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.


September 30, 2010

Third Mom-In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee

Third Mom

thirdmom_naksansa 928

September 27, 2010


Will we learn from "In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee"?
Of all the publicly-told adoption stories I have heard since adoption from Korea became a part of my life (apart from Julia's, which holds a very different place in my heart and mind), it is Deann Borshay Liem's that has touched me most deeply. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, which can be viewed online at PBS' POV through Octobrer 15th, picks up where First Person Plural, which can also be viewed online at POV through November 20th, leaves off. Both films document how Deann Borshay Liem refused to let the dismissal of those around her deter her from finding out the truth about her adoption, her identity and the woman whose name she brought to the United States when she was sent for adoption in her place.

A couple of weekends ago, I watched In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, then reprised First Person Plural before watching Cha Jung Hee a second time. There are some similarities between Ms. Liem's story and that of one of my children, and I wanted to watch the film very carefully to understand why and how it was so easy for everyone involved in Ms. Liem's adoption to ride roughshod over her identity and history.

Read the rest and the Comments.
Third Mom says in one comment this:
“I think an ethical adoption is an adoption in which every possibility to keep the original family together has been exhausted, where coercion is absent, where trafficking is absent, where families have not been enticed with money or lies to surrender a child, where the child's identity and existing family connections are preserved, where the child has access to all information pertaining to his or her history and original family, where adoptive parents recognize and respect the child's identity and connections, where adoptive parents honor their commitments to original families regarding communication, visitation and connection, where adoptive parents accept their responsibility to connect their child with his or her racial and ethnic community and make its support a parenting priority, where original birth certificates are not sealed from adoptees, and more and more.
We have failed in the U.S., for sure, and adoption from Korea has certainly failed. I think that leaves society with a couple of options: stop adoption altogether (absolutely a possibility; from my point of view, that would leave kids whose only chance of growing up in a family environment in the lurch) or for people to start speaking up and demanding better. I'd like to see the latter before throwing in the towel altogether.
INDEED, Third Mom, people to start speaking up and demanding better. I'd like to see the latter before throwing in the towel altogether” Hopefully that will happen, for the hundreds even thousands each year RIGHT NOW in Korea (Rep. of Korea also known as South Korea). For there are children being given up for adoption DAILY.
They escaped being aborted, 4,000 daily aborted to 21 Born Alive, and of the 21 SEVEN ARE kept by their mostly Unwed Mothers. BUT daily 14-15 babies ARE given up for ADOPTION, with In-Country Adoptions and InterCountry Adoptions at a Three to one ratio. This means that for every child allowed to be adopted overseas in InterCountry Adoption that THREE are adopted IN-Country.

This is not counting tens of thousands Unadoptable because of their older age, left in 280 crowded institutions, abandoned by their Korean ‘families’. When they are 19 they will be forced to go out on their own.

“Stop adoption altogether?” NOT POSSIBLE, because even in this country there are INFERTILE Korean COUPLES or those wanting a “sure thing of an opposite sex sibling” (65% are now female for Domestic/Civil Code Law adoptions). THIS IS THE DEMAND, and the SUPPLY of newborns continues daily. COLD HARD UGLY FACTS but the TRUTH.
Can we do it better? BY GOD Hopefully YES!! Let activists and advocates both FOR AND AGAINST work together to IMPROVE the LAWS to prevent abuse. Agree to disagree on some things but for the sake of innocent children, Let’s work to DO IT BETTER. 

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

The Korean War Baby suggests that to fully understand This Thing of Ours-Adoption one must try to read many different perspectives from as many folks as possible. Why you might actually learn something, you know expand knowledge and all that, because no one that I know of “Knows everything about Adoption”. Reminds me of the tale of ‘The blind men describing an Elephant’- each one grabs just one part of the beast and tells what they “Think” an Elephant must be like.
One should/must hear from Adoptive Parents, good and bad, older and younger. Christian and Gay/Lesbian, Buddhist and Agnostic, etc. Then how about “Happy Adoptees” or Adoptees of Special Needs, Mixed-Blood Adoptees, Older Adoptees, etc. etc.
Adoption is discussed by most of the Major World Religions. Taking care of the widows, orphans, and the poor, is emphasized as pure religion.


ON A WING AND A PRAYER
Recent Post:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Loving Mercies...
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
~CS Lewis, The Four Loves



Commenting on the recent PBS film, "Wo Ai Nee"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Adoption is not for whimps...

   After watching "Wo Ai Nee" and seeing little Faith's journey to her forever family and her future, it has confirmed to me what I knew all along..... Adoption is not for Whimps!  Not parent Whimps or kid Whimps...  It involves pain and loss and fighting to get to a place where you can sit quietly in a chair and hold a child who molds to you and sighs and sleeps in your arms...  That is peace... that is making it.


