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.


August 29, 2010

Part 2-Letter to Dong Sangs

Part II

Letter to My Younger Brothers/Sisters

Dear Dong Saengs (Cont.)

Some of you may wonder "what is this all about?" Well to put it simply it is about the Few affecting the Many, the Few who represent themselves wrongly to the Korean Media as ALL Korean Adoptees "wanting to stop exporting/adoptions" outside of the country.  Some liberal Korean lawmakers are thinking that all KADs are whining and 'want to be white'. Hey, most of us have just dealt with it and matured to realize "hey, I ain't a whitey- I am a person of color". This is the personal Adoption Identity that we all have to walk out.

In Part I, the Korean War Baby, one of the First Generation of KADs, gave a challenge to the KADLinKs (Korean ADoptees Living in Korea) to be upfront and clearly state their position. Adoptee groups A.S.K. and T.R.A.C.K. are in-country KAD activist groups with members from international KADs and sympathizers who are in the Adoption Triad. Both have slightly different agendas and the KWB has joined both in order to understand exactly what they believe. I respect the effects to help Unwed Mothers that both ASK and TRACK are involved in.

However, some members of both are for the Stopping of InterCountry (Overseas) Adoptions as a solution. I know this from their writings and websites on Facebook/websites. I have documented the efforts by ASK to petition AGAINST ICA and though I agree with the PRO-Unwed Mother aspects...I totally disagree with the idea of stopping ICA: WHILE MOST KOREANS DO NOT WANT TO KEEP MOST CHILDREN. The myth of "Koreans do not want to adopt" is foolish, proven to be wrong by KWDI. The Civil Code Law Adoptions and Domestic Adoptions far out number the total InterCountry Adoptions each year. More than 450,000 Korean mothers have given up their children for adoption IN-Country and Overseas.

I have gained research from many sources but best exemplified by Korean Women’s Development Institute and their excellent compiling of MOHWFA facts, charts, and summaries. However, only the Executive Summaries are in English and translation of 200 page reports is difficult. Some are posted as Pages under the heading of KWB.

One highly esteemed and respected (even by me) colleague of yours (KADLinK), in better days, once challenged me, “Don, are you for the F*cking Truth?” Well, YES, I am for the whole f*cking truth, no matter how ugly or shocking.

Apparently, the number of Unwed Mothers KEEPING their children ARE in fact INCREASING. This is DESPITE the challenges that they face. Even the KWDI points out that getting proper numbers is difficult because the right questions are NOT being asked on Census surveys. This year's Census may have modified questions, to determine the mother's status. However, not everyone will admit on a survey with personal information that they were UNWED at time of birth. I have pointed out that Court cases of yearly adoptions may show the CIVIL CODE LAW adoptions that are 100% Secretly done. Adoption is still a shameful thing to admit, ask the KWB wife about that one. She never told her family that I was half-Korean OR adopted after 4 years of marriage. That blew me away and I demanded letters written to tell all her family who the hell I am. THIS IS KOREA. Got to Deal with them with the TRUTH.

INCONVENIENT TRUTHS


Every DAY in 2007 twenty-one babies were born to Unwed Mothers, and every day one thousand to FOUR thousand had ABORTIONS. In the six days of the Gathering that is 6,000 to 24,000 human fetus that would have been born were ‘eliminated or terminated’. That makes me MAD AS HELL, how about you?

What is also a FACT is that for every Unwed Mother who Wants/Keeps her child, that day MANY pregnant Korean women CHOSE to have an ABORTION. They have that Choice by LAW since 1973, and the ratios are from 1,000/21 per day up to 4,000/21 per day (depending on Government or OBGYN doctors’ figures). Let us not mention being ‘lucky’ or ‘fortunate to be alive’ for some get ALL bent out of shape on that, but it is the F*cking Truth. 



But what can you do? Force women to have the baby? Of Course Not. The government pressure earlier this year caused the price of Abortion to more than triple the amount for a short time. Some women went to China to afford the ‘procedure’ facing dubious medical care. Clinics and hospitals raised their prices in order to take advantage, check my blog under "abortion" for links.

 It seems to this old guy adoptee, that some are ignoring this truth- that TWO out of THREE Unwed Mothers ARE giving up their children for adoption, with 3 to 1 ratio of In-Country (3) to Overseas/ICA.

The daily numbers based on 2008 (according to KWDI-May 2009 rpt) show 14 babies per day GIVEN up by their Choice, (though I certainly agree that ‘forced by circumstances of life, society, family, motherhood, etc’ CAUSE them to give birth rather than ‘termination’). Of the 14 babies, the FACTS show that only 3.4 Daily of these babies were sent abroad in ICA adoptions. So called Domestic Adoptions (those sanctioned through Four Adoption Agencies) account only for 3.6 per day. Where did the other 7 go? Evidence suggests they were adopted through the Civil Code Law Adoptions.

