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 14, 2010

Tuigi-Devil Child? Updated ProfileKWB


"Tuigi" born to a Korean woman and a "foreign Devil" but by adoption I am now a Child of GOD.

TuiGi or 튀기- Korean people called me a "Child of a devil" but I am now a Child of God

The KWB was born during the Korean War and given up for adoption by his Korean Mother. He and his sister discovered late in life that they were actually Really biological siblings. We were in the first early flights to the land of our American father.
He grew up in Southern California, uneventful, then served in Vietnam with the US Marines; enjoyed a "career in B-movies"; worked in many construction jobs; drifting most of his life; then in 1995 he arrived in Seoul.


Teaching English and helping Korean people to understand about This Thing of Ours-Adoption. It is his hope to help change Korean people's attitudes concerning Adoptees and Adoption with more openness and acceptance, for Civil & Domestic Adoptees and Overseas Adoptees.
"We are all like a brotherhood."
Overseas adoptees had both Trans-Racial and Cultural challenges, and some of our lives have been confusing and difficult, many have adjusted quite well. There are a myriad stories from terrible to wonderful. It is a Spectrum of life, reflecting all that is good and bad, no one has the only "Voice" of the whole. He thinks we all need to listen to each other, and find consensus.


In Korea we lived, when millions were aborted, a 'perfect solution'  (Please NOTE: Painful Sarcasm Alert) to unwanted pregnancy or sex selection. Abortion in the Republic of Korea continues to be used as a contraception option. These are uncontested FACTS- many women are forced to choose by circumstances, lack of support from "biological sperm donors" (Father is a Non Sequitur-it "does not follow logic")  OR are just not ready to be a mother.

These young women are left on their OWN by 'boyfriend', their own family, government's lack of services, few NGO's, and abandoned by society to make this 'choice' almost completely ON THEIR OWN.

Many, many "fertility/women's clinics" can be found in every city of Korea, whose main business is abortions. An early abortions (Search 'abortion' with Lijit on Left Column) may cost from 35 to 50 US Dollars and OB/GYN doctors who rebelled against the 'so-called illegal abortions' report that the national number is close to 4,000 PER DAY. They are open seven days a week, no questions asked, no real age limit required. The KWB believes that a young woman should be shown ALL options before she makes her final Choice, as she will personally live with THAT DECISION all her life.

It is commonly reported that FIFTY PERCENT of Korean women have had AT LEAST ONE ABORTION, and of those one third had more than two. The KWB has personally met dozens of women in counseling with his American wife who had 3, 4, 5, even 6 abortions in order to have a SON. Yes, this is changing but slowly. More than half of the couples surveyed still consider a son VITAL, and the percentage on single child families with BOYS far outnumber the families with GIRLS.

In 2007, Unwed single women gave birth to children. KWDI (Korean Women's Development Institute) reports 7,774 estimated 31.7% of women kept 2,464 children to raise on their own. For 2,296 children who were sadly relinquished by their mothers for adoption, the numbers are almost evenly split Half domestic/ half InterCountry.

2464 + 2246 + 3014 = 7774

What of the 3,014 remaining? They are called 'Unknown' but it can be assumed that they are "CIVIL Code Law" Adoptions, that are not in government figures! Court records almost TRIPLE the numbers each year of the OFFICIAL "Domestic" adoptions. At a recent KWDI forum in Feb. 2010, every panelist member bemoaned that "No one knows the number of Civil Code Law adoptions", YET IT IS IN THEIR REPORT. I pointed that out to the President of KWDI that everyone agreed on the problems but no one seemed to have solutions.

Estimates are that 97.8% of Civil Code Law AND "Domestic" Adoptions are SECRETLY done.


 Society's beliefs are still very strong, difficult to change. Yet, change comes slowly, hopefully some of you will see the hearts and minds of Korean society accept that a child can be loved and adopted. Those children are also growing up with some finding out about the SECRET.

How do they "DEAL WITH THAT?" Maybe the KADLinKs (Korean ADoptees Living in Korea) could help them work out the issues of Adoption Identity? Aren't we almost like brothers and sisters, and who else but Korean Domestic Adoptees can understand Adoption better...Hmmm?

 The Domestic Adoptees grew up within their own country and Ethnic groups, but even recent reports demonstrate that many In-Country Domestic Adoptees have discovered that they were secretly ADOPTED. Ask Ron Morgan of the Late Discovery Adoptees about those issues.

"Who, What happened, WHY? Have I walked past my mother on the streets of Seoul?" These questions haunt them just like International adoptees, do they not? I have personally met now 5 Korean Domestic/Civil Code Law adoptees who still cannot tell openly that "I was adopted".

This is monstrously wrong, talk about Human Rights for the Child, this is absolutely hideous and does not acknowledge the primal wounds of separation that almost all adopted children go through. Yes, even those who are living in their "birth country" as a dirty open little secret that most older extended family members KNOW. If it is learned that a Korean was adopted there are a huge majority of Koreans who would call off the wedding plans.

**********************************************************
THESE ARE FACTS...Dr. Kim Su Rasmussen and Dr. Eli Park Sorensen, What say you about these matters...do KADLinKs have nothing to do with the thousands of Domesic and Civil Code Law Adoptees? You have never acknowledged in your writings or our own discussions between us about the plight of these "Kindred Spirits". Dr. Eli Park Sorensen helped to develop the plot, er plan to "take over by democratic means" former GLOBAL Overseas Adoptees' Link. But he resides outside the motherland, writes against the "adoption industry" and is a staunch member of the AAAA. I welcome his response and would publish either of their responses in Totality...with my own comments in a separate posting.

