concerning the woman Ms. Hansen, yet I have only read 3 articles about her, and that is NOT enough. Only one mentioned that she was a single woman with a biological son. I am against Singles adopting because it is difficult enough to be in the situation of a new family with both parents. Imagine with only the mother, who has to work to earn a living.

    I know from my own experience that the natural son may, just might have been uneasy with the whole thing and between the two boys would have been rivalry issues. My own older adoptive brother was my Adoptive Father's son from a 1st Marriage. He was six years older and almost from the beginning when he thought no one was looking would just pop me one in the head.

    Mom would hear a THWACK, come into the living room and find me on the floor and my brother acting like nothing happened. I just got up and shook my head when she asked me if something was wrong. Sometimes she would pop him just because she knew I wasn't THAT clumsy to be falling down all the time. I did become like the detective in Pink Panther, always ready for a sudden attack. Helped later in life.

    Point is that we just don't know how rational the woman was thinking, her support network, Family support, many many factors. Why I remember several times my mother bitterly telling me "I wish I had never adopted you".

    OUCH, that hurt but some older kids (five) I have heard also had it in their minds, don't complain OR You'll get Sent BACK. I know of several adoptee friends who feared that. Just like the so called "missionaries (who were NO such thing not one of them) the ten who followed Ms. Silsby.

    She is the Poster Child of HOW NOT TO DO IT, this woman is to me, an example of why only a full fledged family ought to start out adopting. Life is full of surprises and disappointments. Older children are much more difficult to attach to a family. The older ones absolutely need a multiple sibling old fashioned big family to be taken into for sure. Where are the darn so called Adoption Professions doing? Missed the boat on this one.

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  4. Jennifer,

    Yes, we must hold onto to hope...for without it we have only the grim reality of life. Well, that was rather dark. Somewhere I remember hope is like faith, intangible but sense in the spirit, not in the soul, felt in our hearts, not in the mind.

    I still HOPE that the 2nd and 3rd generation of KADs will USE EVERY method (shame and blame hasn't worked yet. Pushing and prodding, begging and pleading to the Korean people to accept IpYangin/adoptees both ICA and Domestic/Civil with openness and even grudging respect.

    Not in my time, in ten years perhaps the numbers of Unwed mothers keeping their babies will reach 70%, TEN more for 90%.

    The Korean War Baby will be gone from this earth by then :( Do try to let some children find families, just the ones that society here in the motherland REJECT as Imperfect and unlovable...Please.

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