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.


July 4, 2010

Guidelines for Birth Family Search

GuidelinesBirthFamilySearch

Guideline for Post-Adoption Services (Family Search)

Division of Family Support
The Ministry for Health, Welfare,
and Family Affairs

These are the basic guidelines from the Korean Government. Any Korean Adoptee, Adoptive Parent/family, Birth Family members, adoption professionals should go and copy this to their PDF files. This will help to understand the standardization that is being attempted to use the same forms, and is a step in the right direction.

REMEMBER IF YOU ARE A KOREAN ADOPTEE, Maybe you are NOT ready yet to search but REQUESTING your files may help you to understand your circumstances better. You may then decide to make further steps to try to make contact. Study and read, TALK with friends and Adoptive Family about what you FEEL and your thoughts. BE OPEN, for you own sake and your loved ones.

Pg. 6

2. Application Process

  • Adoptees or adoptive parents who live overseas may request a birth family search from the central authority of the adoptive country or their co-operating agencies, or request through KCARE or the adoption agencies in Korea.
  • Adoptees or adoptive parents who live in Korea may request a birth family search from the adoption agencies, or from KCARE if information from the agencies are insufficient.


Required Documents :
- Post-adoption services application form,
- Adoptee's ID card (e.g. passport, driver's license),
- Adoptive parents' ID cards, and a parental consent form (for adoptees under 18)
- Photograph of the requester(taken within the last 6 months),
- Other related documents and pictures from the original adoption that might help with the birth family search.

Note THIS on Pages 7-8:

4. Deadlines and Notifications

  • A. Disclosure at the Beginning of Application
    KCARE and the adoption agencies should disclose the following items to the requester at the beginning of the service :
  • Service may be limited when it is difficult to locate an adoption
    triad(adoptee, adoptive family, or birth family) or when a triad (member) does not wish to be contacted (e.g. phone calls, mails, etc).
  • If an adoption triad(adoptee, adoptive family, or birth family) has been notified of a search and does not wish to be contacted or be reunited, no additional request will be made until the refusing entity changes his/her mind.
  • No information will be released when the birth family or adoptive family did not authorize the release of their information at the time of the adoption.

Page 8: Application for Post-Adoption Services

Application for Post Adoption ServicesThis is the form that is used by all Adoption Agencies Post Adoption Services sections.

NOTE: THEY DO NOT REQUIRE but it is a good idea to have the document taken to a Notary Public with Identifying documents. A scan of your PASSPORT, Driver’s Licence, or other ID with Photo and signature should be sent also.

KCare is the Korean Central Adoption Resources quasi-government entity that has been working for just over a year. Remember that they have only a few facts digitized on cases, what they will do is help to direct to the main Adoption Agencies. IF YOU KNOW THE ADOPTION AGENCY, just GO directly to their Post Adoption Services section:

Social Welfare Society (SWS) Post Adoption Services

Korean Social Services (KSS) Post Adoption Services

Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS) Post Adoption Services

Holt-Korea Post Adoption Services

 

In turn the orphanage/baby home/etc. that one was FIRST brought to will be contacted. Your files should have that information in them. However, do remember that sometimes the orphanage or home has closed and some records may or may not be included. You will be told what happened to the orphanage or home.

To be continued.

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