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 31, 2010

IKAA Gathering in Seoul, ROK-Aug. 3-8

 Symposium open to sign ups.

IKAA - International Korean Adoptee Associations

Print International Scholars to meet in Seoul to present Korean Adoption Research

“Scholars from around the world will present their Korean Adoption Studies research during the IKAA Gathering 2010 at the Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies to be held Tuesday, August 3, 2010 in Seoul, South Korea at the Lotte Hotel Seoul.”

 

 

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

International Adoption from Korea and Overseas Adopted Koreans:
The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies


Symposium Date: August 3, 2010
Planned location: IKAA Korean Adoptee Gathering, Hotel LOTTE, MyungDong, Seoul, Korea. 
Symposium Sponsor: IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations).
Questions?  Contact Kim Park Nelson, greg0051@umn.edu

External guest registration here

REGISTRATION FOR EXTERNAL GUESTS

The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies

August 3rd, 9 am - 5:30 pm
at the Crystal Ballroom, Lotte Hotel

Open to the general public.
Per person: KRW 50,000
Student (with valid ID card that has to be presented on site): KRW 25,000

Payment on site. Pre-registration recommended. Will open soon.
Print e-ticket and present it at the registration desk no later than 30 min. before the event.

To register for the Research Symposium:
1. Go to the online registration
2. Log in if you already have an IKAA account
3. In the "Preferred price category" choose "External Guest" or "External Student"
4. Follow instructions
5. When the registration has been completed correctly, you will receive a link to download your e-ticket.
6. Print out the e-ticket and present it during registration at the Lotte Hotel.

REGISTER HERE

NEW HOTEL VENUE!    NEW ACTIVITIES!    SPECIAL EVENTS!

*The IKAA Gathering 2010 is open to ALL adult Korean adoptees (18+) and their spouses/partners and children. You do NOT have to be a member of an adoptee association to register...but we'd be happy to put you in touch with an adoptee association near you, too, if you'd like!*

NEW HOTEL VENUE! 

Don't forget that the IKAA Gathering 2010 will be at a new hotel

Hotel Lotte Myeong Dong 

(“Low teh” for Korean pronounciation).

Lotte Hotel ibis-myeongdong-ambatel-map

Hotel Lotte (Myeong Dong) downtown Seoul. Eul Ji Ro 1 Ga Sta. take Exit 7 & 8 leads into the basement of Lotte Department Store. The Hotel is on the same corner (Southwest for the guys). Click on maps to make larger.

The Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul (Myeongdong district, not Jamsil) is a 5-star hotel and one of the top 3 or 4 hotels in Korea.  It’s such a great location and we’re able to hold all sessions and most activities at the hotel.

The hotel has a great room rate for our Gathering, at only $105 per night per room, single or double occupancy (KRW 120,000).  As at any other hotel in Seoul, there’s also a 10% tax and 10% service charge added.  The registration code is “IKAA Gathering” and reservations can be made online: (NOTE-Cheaper rooms are booked already)

http://www.lottehotel.com/Convention/ConventionReserv.asp?strSeqNO=57. The Lotte Hotel has agreed to offer this special Gathering rate to attendees from July 26th to August 12th, so those of you who will arrive a little early or stay a little longer can take advantage of this significantly discounted room rate. The hotel has a fantastic grocery in the basement, amazing food court, and wonderful department store attached – you can seemingly buy anything there!  The hotel even has its own subway stop and you don’t even have to go outside to catch it!

Be sure to visit 3 Alley Pub Itaewon, Seoul 3AlleyPub

3AP

 

3 Alley Pub

ABOVE 3 Alley Pub is the Sam Ryan’s Sport Bar managed by Chris:

samryansGreat Grill, international menu, flat-wide screens EVERYWHERE. Nice wide open atmosphere, Try the Ribs, “dem some good yah!”

Tell Albert, Bernie, and Chris the Korean War Baby sent you!

Also nearby for Korea’s Best Chili:

Chili King

 

ChiliKingLogo Opening2 motionKevin the Chili King!

ChiliKing_map

ChilliKing_MonsterBurger

 

 

 

  Monster King Kev with 3 paddies of beef, French Fries, coleslaw. Few are able to finish the WHOLE THING.

 

Itaewon is the area that traditionally was for foreign merchants, outside the city gates of Seoul. Just a stone’s throw from the Yongsan Base where first Japanese, then American troops made their headquarters. For modern Ex-Pats this is the place for best food, drink, comrades to meet both Koreans and foreigners come together. Come enjoy Korean beer or have your favorite brew.

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