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 10, 2010

SHADES OF GRAY in This Thing of Ours-Adoption


SHADES of GRAYS

image
White to Black in a way represent extreme ends, could be the radical sides of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. "Pro-Adoption extremist may extol and praise the "forever" family, "lucky, fortunate, blessed, to have a loving family 'taken by choice' (meaning of Adopt)- this is an EXTREME view of a few in this camp.


"Anti-Adoption Adoptee's Association” extremists defend the rights of the child and natural/birth mother/father to have Family Preservation. They lament losing their language, culture, social identity. Which one is White or Black? You might demand, BUT from each END-from each polarized side it is THE "OTHERS" THAT ARE BLACK!! WE are the Good, correct, righteous guys! It depends on which side you are in your perspective, then the "Others" are Extreme.

The two “camps” are labeled Pro-Adoption and Anti-Adoption by some. Many have in horror asked the Korean War Baby, “Why are you compromising on the issues, brother? Stand firm in your convictions, are you For us or Against US” This is a colorful but true concern from a dear friend. BUT the Korean War Baby IS somewhere in between, on case to case basis. IT IS NOT JUST US AND THEM...the vast majority are somewhere in the middle shades of GREY.

US versus THEM??KodakQ14GrayScale

So the Korean War Baby will NOT put his label on either, as EACH SIDE has their OWN PERSPECTIVE. It is the SHADES of GRAY in between that represent SIMILAR YET SULTLE DIFFERENCES that concern us here. Let us think that this spectrum shows the Labels "Happy to have been Adopted" OR "Angry and Sad to have been Adopted". (These are extremes Points of View- BLACK and WHITE remember).

Perhaps the huge Majority are in the middle shades of Gray, yes, no? For certain one group DOES NOT REPRESENT us ALL, yet this is the Manchurian Plot that has been foisted (I do love dictionary/thesaurus/spell checker online!) upon us by a tiny group of 33, with world wide membership (including Non-Koreans) of less than 450 odd souls
.
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“Wassup wid Dat? Yo, is you Wack’d or Wat?
Forgetta ‘bout it!!”
The FULL SPECTRUM of personal stories fit somewhere on this scale. Each of us can find the best "Shade of Grey" that represents their life, and as WE grew up, (The WE is also SUB-Group Labels such as Mixed-Blood/Multi-Ethnic, Special Needs, etc). Throughout my life at various times I would have placed myself at various places as I developed more understooding of my Ethnic roots and understanding of my own Identity, WHO I AM.

During our adolescent years many of us find that we ‘really are not white’ like our friends. During High School and especially during our College or University, work, or military service, our ethnic identity was challenged and questioned. Most of us did not become murderous like a few, nor did we end our lives tragically…some DID sadly and the rates of crime and suicide are almost the same as- adults who came from BROKEN homes from divorce, grew up with only mothers never knowing their fathers.

As I have said before, Adoption is NOT THE BEST SOLUTION but it is much better than others like Abortion, Institutional Care, even Foster Care.


The Evan B. Donaldson's Adoption Institute's "Beyond Culture Camp" Here report of Nov. 2009, suggested (remember less than 170 KADs took the survey) that as a child grows up their Adoption Identity shifts and changes. Most of us (again not all) were TransRacially adopted by Caucasian families, according to the myth "rich white folks". I have found this NOT to be true, and challenge this myth. Hell, my white adoptive parents were NOT RICH.

BUT many of us did grow up in families that were mixed, a U.N. fusion style that “some surveys” show that Multi-Cultural communities HELP adoptees of “Color” to adapt to their ever developing multi-cultural societies that still have some prejudices, Oh My! It does SEEM that our European KAD’s may have suffered more than USA, then there are many examples of US KAD’s saying “I was the only non-caucasian in the small town I grew up in. I was the ‘United Nations’ to them.”


Somehow despite all these “enormous pressures” MOST of the KADs have survived! Though some have returned to visit Korea, (figures ‘counting’ the number of Kads coming would have counted ME, uh each time I came back from vacation, ten times.) and see the roots of their beginnings. Some continue and search for their birth families, but Some are NOT in that place. 

Each must do what they want to do, even brother and sister may have different places. It is an Individual's choice "to search or NOT" and only less than 2,500 HAVE found and reunited with natural/birth families. Again with varying degrees and reactions from one extreme to another.





rainbow_prism_poster-p228736076172014950trma_400This Spectrum could also be likened to a PRISM that splits the white light into the rainbow of visual light. So too is the Plethora of stories.

