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.

July 11, 2010

Don Gordon Bell « “I Am Korean American” site.

Traveling through the cyberspace one day I came across this site.
Don Gordon Bell « I Am Korean American
I am a Korean-American” and at that time I was pondering just what does it mean to be Korean-American or any other HYPHEN-American. Help other and yourself by first checking other short bios then Submit your Adoption Story. It will help you sort out WHERE you are at in working through your Adoption Identity.

Submit Your Adoption Story

I have come to realize that as a TRUE AMERICAN when I was first a child in elementary school I had to fight for my IDENTITY because SOME PEOPLE’S CHILDREN just don’t get it. Yes, I got SOME kidding about being Oriental (back in the 1950’s!!) but there were Negro kids (Again this was a good word and some said “Colored child”- better than the N-word) and some Mexican kids in my school. America is a MELTING POT but this kind of stuff just happened.
I never remember “thinking I was WHITE” because I always got the “What ARE you?” or “Are you Oriental, Japanese…Chinese?”. NEVER EVER heard “Are you Korean”, so I told them “My Story” etc. NO BIG DEAL.

Now there are always those “ten percenters” who never get the MEMO that it ain’t cool to be prejudice. What I learned as a young boy was I had to stand up for my rights, and if I got knocked down by a bigger kid I got back up again and kept attacking…I earned respect. NOW, now, you think…I must need HELP, psychotherapeutic counseling ( thank u spell checker), and so forth. NAY. I be fine. Now I have always been for the underdog and stood by anyone who was picked on by bullies.

SOME PEOPLE have thought that I, the Korean War Baby have threatened SOME WOMEN Adoptees who just happened to be AAAA (Anti-Adoption Adoptees Associates). Why I have never even hit whores that robbed me, YES, in the past I was quite a BAD PERSON and frequently PAID for SEX though most of the time I ‘worked for it’. In fact I paid MORE than other guys because I thought my own Korean mother had been a prostitute. NOW, I have information that makes me believe that ‘OLMA’ was instead a girlfriend of my Birth Father and stayed with him over Three years. BUT I digress.

bitch_slap I HAVE NEVER physically threatened any WOMAN. Stupid FOOLS may twist my words and blog post photos meaning but they are full of SHIT, DONG, MANURE, DOG DOO DOO. Please, look carefully, you will not see any threats of PHYSICAL harm.
Don’t you just love this kid?

From the time I learned Judo from a Japanese friend and all through my years of Martial Arts training (TaeKwonDo, KajuKembo, Uechi-Ryu, weapons, etc) I have maintained the basic principals of Bushido and the disciplines that I learned from all my teachers.


Under all of my Instructors I gained by teaching the younger brother/sister students. When you have to TEACH you must learn it completely. It is not just techniques but the SPIRIT of Bushido, the Way of the Warrior is in the MIND first…then the Spirit, finally the Body. Mind, Spirit, and Body all must be ONE, but without the Inner Mind developing a strong BASE, the rest will never come. Most are impatient and focus only on the physical elements and have no time for the Inner Mind training. This comes only with the few who seek the Art in Martial Arts.

bell07_KickingI have seen young men with great technical ability, blazing speed and power- all aspects of the Yang energy, BUT they LACKED the discipline to study the YIN elements of the Mind and Spirit. Those who study only the physical can be defeated by one who has trained in the INNER MIND and SPIRIT aspects of Oriental Martial Arts.

Seven Virtures of Bushido

bushido-signsGi: Justice. Deciding the proper course of conduct.
Yuu: Courage. Courage is doing what is right.
Jin: Benevolence, love, and magnanimity.
Rei: Politeness, courtesy, etiquette, and manners.
Makoto: Sincerity, and truthfulness.
Meiyo: Honor, pride, and glory.
Chuugi: Loyalty and devotion.


Study the Art


With some serious training from a teacher who understands his students they can develop the WILL to stand up for themselves. I have seen young students after just a few months of training gain confidence, not from learning twenty kicks and punches. It is because they have gained Confidence and their willingness to fight.
This is the ONE who will not acknowledge defeat, will not stay down, but will struggle to his feet again and again. THIS ONE will not give up because he will NOT take shit No WAY, No MORE!

I have taught many people to stand up for their rights by having the “Don’t take NO shit” attitude, balanced with the Oriental Way, this Western attitude seems to fit right in. Knowing the Gi/Justice is knowing the right moment when it becomes necessary to strike or walk away.

2010-04-16 13-10-12_00402010-04-16 13-15-36_0047
First I am Friendly and I Give respect, but if you disrepect me…

…THEN you get THIS!

When you are taught the basics well, you can fight for your dignity and gain self assurance, even if you are beat down and pounded, you WILL get back up again. You will gain respect from others, even from most of your foes. Most important YOU will have SELF-RESPECT. That is a fact. Once a person learns “why and how to defend themselves” they will no longer take crap and the bully KNOWS he can no longer intimidate.
Korean-American and DUAL CITIZENSHIP? It can mean many things to many people. How many KADs want or can seek it? How many have the chance to come and live, and try to ‘go native’? There is a ‘mixed bag’ of those who have come and lived here for some period of time. Just to visit once is an experience that I still remember with many emotions, good and bad.

I AM A KOREAN-AMERICAN, YES! I am of BOTH Peoples, yet the level of Culture, language, knowledge, etc are at different levels for everyone. The lines are very thin between one level and another. Korean-American can also be a genetically ‘pure’ Korean (IF there is such a thing) yet if one was born in the USA, or moved there when young, children in Korea call them Kyopo and “Not Real Koreans anymore”.

The “Kyopo” and IbYangIn/Adoptee are often SHOCKED to find out that they are considered MIXED, just like a Mixed-Blood the label applies, though there are many differences. We who were Adopted have varying degrees of SOME to almost NO language, cultural understanding, knowledge of traditions, habits, etc. It’s a Sliding scale of Koreanness.
See my post on “Real Koreanness” on the first post for “I am a Korean American” and find where are you on the SCALE of Real Korean.

We can learn but can we 'make up' for the lost years? Doubt it but go ahead and try. Don’t give up, learn what you are comfortable with wanting to do. You will have to accept that you ARE a Unique human being, One of a Kind? No, there are tens of thousands of brothers and sisters JUST LIKE YOU…even tens of thousands who were adopted In-Country and many are just learning that they were Secretly Adopted. Are they not our brethren too? YES, they are indeed.

SO, continue on YOUR JOURNEY, be strong and full of courage, SUCK IT UP if you can, AND help those who are staggering under the weight of personal suffering. Lift them up and help them, together we can move forward and find peace, love, understanding in,