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 9, 2010

Misconceptions of My Korean Mother

Korean War Baby’s misconception of his Korean mother.
I am ashamed that for many years I 'joked that my mother was a whore and my father was the entire 1st Marine Division!!! To my SHAME I admit this. I came to realize this was wrong after discovering that my sister and I were actually Really related. (See Lorelei is really my sister?) Our Mother kept us as long as she could after our birth father had to leave Korea. It was very difficult for men to bring back their “Oriental brides” (Until the early 1960’s many states would not recognize mixed-race marriages).
We are from the same father, of the same Genes. DNA tests showed that we had the SAME birth/natural father. He was with our mother for over 3 years…

I will probably never meet her or him, but I trust in God that my mother may be waiting in heaven (with my Adoptive Mother). Years ago a Japanese-American Pastor, who I did not know me and had never met me, came to our church in Kansas City, Mo. He was from San Diego I remember and spoke at our Wed. nite meeting. He asked me to stand up in a meeting and inquired if I was the guy who was “Kinda, Sorta, Asian.” Everyone in the place LAUGHED, people who knew only the nice Don.

In the depth of my being, in the mind of a young child who had to fight for survival in post-war torn KOREA, I WANTED TO LASH OUT WITH A REAL SAMURAI SWORD AND KILL EVERY FUCKING Goddamn PERSON WHO LAUGHED!!!
BUT, I smiled and told MY STORY, “yeah, I am ONLY Half-Korean, I was born during the Korean War…..”(To Be Continued in a later Post). Every Day in Korea, I am reminded that I “Don’t look Korean AT ALL” and the wounded part of me wants to yield to the rage and just HIT ‘EM. Just keeping it real.

What is this Rage, this BLACK UGLY DARKNESS, that is MY OLD FRIEND?

It is the survival mode of a wounded child, what many of you may at times feel, to hopefully lesser degrees. In a microsecond, full blown RAGE AND MURDEROUS thoughts would FLASH in my mind and I would be ready to go FULL ON BERSERK, bent on hurting the object or person of my perceived torment with total rage.

Old Friend of mine, Bill a really old guy, and could have been my birth father’s age, was great at telling stories. Bill served in the Korean War with one of the best Regiments, 27th Inf. Regiment "The Wolfhounds". My computer at that time, 1999, was a Pentiun I only made by a small Korean firm, and was constantly giving me headaches. Bill was learning to use the internet and would leave it on walk away with 50 ‘windows still connected, running up a huge monthly bills.

Well, one day I got so frustrated, that I grabbed a claw hammer and after calmly disconnecting the computer, opened the side panel and began to hit it and smash it to pieces, smashing everything even the hard drive. Pieces were shattered and scattered all around the living room. I stood in the middle of the room, smiling like a demon possessed maniac…I would NOT be having problems with THAT thing again, NO SIRREE.

Bill sat still at the kitchen table throughout my moments of insanity, sipping his ‘martini with onions, no olives, pure Gin on the rocks’. He had been sharing the two bedroom apartment with me for 3 months, so knew a bit about my “Dark Moods”.

Bill was a grumpy old guy but was the Real Deal. Bill had been awarded the Silver Star medal for bravery in escaping with his teammates after his recon patrol was captured by North Korean troops. Bill used a C-Ration can lid to slash the throat of one guard, grab his rifle, free his men and escape with a prisoner. I read the citation that he had left behind when he went to the USA and sent it to him.

the_shining_heres_johnny Bill said to me, “You feel better now? Let’s go up to 3-Alley Pub and bother that damn kraut- Gunther and the Canadian guy, what’s his name?”

My head was clearing, breathing slowing, heart rate dropping. “Oh, that’s Albert…(pause)…I should clean this up first.”

Bill replied, “It will still be here when we get back, I am buying first round”.
“The Shining”- Jack Nicholson here

I was just fine after letting it out, and in fact I highly recommend breaking someTHING rather that hurting some people or slashing depression-drawingthroats. Heh heh. We caught a cab and ‘bother Gunther and Al at the 3-Alley Pub, Itaewon. BUT I DIGRESS.
THIS IS MY DARKNESS -mindless instant RAGE, Not depression but the opposite reaction, something that must I try to rein in or I would physically harm others or break the bones in my hands, again. Just talking about it tightens my gut and I must settle down


Do some of you have this Madness and Rage in you? Know many of you do!!
Many of us turn it inward or punish themselves…their Darkness becomes inward suffering, depression, self-loathing, even suicidal.

Many Adoptees do not realize that some of the issues they have are related to the Traumas that we suffered in our Inner Child. More on that from real experts, later. (Recommended: Joe Soll, author of several books "Adoption Healing: the Path to Recovery")


WHEW, WELL, time for a break. Thank you #24 for a 'Teaching Moment".


  1. Thank you, Don, for your honesty.

  2. This is a good outlet for you, Don. Txs. for sharing this. Inspiring.