   It does not matter if your child is sleeping in your lap exhausted after screaming two hours or if you also have a bloody lip while doing the rocking...  just stick a Kleenex on it and enjoy the moment.  It does not matter if you are rocking a huge child who, for a moment, becomes the baby you never got to hold... You want to be able to rock them like the baby they were when maybe you could have fixed the deep problems that will not let them move on to joy and peace and success in their life.  Because they are yours (and you are theirs even when they do not seem to want you) and at that moment never was there a more perfect and beautiful child then the one in your arms...."

 “On a Wing and a Prayer” is from a Christian perspective (faith warning!) but rich with common sense and the experiences of a couple who adopted several children. Take a look, even if you are queer/gay/hate religion/don’t believe in god because you JUST MIGHT LEARN SOMETHING about the struggles of “Taking by Choice” a child who needs a loving home. It is NOT FOR WIMPS!!! Folks adopting need to be strong and develop great patience. Just ask the Korean War Baby’s Family about that one!

September 25, 2010

Only 1 Me-American Adoptee Diedre

 Over one year ago I met online a young American Adoptee who’s blog caught my eye, it was called “Your Blood is My Blood”. Jessenia or Muzik, was a Spoken Word Artist and I had no idea “wha was sup wid dat”. I listened and decided right then and there to start my own blog because I was inspired by her determination and drive.

I had just read again Jane Jeong Trenka’s “The Language of Blood”, one of her first books. I was struggling with the issue of being Half-Korean, not “Full-Blooded” Korean. The genetic code from my mother was in my own blood and Jesennia’s title drew me to listen to her first video. Jessenia Muzik has become 'the Voice of Adoptees' and encourages others to share their stories.


If you are involved in any way in This Thing of Ours-Adoption, go check out her site Here: Your Blood Is My Blood
Well, today I ran across This new blogger and immediately thought “this young lady should be connected to Jessenia. THEN, OH, she just started and has 5 followers, and Jessenia is one of them.
Diedre’s Link:   Only 1 Me
Here is Dee, listen to her Story:
No matter what your story, listening to others helps each of us in this complex matter to grow in understanding. I encourage Dee with her search and wish her the best. Go listen, pass on their links to others. We all can learn from each other. Thanks to both of you, for sharing to us all.

The Korean War Baby

September 24, 2010

"Resilience"-A film by Tammy Chu


ResilienceHomeImage
 "A Minor Critique"

The Korean War Baby has always endorsed this film directed and produced by Tammy Chu, a young Korean Adoptee who put several years into making this engaging film on This Thing of Ours-Adoption. The KWB is listed as one of the many many folks who are listed as sponsoring the Post-Production last year just before the debut at the prestigious Pusan International Film Festival in 2009.


If one uses the SEARCH device on the left column (LIGIT SEARCH) and input Resilience, one would find many posts and an advertisement for the film also on the left column.
Recently Tammy Chu and co-producer Rev. Kim appeared at the IKAA Gathering Film Festival  (which one will notice the KWB totally endorses) for questions and answers. One question was when would the film be presented to Korean audiences. We were told that soon it will be released with Korean subtitles and narration. This is excellent, for ‘preaching to the choir’ the KADs is not enough but the story needs to be told to Korean society as well. Hopefully even on Korean Television, wouldn’t THAT be great?
Here is the IKAA synopsis of the films:

_0001 (2) Resilience_Synopsis_IKAA Film Festival












“Resilience” 









Resilience_Synopsis_IKAA Film Festival_CU
A reminder the color Purple is used for the KWB thoughts. Please note this sentence (line 4)
“A single story among thousands of stories untold,”
This statement is far better than the website page synopsis found here:
Resilience
Resilience_SynopsisCU
Now please note the sentence after this:
“Despite being one of the world’s strongest economies, it (Korea) continues to do so. With every new family created by adoption, another family gets torn apart.”
The Korean War Baby takes annoyance, offense, even umbrage at such an outrageous statement.
 
“With every new family created by adoption, another family gets torn apart”.

This is just NOT TRUE, sorry, I am moved to protest this erroneous/grievous “HOLLYWOOD HYPE” for that is what it is, a catchy phrase that sounds good but even this story does not support this. I am loath to spoil the story of the film, however, BUT the story of Resilience is ONLY:
“A single story among thousands
of stories untold,”
An email REQUEST has been sent to Tammy Chu and Rev. Kim DoHyun asking them respectfully to change the website synopsis to match the better statement above, because it IS A single story among thousands. There are also thousands of abandoned children by mothers and fathers, the reasons are important but to simply state that the child was 'TORN from another Family' is NOT completely true. Misleading at best.
**************************************************
Please note this Facebook notice of a Showing and Q&A with Dir. Tammy Chu set for 5 Oct. 2010 next month.

