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 15, 2010

Genetic Lessons From a Prolific Sperm Donor - Newsweek

What? Why is the Korean War Baby concerned with Sperm Donors? Well, just consider the good, bad, and weird things that Science and Medicine has wrought in the couple of generations with In-Vitro Fertilization, Birth Control Pills, ‘Emergency Contraception’, ‘deadbeat birth fathers’, etc.

Look at this article and you get the perspective from a man who thought he was doing a good thing. “Donating Sperm” did not make him rich, at $20 USD per…uh, specimen.

Genetic Lessons From a Prolific Sperm Donor – Newsweek

"You would get a personal phone call from a nurse saying, 'The situation is urgent! We have a woman ovulating this morning. Can you be here in a half hour?' "

"It's a crisp fall day in Northville, Mich., a small suburb of Ann Arbor, and Kirk Maxey, a soft-spoken, graying baby boomer with a classic square jaw, is watching his 12-year-old son chase a soccer ball toward the goal. Maxey is doing what he does every Saturday, along with hundreds of other family men and women across the country, but he's not your average soccer dad. Maxey, 51, happens to be one of the most prolific sperm donors in the country. Between 1980 and 1994, he donated at a Michigan clinic twice a week.

Maxey was a medical student at the University of Michigan, his first wife, a nurse at a fertility clinic, persuaded him to start donating sperm to infertile couples. Maxey became the go-to stud for the clinic because his sperm had a high success rate of making women pregnant, which brought in good money for the clinic. Maxey himself made about $20 a donation, but says he was motivated to donate more out of a strong paternal instinct and sense of altruism.

When he began volunteering, he wasn't asked to take any genetic tests and received no psychological screening or counseling. He merely signed a waiver of anonymity, locked himself in a room with a cup and a sexy magazine, and didn't consider the emotional or genetic consequences for another 30 years. Both his cavalier attitude and the clinic's lax standards, Maxey says, explain why he may have so many offspring. But now a fierce conscience is catching with his robust procreative drive.
Now the confluence of genetic science and an increased awareness around the consequences of sperm donation is changing the game—and potentially the lives of Maxey's offspring. Today sperm donation is no longer a shadow business, partially because infertility, single motherhood, and homosexual parenting have become more socially acceptable. (The California Cryobank alone now sells an average of 30,000 vials of sperm a year.) At the same time, donors and offspring have begun to connect though genetic testing and Web sites like the Donor Sibling Registry.
In 2007 two of Maxey's offspring, Ashley and Caitlyn Swetland, who are now 21 and 18, used the site to find Maxey, who had been a registered user since 2005. No other children have come forward, but as Maxey's relationship with Ashley and Caitlyn progressed, he began to think about the consequences of his earlier donations.

Mr. Maxey’s ‘reunion’ with just two of his offspring has been positive, yet it demonstrates the tip of the iceberg. It is good that he ‘began to think about the consequences of his earlier donations’, but how many sperm donors in the past and present feel the same way? Many ‘deadbeat’ birth “Fathers (NOT a father)” are most likely to run the other way when a girlfriend tells them, “I tested positive”. Korean ‘birthfathers’, a real joke of a term, are now immune from prosecution from their own ‘sperm donating’.

633635914173530286-disbelief2In Korea there are NO LAWS to test for Paternity or force the Bio-logical ‘sperm donor’ to even help with medical costs, let alone give child support for the 37% of Unwed Mothers who KEPT their babies in 2008. That represents more than ONE out of THREE babies born that year and from 2000 it was only 8.6%. (See KWDI_May2009ReportIssuesUnwedMothers)

YET some Liberal Socialists Opposition Lawmakers are pushing for a law that would give a biological “father” the right to RE-CLAIM his Paternal Rights if a child is given up for IN-COUNTRY Adoption.
Talk about a Dead-beat law…Uh, WHY? I asked some Korean Women’s Development Institute’s professors if ANY Korean father would even WANT to do that. They had to agree that they knew almost none would do such a thing. There are SOME things that the KWB agrees with some people in the liberal camps, when it comes to women’s rights and rights of the child.

On the same note though, Korean women have the legal and moral right to RELINQUISH their child and 63% DID SO in 2008.

Would that more Bio-logical Sperm Donors/boyfriends/even rapists/just plain jerks WOULD have a change of mind and consider like Mr. Maxey the consequences of their actions. The Korean War Baby DID and at the age of 28 he did the drastic step of having a vasectomy. Years later he and his wife had to try science to produce a child, ending in failure twice. Many do not know that the success rate is about 20% and many eggs are fertilized and frozen. Hard decisions had to be made and moral issues abound. (watch for the book).

For Adoptees NOT knowing both of our biological parents are difficult issues. There are parallels to those who discover that they were ‘produced’ by Medical Science. Whether egg or sperm OR BOTH, they must deal with some of the same issues. In the end we must all help each other and stop just blaming or trying “Knee Jerk Reactions” like thinking that JUST STOP INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS will solve it all. Nothing is simple in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

Some other articles about the pitfalls of Sperm Donation, IVF, etc.:

The truth about donor 1084


More Moral Dilemmas