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 15, 2010

Resilience-More on "Every Family..."


Resilience Synoposis has this:"With every new family created by adoption, another family gets torn apart." This Statement seems rather like Hollywood marketing hype.

Does "EVERY" new family includes the thousands of Disabled (37,246 Special Needs children of whom 97% are rejected by Korean people). What of the thousands of Mixed-Blood children in the first generation of adoptees until 1973 when abortion "fixed that problem" (Please read into this bitter sarcasm). Oh, and the Abandoned with no identity papers (29,950). All these figures come from the Min. of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.These numbers add up to about 40% of the 200,000 Overseas or InterCountry Adoptions from Korea. 

NO, my friends this is a misleading statement. Please, Tammy Chu correct this with some qualifiers, Let's keep it REAL, not hyped. I endorse the movie as a tragic example, but NOT representing ALL, or EVERY new family. This is over the top, sounds like a great sound bit...but is it completely true? I don't think anyone can say that.

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Some comments received on Facebook.

From "M"

Don, is this in response to something in particular? Who is "they" that you question what "they" mean?

I often state is thusly: "Every adoption represents a family that has failed to find the resources they needed to remain together." Abandoning a child is an act of desperation created by lack of options and support.

 
YES, M. I almost wholeheartedly agree with you on this. "an act of desperation" and thus I do not hold anger towards mothers and fathers, Couples as well as Unwed mothers who did this. BUT I disagree on the "EVERY" term. "resources they needed to remain together" just doesn't have a "ONE SIZE FITS ALL" because there are many situations IN KOREA where this does not hold true. Again, "every" is very powerful word.WHAT IS IMPORTANT to understand that ECONOMIC reasons HAVE NOT BEEN the most recent cause of mothers relinquishing children for adoption. Rather it is the Society's pressures and prejudices against single Unwed mothers raising children and perhaps those who, though did not want to abort, do NOT wish to take on motherhood. The number of unwed mothers keeping their babies is rising from just 2005 at 31.7% to 2008 at 37%. Ten years ago the percentage was 5% only.
There are many reasons that a woman chooses to terminate her conditions. Facts on Mixed-Race or the Korean governements preferred term "Mixed-Blood", births after 1973 is quite stark...zero for many years. Abortion was made easier to do, this is well documented fact. Abortion has been used as a form of birth control for many years. Many agree that 50% of women of child bearing years have had at least ONE abortion.

What is "a family," does this mean a woman who does NOT want to raise the child has NO RIGHT to Relinquish? What about the 63% of Unwed Mothers in 2008 who DID CHOOSE to give up their babies for adoption in-country and InterCountryAdoption. In-country was 70% in Korea and 30% overseas.

Doctors performing few abortions!! 

Every, yes, Every day of the year OB/GYN doctors claim 4,000 women chose to terminate/end unwanted pregnancies, though I personally am against abortion I still feel that a woman should have the ultimate CHOICE, it is her body and she will have to face the emotional consequences. I do NOT hold ill feelings towards them, nor do I call them names (as a few extremists do). 

I believe that MEN who had sex with a woman then run away are cowards and DNA testing should be done to determine if paternity is established. Put a shotgun to the male AND their parents to "do the right thing and legally bind them to support the mother and child. What ever happened to Shotgun weddings?

There is NO law in Korea concerning making the biological sperm donor/sex partner be responsible. NONE. I support FAMILY PRESERVATION and would go so far to have them FIXED with a “emergency Vasectomy” unless the young man gets married. 

"I find your comment that abortion "fixed" the "problem" of "mixed-blood" children extremely racist and offensive. Are you implying that that was the only reason for abortion?"

"Abortion "fixed" the problem of mixed-blood children" if you will search for that on my blog using the search widget you would find also on the top headline "Adoption Stats_OAK_MOHWFA" that Abortion laws were amended in 1973 with five reasons allowing with a wink and a nod (according to numerous Korean news articles) many abortions to take place. "Racist and offensive" is the Korean's society's POINT OF VIEW of many.

The ironic thing is that because the government policies were so successful, Korean men in the countryside have turned to mail-order brides from overseas from several countries, and over 167,000 marriages have happened in the last 12 years. Though about 10-15% end in divorce and other issues of abuse, rejection by In-laws etc. The majority are working things out and over 100,000 MIXED-BLOOD children have been born. Korea, gasp, is no longer a homogeneous people. (The Korean War Baby just has to giggle because Hon Hyul Ahs (mixed-bloods) ARE BACK!!! Korean... time to step up to the Globalization you all wanted.lucky-or-not

"M" I am a half-breed, I am Mixed-Blood and after 1973 the records show that mixed-blood (under the Disabilities section I am proud to say counted with all Cleft lips, and 37,246 other Special Needs children Exported by Koreans because THEY ARE PREJUDICED as a society, even to this day they only adopted 3 % and 97% are sent to other countries.

I WOULD HAVE BEEN ABORTED. Here is the chart:

Lucky or Not?
Characteristics of International Adoptees, 1953-2007
Year              

       Male
Mixed-Blood
1972
3,490

212

1973
4,688

154

1974
5,302

??

1975
5,077

??
Well, what happened in 1974. OH, Mixed-Blood babies were no longer a problem, solved by Abortion...
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One more reminder folks, using Facebook can lead to inadvertently telling a bit too much. Don't hit the "Reply All" button or your comment will go to everyone on a 20person lists.
It no longer is private.




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