Please, Dr. Kim Su Rasmussen, you sent an OPEN LETTER, and I have OPENLY RESPONDED. Where is your Counter Rebuttal? Why do you not answer on the legitimacy of the Election of 27 March 2010? Did "YOU sign off" on the "Final Report of the AGM"?
*****************************************************
In the past and present, 60-70% of Koreans will only adopt 'blood relations' and secretly. Officially, so called "Domestic" Adoptees number over 87,000 (This does not count Civil Code Law adoptions which could exceed all estimates and actually be almost DOUBLE the "Domestic" number)- yet 97.8% are NOT told that they were adopted due to the shame of adoption. This ought NOT to be BUT IT IS WHAT IT IS.

Inconvenient Truths held by our mother's people, but it will take a prolonged campaign to change their hearts. Stopping InterCountry or Overseas Adoptions is not enough!!! Shame has not worked, rather more open stories are necessary like those of KUMSN or Momma Mia organizations that highlight the plights and struggles of Unwed Mothers who valiantly defy society, family, government prejudice to overcome and raise their children. There are huge numbers of Korean mothers who have KEPT their children. Approximately 55,000 Unwed Mother HAVE KEPT their children! Check the facts, don't believe the KWB.

We see some promising changes coming in Adoption Law Revision (This will NOT effect CIVIL CODE LAW ADOPTIONS). BUT Changing Laws does not change Hearts of the people.

This is "What it IS", plain and ugly, simple facts.

Everyday in 2007, these numbers: Twenty (21) children were born alive Daily, but 4,000 aborted EVERYDAY.........Inconvenient truth? Damn Right! Maybe we ARE 'LUCKY' to be born alive. Know that some had that terminology but it is incredible odds 4,000 to 21 = 190 "Terminated human fetus" to one Born Alive. Gee! Can we call this "Lucky to be born?"

The KWB does not have all the answers. He is willing to listen to all and seek answers. But some will argue extreme positions that make NO SENSE. Extreme and irrational views must be balanced with realities. Let us reason and work together to find a Balanced Multi-level plan of action. We must work with all to come to a better solution.

We are the Korean Adoptee Diaspora (Scattered). Many of us long to discover our roots and Self-Identity. Many cannot or DO NOT desire to go "beyond Culture Camps". How many of us can become KADLinK (Korean ADoptees Living in Korea)? They are just the few who CHOOSE to do that and are ABLE, and it is those of us like the KWB, who are meeting with "Real Koreans" everyday and sharing our stories. Many CANNOT OR DON'T desire to come and live in the motherland. We all must do our own thing. In the year 2009 it is estimated that 5,000 KAD's visited the country. Less than 500 live here for more than 3 months. Not all are disgruntled or angry, some of us are damn glad we WERE adopted.

To educate the Korean People! That is why the KWB has stayed, though everyday he faces a bit of rejection because of his "unKorean face".

In the 15 years he has lived here though he has told his story to thousands of students, parents, teachers, church members, etc.


"Mixed-Blood" has always made me feel like a Divided Person, Half Asian-Half somthing. Since DNA testing helped to establish Bio-Father's ethnicity the KWB has also come to understand the Institution of Adoption, celebrating his Scottish Identity from his Adoption. He is a Multi-Cultural S.O.B. thank you!!"

"Take No Shit!!"




 
Each of us visiting, working, and living, do our share in putting a "FACE" to adoption. Let us also help to bring Korean Society to view Adoption as GOOD, not just bad.

There are many reasons that 63% of Unwed Mothers in 2009 GAVE UP for ADOPTION their children. For every child adopted Overseas there are THREE adopted In the Country.

Crib for children in process for a home SOMEWHERE, inside Korea or 'exported', pure chance on where one goes. Life is a 'crap shoot'.



All Korean Adoptees, even our secretly adopted Domestic brethren, all need to find out "Who am I". Adoption Identity has different meanings to each individual.

Most have found loving families, though some have faced further loss from life's many situations. A few have suffered abuse, wrongful separation from birth family. There are stories of sexual or mental abuse, of Adoptive parents who have difficulty understanding the issues Transracially adopted children have had.

The movie "Adopted" delves into many of the issues that Transracial Adoptees face with some parents. "We Can Do Better" is a DVD that comes with the movie that is a MUST for all involved in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

We must all be open to each other, hear all sides, find better ways to prevent possible abuses, most of all to find our own personal Self-Identity...and peace.

The journey of Self-Identity is difficult, emotional, stressful, and some may never find all the "answers". We who were Adopted must walk our own paths and sharing our stories can help all members of "This Thing of Ours-Adoption".

The "first" generation of KAD's from the 40's (yes like Sen. Paull Shin of Washington State Senate) and the 50's are now in our late fifties and sixties, grandparents now. Young KADs are coming in their 18 to their twenties, seeking their own Adoption Identity. Three generations and it continues...

The reasons for our adoptions changed over the years but still everyday babies are born and given up, children are abandoned for physical, mental, and just the crap reasons of life-divorce, separation of parents, death, etc.

It took some countries years to no longer have a "supply" of children for adoption, such as Australia. Yet throughout the world there are millions of children who have been "single or Double" orphaned, needing homes. The supply and the demand will always be with us.

Preventing abuses and malpractices are the main goals, but the Korean War Baby supports a multi-tierred approach to Adoption. This seems logical and practical, acceptable to all. Can't we all work out a compromise, without hatred or ignoring each other?

Can't we all get along? Hopefully, most of us ARE willing and able. Let's work together.

2 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 23, 2010

    Ahhh. and you continue to fight the good fight.

    see, your sister does, check in....

    Lorelei

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ahh, Sister, that is good to hear. Hope all is well. Fighting ignorance is so tiring, but hopefully SOME do get it.

    Big Brother

    ReplyDelete

Skype