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 19, 2010

OPEN LETTER BOX-First ResponseKWB

Uh OH!

OOPS!!!


To my friends and collegues, adoptees, All who have known me in the past,


I am accused of 'Threatening Violence and even murder'. Such accusations are grave and serious matters. I ask for your help and a reference from you who know me. Do you think my Blog seriously has "explicit and implicit threats of violence" and "veiled threat of violence or even murder" or intimidating "individuals by making them feel unsafe and vulnerable to physical assaults"?


I will address this open letter on my blog, where I have posted it, item by item, in a couple of days.

I am terribly concerned that a few KAD's, in the "community of Korean Adoptees", Who Live in KOREA ONLY, are BEING TARGETED by "some people". These highly regarded individuals are true champions of service to the GLOBAL community of Korean Adoptees.


Fellow Colleague in This Thing of Ours-Adoption, Jane Jeong Trenka reported on the Korean Women's Development Institute Report last May 2009 on "Reviewing Issues on Unwed Mothers" which was co-sponsored by Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN)

Though Ms. Trenka and the KWB differ on 10-20% of the issues, we have continued professional contact on the BIG ISSUES and exchange of data ON ADOPTION not on the ELECTION at all.

Independently, using the Korean Women's Development Institute's own charts from the MOHWFA, Jane and some of members of TRACK (Truth and Reconciliation for Adoptee Community in Korea-

"TRACK is "Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea"

We are an organization advocating full knowledge of past and present Korean adoption practices to protect the human rights of adult adoptees, children, and families.

Well, just recently Ms. Trenka posted this on her blog Jane's Blog

She had discovered after fully translating the entire document from the KWDI's MAY 2009 report what the KWB first noticed months ago. THOUSANDS OF CIVIL CODE LAW adoptions ARE recorded, SURPRISE!!!


The truth may be stunning and shock most of us both here and abroad. The KWB had to depend on the English summary but discovered in the May 2009 KWDI Executive Summary that there may be almost DOUBLE numbers of CIVIL CODE LAW adoptions (TO Koreans AND "DUTCH DIPLOMATS"-Anyone can get a baby under this program!!! The DUTCH adoption was NOT InterCountry Adoption, folks but under Civil Code Law). LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR. The CIVIL CODE LAW Adoptions do Not come under DOMESTIC OR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION numbers. WHO IS HIDING the Civil Code Law Adoption numbers?



Reviewing Issues on Unwed Mothers' Welfare in Korea: Intercountry Adoption, Related Statistics, and Welfare Policies
in Developed Countries

There have been two tracks of laws for adopting children within Korea: Civil Code and Special Act relating to Promotion and Procedures of Adoption (hereafter SAPPA)...people are adopted according to Civil Code heavily influenced by traditional adoption practices. The government needed a new law enabling orphans to be adopted across the national border. The adoption practices by Civil Code are very different from SAPPA. Traditional motivation for adoption is to continue patriarchal family lineage. Family without a son used to adopt a child of relatives. The adopted child keeps maintaining relationship with and rights to inherit from biological parents. According to Civil Code, adoption is not limited to children. Adults and even the married can be adopted too. According to Civil Code, adoption contract is made by mutual agreement of adoptee and adoptive parents. Adoptee less than 15 needs permission from parents or legal guardian. Dissolution of adoptive relation is accorded by agreement of the two parties. Adoption based on Civil Code is far behind in protecting the welfare of adoptee children.

Under the influence of Confucian tradition, family bond and lineage have been strongly emphasized in Korea, which consequently affect adoption law and practices. Despite the new special act for adoption, many are not ready to adopt abandoned and relinquished children even when they want adoption. High proportion of domestic adoption is presumed to be done secretly. Many adoptive parents report their adopted child as their birth child to administrative office.
*****************************************************************
(This has been a TEACHING MOMENT)

KWB notes that PRIVATE adoption through CIVIL CODE Law has become MORE possible to keep SECRET, thus avoiding SHAME OF INFERTILITY, or to GUARANTEE THE SEX of the child. Recent laws allows INDIVIDUAL REGISTRY in the Hojeok system. Previously Adoptive Parents were forced to include the birth parents on the Hoju-Father's Family Registry.




