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.


May 17, 2010

Community of Adoptees

Community of Adoptees

Let me be clear on this definition-I believe that if we speak of the "Community of Adoptees" does this limit us to "THOSE LIVING CURRENTLY" In-Country? Or does it mean the greater community of Korean Adoptees Diaspora of 170-200,000 living in many countries. What about OTHER Adoptees, such as Vietnamese War orphans, Haitians, Chinese, Russian, well we could go on and on.

But the community of KOREAN adoptees MUST INCLUDE all members who ACTIVELY and Non-actively are defacto MEMBERS. If the "Silent Majority" do not voice their opinion do 'we' count them out? NO, they do make up huge numbers.

Activism is good and wonderful, BUT CAN one small group say that they SPEAK FOR ALL? No way, Jose!!!

Last weekend I met Richard who is a WHITE or Caucasian individual who is MARRIED to a Full-blooded Korean Adoptee and they have two handsome boys. They will live here for an extended time, why I suppose his Wife WILL BECOME an active member of the "IN-Country Community of Adoptees".

BUT a certain person who knew all of this was VERY curt even downright RUDE. I had invited Richard to 3 Alley Pub, Itaewon, to greet him and welcome him to Korea. We were just having some Scotch and beer, when "Juan Carlos" (alias) called ME out of the blue and asked to see me. I remembered the name and voice but actually when I saw Juan I recognized him from years ago. He was from the earliest days of GOA'L and I do remember him but the old age does affect clearly his involvement. I will ask Ami Natzger, the real FOUNDER of GOA'L what she remembers of Juan Carlos.

Juan asked to speak with me alone and Richard graciously agreed and left us in the booth, wandered about the pub, a complete stranger but the wonderful staff of 3 Alley Pub knew that Richard was 'with the KWB' and took good care of him. I had not even had time to introduce Richard to my many friends yet.

After 45 minutes together with "Juan Carlos" to discuss "current issues" and pleas that I just back off, stop attacking people, which I refute that I am attacking their IDEAS. My analogies of war, fighting, battle, are mere hyperboles and no sane person would REALLY think that I am MAD or INSANE enough to use "bladed" weapons. DO YOU?
Jer 51:20 You are My war-club and weapons of war; for with you I will shatter nations; and with you I will destroy kingdoms.
(Is this NOT allegoric speech?)

2Co 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,
(Perhaps those of you who don't READ much, don't understand Allegory, Anology, yikes need spell ck, Analogy, rhetoric, etc?)


I felt that we were done, and signaled Richard to return. After a few minutes more of conversation, in which it was clear that Richard's WIFE was a KAD and his children of Multi-cultural/ethnicity it was discuss about certain schools that would be difficult to get their children into because of the ...well, the fact of his children being HonHyulAh, of mixed-blood, these facts certainly GIVES HIM a VOICE in matters pertaining to current events in "Community of Adoptees". Don't you, dear readers?





Richard asked to give his opinion, very politely, but Mr. Juan Carlos, lashed out rather curtly and rudely, that he had no "voice" in all these matter!!!

Well, I beg to differ, because he is "involved by marriage and family to THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION. He most certainly DOES have a right to speak.


Richard and I were a bit stunned, and he tried to reason, pointing out that he and I had an appointment TOGETHER. Juan Carlos had invited himself to OUR party. Richard had graciously walked away and given Juan and I time together.

Yet, Juan was adamant in refusing to listen to him and actually CLIMBED OVER the booth to leave.


WELL, I never. I DON'T want to TERRIFY or make people FEAR the Korean War Baby but I felt inside like this:




BUT I was careful not to raise my voice nor TOUCH in any way physically, least I be accused of violent behavior or "threatening violence", mercy don't want that.

So I followed "Juan Carlos" outside and restated to him to pass on to OTHERS
"that The Korean War Baby is willing to accept Unconditional Surrender. PERIOD. Nothing else will do!!"



Hiss, take that, you meanies...

2 comments:

  1. I know this person from the founding of GOA'L and can attest, sadly, that his attitude, words, and actions were just as rude and offensive back then. Ideally, it is a good thing for brothers to live peaceably with each other. I wish him peace.

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  2. "Juan Carlos" is a very nice fellow and has married, raised family I believe, and successfully served in the local community of Korean Adoptees. He was a speaker on a panel for businesses other than teaching language back in 2008 GOA'L 10th Anniversary. I just feel that he disrespected a man who is connected by marriage to a KAD, their children certainly also give him a "Voice" in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

    I am sure that Juan somehow forgot the the "white guy" was married and father of two children who are of Mixed-blood and will face the daily challenges of life, yet they will help Koreans continue to grow by seeing more of such relationships.

    Remember that over 100,000 mixed-blood children now live in the ONCE homogeneous Land of the Morning Calm.

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