InterCountry Adoptee Support Network
ICASN_ResilienceQ&A_Australia
Now look at this Close Up, “A single story among the thousands of stories untold,” SEE? This has been altered/amended to leave OUT the slightly, well, very inaccurate line about "Every" in the paragraph before.

ICASN_ResilienceQ&A_Australia_CUSynopsis
************************************************

Then in Minnesota we find THIS:
Minnesota TransRacial Film Festival
Well HERE we see again the line:
"With every new family created by adoption, another family gets torn apart."

Where is the consistency, sometimes included sometimes excluded. The Korean War Baby DOES NOT “demand/command/insist/pontificate/etc” what has already been written in the IKAA Film Festival or the promotion for the ICASN showing. This is acceptable and very true. “A single story among the thousands of stories untold,”

What is my only request/urging/reasoning/how about considering/longing to have balance/etc. etc. is that the website be in line with current modifications already done. It would take only 15-20 minutes by the Webmaster and would be SO much better. Which statement reflects ALL the truth?

It is because of Statistical Data like this below, that I am compelled and must speak out, imploring not cajoling, suggesting not demanding, requesting not commanding, seeking Balance not Pro or Con anything. 

Overseas Adopted Koreans website taken from MOHWFA (Ministry of Health Welfare and Family Affairs). OKFs_OverseasAdoptedKoreans_Statistics_Backgrd1958-2007
Note: Abandoned (29,950), Split Family (28,823), Single Mother (98,178), mixed (3,818), then Disability (37,276) where only 3% are adopted by Korean people...HELLO?!

WERE THESE CHILDREN TORN FROM THEIR ‘FAMILIES’? NO, Nyet, ANIO, Non!!! Many reasons for relinquishment/giving up but these were not “torn from their families”. 
The Korean War Baby implores/begs/proposes/suggests/puts forth, etc that the producers and director of Resilience make this minor change to standardize the synopsis. He will CONTINUOUSLY urge the producers/director to CONSIDER that Hollywood Hype is NOT NECESSARY for their film promotion. It will stand on it’s own merit and excellence.

The Korean War Baby

September 23, 2010

Connie Kreunen - Origins at Mose’s Baby Home

Dec. 8, 1980 Arrival Day!!!
ConnieKreunen
Song Hyun-Ah, 6 years old.
a1451149984_44118_5338 Thirty years ago on Dec. 8, 1980, a six year old Korean girl arrived to meet her new family.

 Arrival Day for
Connie Kreunen, this is her beginning. She has written of her memories at Moses Baby Home.



Located just outside Kunsan City, North Cholla Province, there is still located the US Air Force base where jet fighters are based, to help protect the freedom of Korea.

ConnieKreunen_1981 n1451149984_20132_2445
  Connie with Grandma Bertha Holt at Heritage Camp.

I met Connie in 1990, when she was 'sweet sixteen' now a counselor in New Jersey camp.  I was the TaeKwonDo instructor and a camp counselor. Holt Heritage Camp was my second camp experience that year as I was able to do West Coast first in Eugene, Oregon, then drove across the States two weeks later for New Jersey. I was a little perturbed when some of my own boys asked me (with my strange gene pool) "Why are YOU here?" I DID NOT hit them. Meeting so many Korean Adoptees was amazing for me. This was so different, a special defining moment in my life.It began my own journey to 'discover my Korean roots'.

I had just come back five years previously from the Philippines and my film career in B-movies was behind me. I was stunned at the "American inside/Korean outside" young ladies, but kept cool, which was very difficult. I was 38 years old, twenty years ago, AIIGOO, just way too old. It was to be a great motivation for me to go back to the motherland, four years later in 1994. I have lived in South Korea since, then married a local Korean woman, who is licensed to carry a pistol.
Connie 'nose' her wine.

By the way, Connie is a successful expert in wines and 'available'...only to the guy with the 'Right Stuff'. Better be a good pool player as well, hint. My thanks for Connie's support in keeping contact with so many KADs.

The Korean War Baby

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

Moses Baby Home

by Connie Kreunen on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 1:16pm

Song, Hyun-Ah (age 6)
Republic of Korea
1980
"Hyun-Ah, Song Hyun-Ah. . .Wake up! It's time to get up! Come on! Hyun-Ah. . ." Dazed and weak, I force my eyes open to see the morning light. A familiar and kind woman is looking at me. She is the same woman who dresses me, feeds me, and takes care of me when I am sick. She is the one who cuts my hair and tells me right from wrong. She is a mother figure. She reaches for my shoulder and moves it until she is sure that I am awake. I stretch my arms out to and breathe a deep sigh. I turn to see my friends, who are lined up next to me in a long row. I and fifty other kids stand up to pick our beds up from the heated floor. After the beds are put away, the room we slept in becomes a gymnasium once again.

Groups of five of us take turns going to the bathroom to brush our teeth and wash our hands. Then we shuffle to a small room to dress ourselves, anticipating our predictable breakfast: kim chee and hot steamed rice.

