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 1, 2010

Stolen from “My Spy”-T.R.A.C.K.’s Jane Jeong Trenka

spy-vs-spy-vs-spy The Korean War Baby has employed SPIES throughout the World, feeding him bits and pieces of KEY DATA, circumstantial evidence, Documents that are sent *CARBON COPY by mistake; This vast Network is helping the KWB by keeping tabs on the people, issues, news, rumors, etc.

“It takes a village” someone once said. Contact the KWB if YOU have any information that might help create a clearer picture in-

THIS THING OF OURS-ADOPTION

********************************************

THIS HAS BEEN “Shamelessly Stolen” from Jane’s Blog:

May 2009 KUMSN booklet

Posted on April 30, 2010 by jjtrenka

My words in pink and my translation of Korean again, corrections welcome. Read booklet mostly in Korean, with English summary, by clicking on: May 2009 KUMSN

090828_kumsn_kwdi_report2


Jane’s words:


Note: In places where it says 친 in Korean, I translate as “real” because that’s the way Koreans have translated it to me. The way it is used in Korean doesn’t really translate because it’s kind of like a prefix, but I suppose Americans would say “natural” or “biological” (which is also offensive to various listeners). Sorry for the language; I hope you get the nugget of what is trying to be expressed even though my translation kind of sucks.






(page 15)0

2. The Adoption of Korean Children

A. Domestic Adoption Practice Custom and System

One can point out that the reason why the overseas adoption of Korean children reached the largest scale in the world is because of Korea’s custom of adopting children with blood ties. In Korean traditional society, adoption of children within the blood ties relationship exists to carry on the family line, so regular people’s accommodation for the protection and adoption of children without blood relationships was low. Due to this reason of the emphasis on blood ties there were many difficulties in Korean society in accepting the adoption for children who had became orphans through the war.

During the Choson Dynasty, adoptions of especially blood-related nephews was common, and the purpose was to carry on the house’s family line. The legislation of adoption outside of the blood relationship was carried out under Japanese colonization in 1938. From 1939 when the orphan adoption special law was established until 1961, 4,491 people were adopted domestically as shown by the nation’s records. (Lee Sam-dol) aka Tobias Hubinette. (Note to self: this contradicts what I was told by the lawyer last week, who said that Korean law under the Japanese was the same as Korean tradition and people were still adopting relatives that way. So either my translation here is wrong or this paper is wrong. Note to self: pay for the full copy of the law even though you thought you couldn’t read it before and it would be useless, because more fact-checking must be done!)

In Korea there became two ways to regulate adoption according to the law: the civil law and the special adoption law. In 2008, through the (real child) 친양자 system that was introduced, the one method was supplemented.

footnote 2) In 2008, the family register that held specific personal information that was put into the family register according to patriarchal ideology about the family’s composition of relationship, birth, marrage and divorce, adoption, etc., disappeared. Instead of the family register, an individual record that shows the birthdate, events of marriage and family relationship was introduced Jan. 1, 2008.

The (real child) 친양자 system is on the behalf of recognizing the adopted child having been born in wedlock. If the adoption is established, the biological parents and the biological relatives and inheritance relationship ends, and the adoptive parents legally form a biological parent relationship and the adoptive father’s family name and hometown are followed. The establishment of the (real child) 친양자 system can see with acceptance the reality of the adoptive parents who want to hide the truth of the adoption.

(p16) In the civil law, in the basic regular adoption there is no age regulation on the adoptee, and depending the adopted child’s age, agreement for and proceedings for a real child relationship can be requested by the related parties. Real child adoption is possible when the adopted child is under 15 years old and legal consent is gotten from the real father and mother if they are surviving. It is mostly children in institutions whose real parents have abandoned them that the special law is used for in domestic adoption. (변용찬외, 1999).

Our country’s civil adoption system was revised in 1990 from “위가양자 및 위친 양자” (“do house adopted son and do real adopted son”) changing to a manner of “위자양자,” (do child adopted child) and a secondary contract adopted child is becoming the center (유병창, 2001). In regular adoption the person who becomes the real child agrees and makes the adoption registration and the adoption process is simple.

However, in the case of special adoption law, they have to go to court first and then adopt in order to strictly determine about the child and the real parents. When compared to the civil law, the special law has strict regulations of the real parents’ qualifications/requirements, but we know that the parents’ interest in the child’s welfare is more important for raising the child than the parents’ position or their household.

In our society there has been traditional adoption for a long time for the major purpose of continuing the family line through adopting a blood relationship. But outside of that there isn’t yet openly adoption of children. There is a lot of difficulty to recognize members of the family who are not real members who are adopted outside the family line because of the stress on bloodlines and traditional family culture of blood relations. (권지성, 2003). Because the family members’ bloodline is taken seriously, even if people adopt, there are many cases of “secret adoption” in which the adoption is made up to look like the child was born to the parents. (권지성, 2003; 변용찬외, 1999).

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Blood relative biology-online.org

“a relative of a person sharing some of the sources from which genes are derived. These will include many of the genes that operate in the blood and its constituents but no special importance attaches to the blood as a vehicle of inheritance.”

