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

Post Adoption Services


Post Adoption Services Holt International

The Korean War Baby will be looking at Post Adoption Services sections of all four of the major government approved Adoption Agencies- Holt Korea; Social Welfare Society SWS; Eastern Social Welfare Society ESWS; Korean Social Service KSS.

It must be remembered that Holt INTERNATIONAL is a separate entity and Holt KOREA since the early 1970’s has been completely run by Korean leadership. Even Ms. Molly Holt was only recently made a Board of Director member, the Holt Intl. does not have ‘control’ over the policies and actions of Holt Korea.

*Request Information will take you to this online form.


Several things to note for the Korean Adoptee who is thinking about finding out more about your life. REMEMBER that some files are written in Hangul in your Holt Korea files.

**YOU WILL NOT be given all documents though, for instance the personal data of the birth parents cannot be given until contact is made and they sign willingness to make contact. They DO have the right to chose NOT to make contact. Sorry about that, but most women may have married and have not told about their secrets. It is not like the Western countries, majority of Korean Society would be ashamed of revealing that a child was ‘given away/relinquished’ for adoption. KWB

The four agencies process adoptions both Domestic and Overseas, (SURPRISED? Domestic adoptions may be 3-4 times the Overseas numbers)  and took care of children after they were sent from other ORPHANAGES throughout Korea. Many orphanages have closed and sometimes files from them are limited or lost.

Some files might be in an orphanage founder’s home, and there is a CHANCE that some information is contained there THAT WAS NOT PASSED ON. This is not an attempt at hiding, it just was not deemed ‘important’ to pass on, it is just noted that the child was relinquished. FOR INSTANCE the Korean War Baby discovered that a document roughly translated “Reason for Relinquishment” was in an adoptee’s file at the orphanage but not sent along to the processing agency. This “Reason for Relinquishment” gave a clue to why the two siblings were ‘given up’. Somehow this was NOT included in the files.

As time went on and under different circumstances, such as double abandonment (29,950 cases were left with no name, not even family name) or Disabled child (37,276 cases where most also had no name given). We must understand though that the parents or mothers were faced with HUGE pressures from their own family, society, lack of government support (which may NOT have been considered necessary since only 3% of Disabled children ARE ADOPTED within country).

* NOTE: We must accept these reasons, deal with HURT, PAIN, HATE, LOSS, ETC. and try to find forgiveness for our mothers/fathers/siblings. As adults we must WORK THROUGH this and even secular professionals tell us that FORGIVENESS is the key to HEALING. I personally think trying to forgive others can only come when one has discovered FORGIVENESS FROM A HIGHER POWER.

Also, in the case of say American Adoption Agencies they have usually only the ENGLISH language files, as the Korean Hangul documents were translated but copies of the original DO CONTAIN some facts such as Chinese characters for the name have different meanings.

“YONG” is written in Hangul as but in Chinese there are many HanJa (Chinese characters) that are translated into “Yong”. In the KWB’s name “Yong Soo” the character for Yong is – it means “Face” but other characters might mean “dragon”. Korean PASSPORTS may or may not have Chinese characters.

If the BIRTH MOTHER NAMED her child, not ABANDONING it at a public place, then chances are it had Chinese characters as well as Hangul (Korean written language). Abandoned in public places or even with ‘written relinquishment forms’ was commonly used.

It is hoped that Korean media would continue to remind “those who gave up their children” to contact the orphanage or adoption agencies, even KCARE to inquire about the well being of their child. Most birth parents DO NOT know if their child was adopted IN-COUNTRY OR OVERSEAS. Imagine a birth parent seeing a child that looks like them on the streets of Seoul. The chances of meeting a “Half-sibling” may also be a reason to NOT GET MARRIED TO “IB Yang in” persons. You might marry a relative!!!

Again, so-called Domestic Adoptions DO NOT COUNT the also secret but LEGAL CIVIL CODE LAW adoptions allowed outside of the “domestic adoptions processed through the four adoption agencies”. See here for Korean Women’s Development Institutes reports.


“There have been two tracks of laws for adopting children within Korea: Civil Code and Special Act relating to Promotion and Procedures of Adoption (hereafter SAPPA)…

The adoption practices by Civil Code are very different from SAPPA. Traditional motivation for adoption is to continue patriarchal family lineage. Family without a son used to adopt a child of relatives. The adopted child keeps maintaining relationship with and rights to inherit from biological parents…According to Civil Code, adoption contract is made by mutual agreement of adoptee and adoptive parents…Adoption based on Civil Code is far behind in protecting the welfare of adoptee children.”

The 1961 Act was abolished and renamed as 1976 Special Adoption Act to cover both intercountry and domestic adoption. In 1995, it is renamed as SAPPA to strengthen the welfare of adopted children and to promote domestic adoption. Under the influence of Confucian tradition, family bond and lineage have been strongly emphasized in Korea, which consequently affect adoption law and practices. Despite the new special act for adoption, many are not ready to adopt abandoned and relinquished children even when they want adoption. High proportion of domestic adoption is presumed to be done secretly. Many adoptive parents report their adopted child as their birth child to administrative office.

KWB notes this has become possible since Hojeok, the Family Registry system has been changed to Individual Registry recently. Previously Adoptive Parents were forced to include the birth parents on the Hoju-Father's Family Registry. The estimate is 97% are SECRET.

According to 2008 adoption statistics issued by Office of Court Administration, only 49 out of total 1,306 cases based on SAPPA are reported to Court. It means that parents reported them as their own birth child rather than adopted not want to have their friends and relatives know their child adopted. Adoptive parents Most domestic adoption cases collected by Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Family are not reported to Court as adoption. It means they are adopted secretly.


Don’t trust ME, read the whole damn report, fact check and see for yourself. Isn’t it a wonder that those who want to “JUST STOP INTERCOUNTRY Adoptions” KNOW ALL THESE FACTS!! Yet they ignore the facts because their agenda is “Woe is me, I was adopted into a rich white family and I are lost my culture, language, name’ oh, boo hoo…”.

HEY Suck it up, GET OVER IT. Work through your wounds, there is help out there.

Stop whining and learn ALL the facts. Nobody stole you from your country or mother, even TRACK has SIX, yes a whopping 6 cases that they have documented with IRREGULARITIES. Celebrated cases of “KIDNAPPED” KAD’s were Kidnapped by their mother’s FAMILY. As in the cases of Sunny Jo and “Resilience” the film (now showing in film festivals all over) these are EXCEPTIONS not the rule. Dr. Kim Su Rasmussen- can you dispute these FACTS? Please respond to the KWB. As for you who falsely claim that most of us were ‘stolen from our birth mothers/fathers, families, country, culture, etc. etc. WEEEEELLL,  



Undocumented, unwanted, abandoned, rejected by family, birth father, birth mother, society…The reasons are many, but the damage is done, hopefully YOUR Adoptive Parents and siblings, extended family, were able to help you adjust. Now you may be curious about your past, GOOD, talk to your Adoptive Family members about it, let them know you LOVE THEM, but want more answers if possible.

As an individual though YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH LIFE. Try to find out but read many stories or other adoptees journeys. Compare Pro and Con blogs not just the “whiney ones”. You a guy? Grow a PAIR, you a girl, well you need to grow a different pair, all have to be adults. There are many books and online sources, find a counselor who really understands This Thing of Ours-Adoption. A broad reading will help you sort through it all. Good luck, God Bless, you on your journey.

The Korean War Baby

July 2010

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