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.


June 7, 2010

About We Can Do Better | Adoption Stories from Adopted the Movie

The Korean War Baby believes that the film “Adopted” the movie is a very relevant and powerful feature film that tackles the complex issues in Trans-National Adoption. Watch these excerpts from the Companion DVD “We Can Do Better”, remember to keep an open mind and compare your own ‘Adoption Story’. How did you adapt to some of the issues to get by?
The Cross-Cultural or Trans-National Adoption requires Adoptive Parents that can deal with all the issues. In the past there were not many guidelines for Parents adopting from other countries. Did you have similar issues, and where are YOU in coming to find your Adoption Identity? This DVD is something that hopefully would help NEW Adoptive Parents to help their own “blended” families cope with the complex issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.
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About We Can Do Better Adoption Stories from Adopted the Movie
In the companion DVD, We Can Do Better, a who’s-who of the adoption community offers wisdom and advice to help today’s adoptive families. With 30-minute sessions on clarifying parental intentions, establishing identity, parenting a mixed-race family, grieving, and navigating the politics of adoption, We Can Do Better cuts right to the heart of the issues deeply embedded in the rewarding, but complex journey of adoption. See below for details on each of the five sessions and links to watch excerpts.
Session I: Intentions Behind Adopting
This 20-minute session includes interviews with adoptive parents and adoption psychologists and social workers about what drives people to adopt. Whether it’s due to infertility, a calling from God, a desire to have a particular gender or race of child, or a combination of reasons, parents and experts encourage pre-adoptive individuals or couples to honestly assess their intentions so they can learn how to put the child’s needs first.
Download the video or Purchase the DVD set

Session II: Parenting the Adopted Child
This 35-minute session includes interviews with adoptive parents, psychologists and pediatricians about some of the unique issues adopted children may face including Attachment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, developmental delays, and grief–over the loss of a birth parent and/or birth culture. The session also looks at how biological and adopted siblings interact.
Download the video or Purchase the DVD set
Session III: The MultiRacial Family
This 25-minute session asks adoptive parents to think about whether they really can, and should be, colorblind when it comes to their non-white, adopted child. Interviews with adoptees, parents and psychologists reveal the importance of addressing both race and culture with the child, acknowledging that racism and stereotypes still exist, believing children when they report instances of racial prejudice, and realizing that children often won’t tell their parents about everything that happens at school.
Download the video or Purchase the DVD set
Session IV: Identity for the Transracial Adoptee

This 25-minute session features interviews with adult adoptees who stress the importance of parents helping their children develop a strong sense of racial identity and self-esteem. Suggestions include bringing other adult people of color into their lives as role models, seeking out schools, communities or social situations where whites are not a strong majority, and understanding the struggles and confusion transracial adoptees might have. The session also includes advice and explanations from psychologists about why a strong racial identity is crucial for transracial adoptees.
Download the video or Purchase the DVD set
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Go over these videos, discuss them with your own Adoptive Siblings or the entire family. It may be that you are now in your late teens or twenties, thirties, etc. but it is never too late to PROCESS what has been, and work through how you were affected.
What is important is the NOW, how you can take information and find healing for yourself, your Adoptive family relationships, even how you deal with life in your present marriage.
Don’t wait too long, or you will be like the Korean War Baby…looking backwards on so many failures of relationships, plans, desires.
Aiigoo. Too late, Too late. Seek understanding, find healing. For your own sake, for the lives of those you love around you.

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