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In 1993, according to one research based on on the actual condition of adoption agencies, 17.4% of the domestic adoptions that were done publicly and of the domestic adoptions the rate of adoptions registered as 친자 (real child) reached 97.9% (정기원 김만지, 1993). There are many cases of adopted children registered as real children as the method to avoid prejudice against adoption.

p.17

Secret adoption is accomplished by going outside the adoption agency or adopting illegally (권지성, 2003; 배태순, 1995; 변용찬외, 1999). ObGyns or midwife-like agencies that prefer secret adoptions illegally intervene to make individual adoptions and there are even instances where the adoptive parents engage in secret adoption through help by the adoption agencies (배태순, 1995).

In domestic adoptions 95% of parents only want to adopt newborn babies less than 5 months old and there is a connection between the preference for adopting newborns and secret adoption (배태순, 1989). People who are choosing to adopt because of sterility face social prejudice about sterility and adoption so to protect themselves from these two facts and hide everything they want to secretly adopt a healthy newborn (배태순, 1998).

According to the special adoption law, the effect of adoption on the family register law (3) takes effect through the reporting, and if it is wanted then the adopted children can be registered with the family names and hometowns of their adoptive parents. (배태순, 1998). In this instance adoptive parents who don’t want a trace left in the record of the fact of the adoption register their adopted child as a real child on the hojuk.(4) Many domestic adoptions break the law and are secret (배태순, 1998), this is the result appearing because of the combination of the special adoption law, the emphasis on bloodline and the family culture.

Another problem point arising from secret adoption, as it is, is that it’s hard to provide welfare and post adoption support. Adopted children fundamentally want to know their biological descent and one’s roots and understanding the process of separating from one’s real parents are important for identity formation (Etter, 1993).

It’s a big burden for adoptive parents to keep the adoption secret, and in the future at the time when the adoptee finds out through a third party, the emotional shock is a problem point and difficulty for secret adoption. (KWB-Gee, YOU THINK SO?)

3) Follows the family relationship registration law starting in Jan 2008 due to the abolition of the hojuje system.

4) Since the hojuje system was abolished in 2008, the identification relationship record XX family relationship registration XX (신분관계 서류로서 가족관계등록부가) was substituted for the hojuk.

p. 18

In our country, there is a connection between the birth registration system and the possibility of registering the adopted child as one’s real born child. A hospital birth certificate of a child born at a hospital is can be used to register at the government office, but it is also possible to register a child born at home just by two people vouching. Because of this reason,[ legal registration after birth does not become a temporary bump; in the long-term] it is possible for a child who cannot carry legally registered papers of their identity and family relationship to exist in our society.

[I'm really not sure about this last part in brackets. Anyone with a better translation, please tell!]

–end of this section–

******************************************************************

YOU SEE!!!???

The Korean War Baby did not just make this up...Networking is reading what EVERYONE is doing.

The KWB wonders IF Super-Brain Scholars Types have Read this report?

Perhaps SOME PEOPLE could let us know if they

give a shit Care about all the

IN-COUNTRY KOREAN ADOPTEES…


Comments:

Jane Jeong Trenka said...

Don, my Korean reading level is low, but it seems to me that "secret adoption" is not even legal. Therefore of course, we should not support illegal practices.

If the Koreans themselves decided that it's illegal but they are still doing it, then they need better enforcement of their own laws. They need to foster an environment of family preservation first and ethical adoption and alternative means of childcare second. That is what our law does. Our adoption law revision bill expands the definition of children who are able to be adopted legally and ethically. Of course if the adopters still insist on going through illegal means, our law that doesn't help, but the point is that even Korean law does not agree with secret adoption. It is up to the Korean society to get over themselves and live up to their own standards, and foster an environment that encourages that.

I can't write anything more intelligent than that right now because I'm up to my eyeballs in tags.

BTW in 2008 the Korean Statistical office did a poll asking why people wouldn't want to adopt. They gave these choices:

1. Don't feel necessity 62.1%
2. Economic burden 20.1%
3. Social prejudice against child 5.8%
4. Origin of child not reliable 8%
5. Possible to be hurt by adopted child 3%
6. Other 1%


Hope you had a good anniversary.

Don Gordon Bell said...

Thank you Jane, Very Interesting stuff here. Hope after the Honeymoon we can share notes. I will be going on Friday at KWDI.

The Polls is very interesting as well. Less than 20% had issues with prejudice, bloodlines, but the "hurt by adopted child 3% is just too Funny.

Don Gordon Bell said...

On "Secret Adoption" being legal, well it IS LEGAL now because the Individual Registration now makes it possible since 2007. Did you notice a sudden BUMP in the number of Domestic adoptions in 2007 and 2008 records? The "unknown" children of Unwed mothers decreased to a third because now they could easily adopt a child SECRETLY.

The changed law made it easier to do 'In secret' DE FACTO. Illegal is meaningless. Majority of Korean people don't want to Preserve Families, and the same NEED for a child is part of the LOCAL DEMAND.

We have a long way to go, and the FACTS are that In-Country is about 3 times more than Exports.

Jane Jeong Trenka said...

