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 6, 2010

The Journey...: Leaving soon!

 There are so many excellent blogs that show personal journeys, here is one that shows how some Adoptive Parents are dealing with all the complex issues of raising International Adoptees. They are not “rich white folks” but a simple young couple from middle America, typical couple who turned to adoption to have the joy of being parents. For some this is a ‘horrible thing to do’, they actually claim that people who adopt are…get this, ‘stealing’ children. HAH, what rubbish!!
Examine the motives and the heart of this couple through this blog and see for yourself how they are learning and working through all these issues. For the great majority, adoption is a wonderful thing for most involved, yet it is not perfect. There are complications and the birth families are part of the equations.
The reasons for giving up/relinquishment/abandonment are many and life goes on for birth mothers/fathers/family. That some are able to reunite in a larger extended ‘family’ sometimes takes place. Sometimes it is NOT so nice.See how this family are also dealing with that. Some interesting and eye opening things are shared, we who are involved, ALL of us need to keep an open mind. Let’s not jump to conclusions or put people into some ‘box’.
The Journey...: Leaving soon!
My thoughts about my family's journey through life, focusing mainly on raising our two children, both adopted from Korea.

Toni

About Me

I am the mother of two awesome children, ages 10 & 12, both adopted from South Korea. I'm the wife of Jim, the engineer/scientist and hot air balloon pilot. I'm also a fourth grade teacher. I started this blog to start collecting links and information about being the parent of two Korean children, to share my thoughts and ideas on parenting them, and to hear from others who also parent Korean children. It is a journey for me, as I learn more about them, more about myself and more about Korea.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Leaving soon!
I just realized how quickly my trip is approaching! Next week the kids are at Camp Chin-gu (friend) - a local Korean culture camp. A week from Sunday we leave for our 18 days in Korea. While I am very excited, I am suddenly hit with the realities of dealing with leaving for almost 3 weeks and with getting everything figured out over there (subway, buses, guest house, etc.). Lots to do. Right now we will land in Seoul on 7/20 and spend the night at the Holt Guest House. We will have 2 days in Seoul. In the afternoon of the second day we will take the KTX Train to Busan (so fast!), where we are staying with the parents of a friend of mine - they are so sweet and kind to us. The next day we will take a bus to Goseong and pick up my son's younger brother who will come to Busan to stay with us for several days while my son's Halmoni is working. This is great!! We were not expecting to be able to do this. This will allow my son to have lots of time with his brother.
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This blog is from a couple who are ‘learning to do it better’, helping their Korean Adoptees to learn about their native culture through Culture Camp for example. This trip will be monumental in the family’s development and help their identities as Koreans. Read more of this family’s experience as they grow together in understanding This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

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