The Korean War Baby stinks at Korean Language, you know I am only a VILLAGE FOOL. The sheer numbers Dwarf the "Domestic Adoptions" almost by double!!! Wonder if Korea can sign the Hague Convention on Adoption if they CONTINUE to allow SECRET adoptions where the child is NOT EVER TOLD that they have OTHER Birth Family members walking about the country.





Anyone, in the local Community of Korean Adoptees that is friendly with the KWB has been targeted by "Some people". Yet, it is through errors on their own part (Some People), that key documents and files have fallen into my hands from their own haste or Ooops factor.

"Wrongly accused of aiding and feeding information" to the KWB. These are people who has UNselfishly done MUCH MORE than the Korean War Baby, men and women of outstanding caliber, who I honor as champions of service to the GREATER ADOPTION COMMUNITY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. One individual has even NOT looked into his own case because his other siblings, who were adopted, might be jealous if HE found his own birth family. For those who do live in Korea we do have advantages.

Some have served daily, working overtime on adoptee's cases, because they are so dedicated. Do you know the low salary of STAFF working at GOA'L? I am ashamed to admit that though THEY work 40 to 50 hours a week AND yet they earn hardly enough to get by. Full time staff earned less than just (2) two of my businessmen-students pay me...and I only 'work' 16 hours compared to their average 45 plus hours. WE NEED TO GIVE THEM A RAISE!!

AND I will tell you even Secretary General Wenger was paid not much more. THE ENTIRE STAFF, including VOLUNTEERS from the KOREAN brothers and sisters have given their TIME, EFFORTS, sacrified making more MONEY, to help US, ALL of us, from every country in the WORLD that we have been sent to for adoption.

As you know, I am FOR a multi-tiered approach to This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Perhaps if SOME PEOPLE read my blog they would see WHY. A few lament, "WHY are you so angry"? Actually, I am outraged at the damn APATHY of the
silent majority. You read this- but DO NOTHING.


IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING TO KEEP GOA'L truly GLOBAL.

FOR many years Korean Volunteers and Korean Adoptees served side by side at GOA'L...they have given their Blood, sweat, and tears, literally and figuratively. SOME PEOPLE have sought to take over for their own what was created and has been maintained by adoptees FOR adoptees OVER THE GLOBE. I have not set out to destroy that which I love but to save it.

(Warning!! 'Cheap Political Thriller Theater' here!!)

BUT a great plague has come upon the land, creating a stench, creeping into the fibers and strong standards of the very core values of Global Overseas Adoptee's Link.


Note first: GLOBAL- Dear me, what ever does it mean to be Global?

Does it mean only American Korean Adoptees? We do number TWICE those of our European brothers and sisters by rough estimates. Doesn't it mean then ALL the countries, surely it DOES.

Yet, a few would seem to have different interpretations..."Community of Adoptees" a term used by an esteemed and learned (not being naughty, respect the degrees) individual who is adroit, sapient, and perspicacious- Well, I digress, as my great friend Nick would say.

Community of Adoptees DOES NOT mean YOU GUYS AND GALS who are not living in Seoul, Korea apparently. You know, you members of GLOBAL Overseas Adoptees' Link.



A great idea has flashed into the empty mind of the KWB:



Korean Adoptees Living in Korea

KADLinK

So, for all those Korean Adoptees living in Korea, go start your own Non-Government Organization, call it KADLinK. Be a member of ASK, TRACK, GOA'L, and KADLinK, but stay out of politics on for GOA'L.


Make KADLinK your own POLITICAL Vehicle, NOT the GLOBAL Overseas Adoptees Link!!! GOT THAT?
***********************************************************************

Dear readers, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to do what I have done. Googling people's names, checking the websites, intently searching for written work by others, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE DONE. I have over 3 thousand files, articles, links, on the subject and I am NO expert BUT the COMPLEXITY demands listening and hearing, being willing to compromise when facts are learned.


Several key documents were sent to so many people that when Concerned Citizens listed as Advisors to GOA'L, saw some curious things so THEY sent me copies. I received 2 or 3 copies from others. Major MISTAKES involved staff innocen
tly or covertly, even the KWB does not know for the email addresses were used once and discarded...Many have been sending such things to KWB. I will not reveal any sources.