Secret (bilmil) adoption is illegal. There is no paperwork for that because it is secret and completely outside the law. Chinyangja adoption, which you are referencing regarding the papers, is legal. It is much like the way we were adopted. I verified my reading comprehension yesterday. Regards -

Don Gordon Bell said...

Jane, The point is it seems that "Secret" is legally allowed by permitting the adoption in Civil Code Law and 'legalizing' the child into a family registry with the INDIVIDUAL registry. As long as Civil Code Law LEGALLY allows a child to be included on the Husband's Family Registry
"With NO difference between biological and adopted" then it is LEGAL TO BE SECRET.

No matter the fine line, Civil Code Law does exist and even the "Domestic adoption" is also done in SECRET. This is done for the "embarrassment and protection of family and child" because of the Society's prejudices.

Question is how to change the minds and hearts of Korean Society, when the laws go along with these fears and prejudices. It seems that the number of "Chinyangja adoption" outnumber the other but under Civil Code Law what does the court do to show WHERE the child comes from?

We must work together to expose the Civil Code Law adoptions, ALL of them, as they are also, AGAINST THE NATURAL/BIRTH MOTHER AND CHILD'S RIGHTS. Is this not something TRACK and ASK could also agree with?

What matters is Preservation of Family, correct? But most of the time, I only hear about the EXPORTED Overseas adoptions. All who are Adopted IN-COUNTRY, whether by Domestic figures, or Civil Code Law, AND the ones to be EXPORTED have similar issues.

I feel that a CHILD has the RIGHT to know BY LAW that they were adopted. PERIOD.

5 comments:

  1. Don, my Korean reading level is low, but it seems to me that "secret adoption" is not even legal. Therefore of course, we should not support illegal practices.

    If the Koreans themselves decided that it's illegal but they are still doing it, then they need better enforcement of their own laws. They need to foster an environment of family preservation first and ethical adoption and alternative means of childcare second. That is what our law does. Our adoption law revision bill expands the definition of children who are able to be adopted legally and ethically. Of course if the adopters still insist on going through illegal means, our law that doesn't help, but the point is that even Korean law does not agree with secret adoption. It is up to the Korean society to get over themselves and live up to their own standards, and foster an environment that encourages that.

    I can't write anything more intelligent than that right now because I'm up to my eyeballs in tags.

    BTW in 2008 the Korean Statistical office did a poll asking why people wouldn't want to adopt. They gave these choices:

    1. Don't feel necessity 62.1%
    2. Economic burden 20.1%
    3. Social prejudice against child 5.8%
    4. Origin of child not reliable 8%
    5. Possible to be hurt by adopted child 3%
    6. Other 1%


    Hope you had a good anniversary.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Jane, Very Interesting stuff here. Hope after the Honeymoon we can share notes. I will be going on Friday at KWDI.

    The Polls is very interesting as well. Less than 20% had issues with prejudice, bloodlines, but the "hurt by adopted child 3% is just too Funny.

    ReplyDelete
  3. On "Secret Adoption" being legal, well it IS LEGAL now because the Individual Registration now makes it possible since 2007. Did you notice a sudden BUMP in the number of Domestic adoptions in 2007 and 2008 records? The "unknown" children of Unwed mothers decreased to a third because now they could easily adopt a child SECRETLY.

    The changed law made it easier to do 'In secret' DE FACTO. Illegal is meaningless. Majority of Korean people don't want to Preserve Families, and the same NEED for a child is part of the LOCAL DEMAND.

    We have a long way to go, and the FACTS are that In-Country is about 3 times more than Exports.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Secret (bilmil) adoption is illegal. There is no paperwork for that because it is secret and completely outside the law. Chinyangja adoption, which you are referencing regarding the papers, is legal. It is much like the way we were adopted. I verified my reading comprehension yesterday. Regards -

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jane, The point is it seems that "Secret" is legally allowed by permitting the adoption in Civil Code Law and 'legalizing' the child into a family registry with the INDIVIDUAL registry. As long as Civil Code Law LEGALLY allows a child to be included on the Husband's Family Registry
    "With NO difference between biological and adopted" then it is LEGAL TO BE SECRET.

    No matter the fine line, Civil Code Law does exist and even the "Domestic adoption" is also done in SECRET. This is done for the "embarrassment and protection of family and child" because of the Society's prejudices.

    Question is how to change the minds and hearts of Korean Society, when the laws go along with these fears and prejudices. It seems that the number of "Chinyangja adoption" outnumber the other but under Civil Code Law what does the court do to show WHERE the child comes from?

    We must work together to expose the Civil Code Law adoptions, ALL of them, as they are also, AGAINST THE NATURAL/BIRTH MOTHER AND CHILD'S RIGHTS. Is this not something TRACK and ASK could also agree with?

    What matters is Preservation of Family, correct? But most of the time, I only hear about the EXPORTED Overseas adoptions. All who are Adopted IN-COUNTRY, whether by Domestic figures, or Civil Code Law, AND the ones to be EXPORTED have similar issues.

    I feel that a CHILD has the RIGHT to know BY LAW that they were adopted. PERIOD.

    ReplyDelete

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