Steve Morrison of Mission to Promote Adoption by Koreans (MPAC) has presented in his session that the final Revision of the Adoption Law will establish a common way for ALL adoptions, Civil Code Law, Domestic, and ICA. Perhaps some of you know of this development, which IS GOOD NEWS for us all as it would further help prevent abuses and standardize the processes into one that would protect the rights of the children, in accordance with Hague Conventions on Adoption and Children’s Rights.


I joined your groups, ASK and TRACK, because I wanted to learn ‘the f#cking truth’. I have studied carefully your writings and those of many blogs, sometimes reading every single posting of ‘Bastard Nation’, ‘Bastardette’ and other interesting sites, trying to understand what some of you believe. There has been many points that I have come to accept after deep reflection, but also some that I strongly disagree with. I respect those with differing opinions, even though I am concerned that a few extremists on both sides muddle the discourse. There is no “black or white” but rather shades of grey or a spectrum of colors in This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

I have told some of you that I agree wholeheartedly with the “Pro-Unwed Mothers”, YET I must conclude based on ‘Inconvenient Facts’ that it is NOT time to stop adoptions In-Country or InterCountry. This is where we differ, yet I have held out hope that with such brilliant young minds that you all have, that it would lead to some small compromise until THAT DAY comes that Korean people will accept Unwed Mothers, divorcees, widows, single moms, etc. THAT YOU BE PATIENT but persistent. Be for Unwed Mother but not against ICA. Publicly state your position on this matter, once and for all to review.

Here is my proposal for peaceful co-existence between YOU ALL and Moi, the Korean War Baby:

First, get it into your minds that while I live and breath and have being on this earth YOU WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH ME!!! SUCK IT UP...you don’t have to love or like me but work with me together on these issues. Let’s be FOR the Unwed Mothers; For showing Korean media all aspects of adoption that it should not be a shameful thing; For bringing into the light of day all wrongs; work to move Korean society to improve on the issues of pity and shame; these are points we DO agree on.

BUT…if you A.A.A.A.s continue to TRY to STOP ICA, then you will have to put up with ME…I WILL FIGHT YOU ALL from stopping ICA ‘cold turkey’, I will DEMAND from the Korean government openness and truth in Civil Code Law Adoptions and Domestic Adoptions; I will push for unity in the Law for all adoption to be in accordance to the Hague Conventions and for Korea to sign and ratify them; I will pressure KCARE to be more than a front.

Am I being Dramatic? YOU have not seen drama yet, people. UNTIL I DIE and my COLD HARD FINGERS CANNOT TYPE, this is my promise.

There must be a Mult-tierred response to all of the complex issues. No one plan-fits-all but a truly comprehensive plan that we CAN agree on.

‘Cause I am HERE, Get over yourselves, DEAL WITH IT!! Deal with ME. THIS IS MY “F#CK@NGTRUTH”! I got more passion and balls to do things you people won’t do. I know how to work the media, just watch.

Many of you will move on with your lives leave the country, but Here I stand, I will stay the fight IN KOREA…will you fight WITH me or against me? It is up to you to chose, be allies together, putting aside our petty differences and working for the BIG PICTURE. I see the hope that one day, like USA or Australia the need for ICA adoption or Domestic adoption will NOT be necessary in this our motherland. Don’t we agree on this? Stopping ICA now is NOT part of the solution!!! Cut the Supply and the Demand will dry up.

If you will simply publicly state for the record that you will take down petitions against ICA on ASK website, not work to stop ICA WHILE Koreans do NOT take care of their own, I will reciprocate and withdraw many of the names and events posted on my blog. I will make it go away. Names will be deleted and entire posts will disappear.

UPDATE: After a heartfelt discussion Sat. Sept. 18th,  with Rev. Kim DoHyun I have offered to DELETE LAST Names as a SIGN of Sincerity and gesture of GOOD WILL. I will begin this action this week. We both discussed that the process of reconciliation will take many steps from all of us. Come dear KADLinKs, let us reason together for the best interests of those Daily being born in Korea, Hmmm. 

This is my heartfelt offer, and I DO respect what you want to do but NOT the way you want to ‘solve’ issue of stopping ICA. Is this too much to ask? Look at the realities, can you change the hearts and minds of Korean society and government policies so quickly?

What is your solutions to the children who cannot be adopted because of Koreans distaste for children with disabilities, abandoned, premature births, older children, etc? Surely you would not stop a premature child with heart conditions from being adopted by a well-vetted foreign family, would you? If you stop ICA that would happen. THAT will NOT HAPPEN while I live.

Come, let us reason together. Tobias, Kim Su, Jane, Jenifer, Nicole, Jan Wenger, Rev. Kim, K. Stoker, Tammy, Jenny, Johnny, and all others who are dedicated to these issues…

Let’s MOVE ON in peace. Or get it on. Again I say to you, I will be you best ally as a ‘First Generation KAD’ in all this OR YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE continues. This is not a threat, just reality. I am not asking for too much, am I? Only on the point of stopping ICA before the time is right. Is this too much for peace and well being?

I post this for you consideration and debate. Can’t we all just get along? Please discourse among yourselves and get back to me.

Respectfully,

Don Gordon BELL,
The Korean War Baby


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