The facts are that FEW facts have been gathered by Adoption professionals only surveys with limited numbers of participants. The figures for International adoption vary in tens of thousands.

One thing CAN BE SAID, "There is no ALL" but groups and subgroups that sometimes have similarities and unique differences.

For example, Koreans BORN IN THE USA, may have two Korean parents but their level of language skill, understanding of Korean daily life, detailed knowledge of Cultural and historical events are similar to a KAD from Mich. or Minn. who has "Gone beyond just Culture Camp" and done intensive study about their motherland.


When they come to Korea to teach English with fantasies of warm acceptance from their “motherland”. Then, they are Culture Shocked by everyday differences in walking, pushing, personal space, inquiring probing personal questions. Most are then dismayed to find themselves on the 3rd tier of Teachers desirability list.
"Wanted Caucasian Teachers, No Kyopos please (and that also means KAD too)".
Just ask Holt Survivor Girl #4708 or anyone else who TRIES to GO NATIVE. Lots of Luck. The Glass Ceiling is SET by the expectations and demands of Korean AhJuMa Moms who demand "White Teachers with impressive degrees" even if they have heavy accents.25453-clipart-illustration-of-a-group-of-mad-angry-bully-crying-and-bandaged-red-and-yellow-emoticon-faces (Nothing wrong with accents, I have always told my students-but this is the "Native Speaker must be a White person" syndrome.

Those teachers of Color and like the KWB, mixed-blood are on the 2nd tier. Full blooded Koreans, though Native Speakers are on the next 3rd tier. An inconvenient and frustrating fact. TIK-This IS Korea. SIGH :(




andy-warhol





Andy Warhol once famously said that, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." With those words, he was not only coining a phrase but making a statement that exemplified his view of art and the world. His transformational style of creating art of the everyday, in many ways, made him the face of the Pop art movement and led to the creation of some of the most iconic images in modern American art. With YouTube some are getting their 15 minutes.



In his own “15 minutes of Fame” moment, the Korean War Baby will attempt to explain in the next few days HIS GRAND SCHEME and (hint) the PERFECT SOLUTION to all that is held dear and holy, fair and benevolent to Almost Everyone in This Thing of Ours-Adoption!!! (if the Lord permits me…and my foolish passion does not overtake sound advice from my doctor to eat, sleep, take my diabetes meds or DIE.

Oh, a few comments were made on Public Forums about THAT, and I have the ‘Print Screen’ records sent byP100409024 friends. But God has forbidden me to use them. It is not HIS way, but my own revengeful hurt spirit DOES wants to destroy the very thing he supported, true NEUTRALITY of GOA’L which is NO MORE.

"Smack down" from the Father. Got to put off the old ways. God chastens His child."
 
It is so difficult to like, (oh…okay!) LOVE others, when one feels betrayed and I am not so wise, if only I had learned from SO many mistakes in my life, I would falsely claim to have gained incredible wisdom…but I still repeat my errors and lose my temper, break things and well, “you’re just human” doesn’t excuse it. I have been firmly reminded, “YOU can BE replaced”...“For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.”


“Too late, too late have I loved THEE...” lamented St. Augustine, in his work “Confessions”. Yes, too late for me to get a degree, too late to be a father, too late to do so much. Failure upon failure. Oh, that my miserable life could help just a few of my Dong Saengs, my fellow Korean Adoptees and the Secretly adopted Dong Saengs in Korea.


This is my only hope, this is what I WILL DO until my time on earth here is finished. Everyday belongs to my Maker, the Giver of Life. I must make my witness not for personal reasons but for those EACH YEAR that get a family, MOST done in unfortunate SECRECY, others sent abroad. Also, I hear in my mind and in nightmares, the cries of the "unexpected" Unwanted Pregnancies, terminated because of inconvenience, and those deemed ‘‘Undesirable or damaged” children who are less than perfect. The more one knows the heavier becomes the burden. I am consumed by incredible HORROR of the facts, I cannot hold it in but must shout from the "rooftop" of cyberspace. This is why I am "passionate".

Lamentations 2:11 “My eyes fail with tears; my inward parts ferment; my liver is poured on the ground for the ruin of the daughters of my people, in that the children and the babies faint in the streets of the city.”





Tell us, YOU who would STOP ALL ADOPTION IN KOREA, where do the children play? In crowded orphanges until their they are cast out on their own?

Or given a loving home in Open, not in Secret adoption in Korean families. Or in Foreign lands where they will grow up in multi-cultural families?
Next. The Korean War Baby presents
THE PERFECT SOLUTION’
 
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