WHY IS Mr. WENGER calling people and demanding to know if they are FEEDING ME INFORMATION. Doesn't he know that KWB is employing age old techniques of warfare?



"Create suspicion and confusion, maximize unease and doubts" such is the tenets of Psy Ops since the dawn of mankind. Even in the Bible, one can learn much on the art of war.

LET ME MAKE THIS CLEAR!!! No I don't have spies feeding me information, but I do have many in the WORLD WIDE Community of Korean Adoptees, and in the Community of KAD's currently living in the country. Bits and pieces of information, I have analyzed them, trying to discern what was going on. I may be wrong on somethings and would love to dialog with "Some People".

Anytime, and any place, 'bring it on' (OH DON'T WORRY, I will come unarmed in weaponry, with only my 2 years in Junior college- without even a degree- and an OVER Passionate Zeal. I will be armed with the Words of my mouth, simple not eloquent but will go 'toe to toe' on the matters at hand, This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

I ask for those of you who have read my blog and perhaps understand the "style of written hyperbole, with humorous photos, colorful and over-the-top style" writings of a "village fool" as artistic endeavors on my humble part- to teach others about This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Oh, please FORGIVE me if I have FRIGHTENED anyone.


Please let me know personally if you are also, threatened or scared of me. Any criticism of my style of writing or suggestions would be looked at carefully as I "reflect".


ON VIOLENT BEHAVIOR

You know, I will say this, my adoptive mother would have 'slapped me into tomorrow' if I ever laid hands violently on a woman. My Momma raised me to rescue dogs on the street (no comparisons here to women, sheesh), birds, cats, and she herself was slapped around by abusive men until she met my dear Father, Donald Graham BELL. Dad would never condone hitting a woman.

(Oh, dear!! my sister Lorelei might tell you of a couple times of veiled threats with my switchblade...Dad broke the blade and used a belt on me just that once.) Some people think "Spare the rod" but I believe a good stitch or smack on the butt is needed sometimes.


I have never threatened nor actually committed physical violence on any woman, nor have I struck a woman (Oh, I did punch one guy's girlfriend in her nose when I turned around she was trying to hit me with a bottle of Jack Daniels...BUT I was able to 'pull my punch' back in time to only hurt a little, the bottle bounced off my thick head-bar fight long ago).

I abhor those who beat, abuse, or mishandle any weaker person and think they also need professional counseling. HEY, I have gotten a lot for my own help, from the folks at Vineyard Christian Fellowship.

In 1985 I became a Christian and though I am not a great one, still dealing with ISSUES of my past let me make this CLEAR- I am restrained from violent behavior by a much greater force, THE LOVE OF GOD. Before that I was a terrible person, used women for sex, fought with anyone who angered me, I was a total mess. "But for the grace of God, go I" and I would be a total mess or dead by now.

Perhaps the European mindset does not understand or appreciate some of the more
American style things I have done on my blog. I do wish that I could violence sometimes, but that is totally out of the question, YES? Use of videos, photos, etc. are the "tools of the trade" to entertain with outrageously silly things but with the aim of getting SOME ideas across. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE DONE.

I ask for any reader for your imput and your advice on these matters, if you can spare a few minutes. We all have so much on our plates.
















I will reflect on everything you tell me;
but one thing I will not do is back off from stopping any group that want to stop any child from having a
chance at life. If at all possible with their natural mother- if she is willing to try to keep her baby;
or with a Korean family
within the country,
that will openly adopt not secretly;
or with ethnic Korean people including Korean Adoptees living in foreign lands...
Then finally any Blended family that has been properly vetted by authorities, allow THEM to adopt Trans-nationally and trans-racially.


Whew, that was tiring to say.




Love is not limited to biological relationship, and nothing is guaranteed in life. The issues are complex but there can be better ways found to help every child have a chance in this life.


I stand by what I have written on my blog EVEN my week of utter Madness, Slipping into DARKNESS. I HAVE NOT threatened with physical or mental violence in any way. Am I guilty of PASSION, YES.
But Here I stand, I will not be moved!!

If you have some time in your busy life, please give me your short or long response.

Sincerely,

Don Gordon BELL

The Korean War Baby


"I am not Scary, I'm just drawn that way."

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