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 21, 2010

Stepanie Drenka-my arrival from korea

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Stephanie Drenka, boldly facing and sharing all the issues we all face.
Expressing through her videos, blog, the joys, the pains, of our lives.
She is in her mid-twenties, one of the third generation of KAD's.

And just like ME, the Korean War Baby.
Oddly we share the SAME DAY-Month of Departure Day
May 21st-Stephanie arrived on the same day that she left Korea.
On 21 May, 1986.
The Korean War Baby's group left 21 May, 1956
WOW, thirty years apart, and we have met online.

"A Village Fool tries Rational Thinking"

No one rational would say that taking a child from it's mother is best. However, Life is full of unfortunate and horrible circumstances. Over the years the reasons for children being sent Overseas for adoption have changed. Korean Society has shifted greatly but in some areas not enough.

Thousands (1-4) of Korean woman Chose to ABORT today. The Laws are not exact and some 'reasons' may be spurious or simply the woman not wanting to have a child at this time of her life, if she is single she would 'ruin' her life.

We must understand that women may be victims of Rape or Incest, Doctors may inform them that there is medical reasons, OTC drugs may be blamed, Or physical deformities seen or assumed. Policies change and fluctuate wildly even affecting the cost of abortions.

Presently the Cost of abortions is causing some from lower income to go to China. Over 95% of Unwed Mothers are under mid-twenties, these young women like others before, face huge pressures. They were rejected by the bio-father, their own family threw them out. Enormous social pressures can make it almost impossible. Yet last year the percentage of Unwed Mother KEEPING their babies rose to 37%!!!
The Times they are a changing.


BUT, another 63% chose to give up their babies for Adoption. They also have a right to do this. NO ONE IS FORCING THEM. For every ONE child that was sent abroad, there were THREE babies adopted in Korea by Koreans. Korea is adopting more of it's own but not ALL.

They do not want many, for various reasons there are always "leftover children"
Sorry, that is life, what many Adoptees seek to find out-WHY? What was the reason?
Some of us may never do a homeland tour, some don't want to be reminded that they aren't "white". Some have come here many times, and a few have settled in for teaching or making a living.

Yes, we may have been sent away or adopted into homes secretly in country, For those of us who were OVERSEAS, KAD's, most were able to find Other Families who Did want us. Families that are NOT robbing or tearing apart another family. Not every Adoptive family was great, Bad things happen to all families, divorce, death, etc.

But for we who were ADOPTED into foreign lands, we lost much, but gained as well what we may never had had in Korea. Growing up in orphanages then out on your own. This was the experience of thousands who were NOT adopted at all.

Sent abroad we were mostly the Unwanted, Rejected by our people, government, family, even our mothers in many cases. There are also tragic cases of being sent
away by family members because of the shame and "losing face". The stories form a panorama of the Spectrum of life.

This is our legacy, what we must work through with help. Adoption was not perfect, and some of us had to deal with many issues. Many of us have returned, many have visited the Agencies or orphanages, meeting foster families, Eating Korean food and 'getting a taste' of our homeland.

Only 2,400 have "Found" their birth families with mixed results. We wonder why so few, yet the culture of Korea is still changing, slowly. We see some stars openly adopting yet 98% of Civil Code Law and Domestic adoptions are completely done in SECRET.

Thousands of women in Korea have given birth to children,
AND GIVEN THEM UP. Estimates could be up to 450,000 Korean women.
The COLLECTIVE pain of these women!!!! The SILENT HAN they must endure. If they were to release their tears at once it might flood cities.


This Thing of Ours-Adoption



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