Breakfast never seems to last long enough. But there are always many fun activities available for us. The gymnasium has lots of balls, miniature jungle gyms, various toys, and many of my friends. This is an enormous room. It echoes when we talk, laugh, and play. It is usually cold in here, because of its size and lethargy of the gray cement. But when the sun rays shine through the high windows, it brings warmth and happiness. Right now I see some of my friends jumping rope, so I go over there to join them. We jump rope until we suddenly hear one of the caretakers shouting something. We tune in to hear what she is saying. Oh! She is telling us that it is time to go outside! Hooray! Going outside is one of my favorite things to do.

Boy, do those swings over there sure look fun! I better run over to them before the other kids get them all. The best way to swing is standing up. I feel so majestic, like a bird soaring high in the sky. But sometimes I scare myself when I swing too high. I do not like that. I swing for as long as I can until my turn is up or a brat starts barking at me. Then I play jacks with my friends, who are crouched on the ground. I enjoy laughing and playing with my friends.

Before we know it, it is time for lunch. We are having kim chee, rice, and noodles. Following lunch, there seems to be no activity planned out for us. We try to think of something fun to do. An idea comes to my mind. I want to go down to the end of the hallway where all the little infants are, which is a definite forbidden area. So I try to manipulate the other kids into going with me. I tell them that the caretakers are out of sight, so they will not get into any trouble. Reluctantly, they give in to me. Then we cautiously go down to the end of the hallway. All I want to see is if we can go down there and come back without getting caught.

Oh no, a caretaker sees us! We are in big trouble now. There is no getting out of this one now. I know what she is going to do, because I have been punished many times before. The caretaker makes us stand up against the wall in the gymnasium, then tells us to put our hands up over our heads for ten minutes. This is an unpleasant feeling that is now familiar to me, but I just cannot seem to learn my lesson. Following this incident, we all go back to the routine of playing.

About two hours pass until the next meal is served. The dinner consists of again kim chee and rice. Only this time it is served with hot and delicious soup. After dinner, we play some more. Soon it is time to take a bath.

Taking baths is another fun thing I like to do. All of us stand in line and wait for our turns for the caretakers to wash us. Two of us at a time get into a big, round, wooden tub so that we can be washed. Then we get out, and we get dried off with towels by another caretaker. Next we swiftly run naked to the other end of the hallway, go into a room, and find clothes for us to sleep in.

Afterwards, we go to the bathroom and brush our teeth. When everyone is finished getting ready for bed, we all go into a yellow room, sit down in a cricle, hold hands, and take turns praying. Finally, exhausted from a busy day of play, we go into the gymnasium, where our cozy beds await us on the heated floor, and we go to sleep, all lined up in a long row.

Connie Kreunen
"This is my family"
******************************************************************
Connie is extremely active with socializing with KADs she has met on Holt Heritage Camps and through FaceBook. She just celebrated her Arrival Day. We give thanks for being able to KNOW you, Connie. You Rock, girl!!


ConnieKreunen_PoolSharkConnie Kreunen plays a mean game of pool.
 
Due to the Chuseok holiday schedule I was not able to visit Moses Baby Home, this time.
Seoul_KunsanCity
Gunsan (spelling now) bottom near West Sea.
Gunsan or Kunsan (old spelling) is about 150 miles south on the West Coast of the peninsula. Gunsan is the location of a vital sea port and US Air Force base. Drive from Seoul on normal day is about 3.5 hours.

Moses Baby Home apparently still exists and I have obtained the phone number. However, due to the Chuseok holiday could not visit. I am actually outside Kunsan City in the village of my Korean wife, Nancy. Yes, they are wired. Peaceful and stopped raining finally.

Map_KunsanCity001
Kunsan/Gunsan City. Note on left the USAF base. Red Arrow show location of Moses’ Baby Home, and on upper right is the location of Nancy’s home village.
 

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MosesBabyHome_CUSatellite 



















I shall return, after making arraignments to meet the staff and take photographs of the facilities and children. This is part 1 of your Origins, Connie. More to come.


The Korean War Baby 

September 22, 2010

Resilience- Screening in SEOUL

Special Chuseok Screening of the
documentary film, "Resilience",
today on Sept 22 at 2pm!

ArtSonjeCenter Time & Date: Wednesday, September 22 at 2:00pm
Location:
Cinecode Sonje in Art Sonje Center
(near Gyeongbokgung Palace) Jongro-gu, Seoul
Admission: 7,000 KRW (purchase tickets at door)
For directions and more information visit:
www.resiliencefilm.com












  

Additional screenings of Resilience begin on Sept 30 at Cinecode Sonje.  If these screenings do well, more can be added at other theaters and cities thoughout Korea!
If you missed today, Additional Screening!!
Spread the word.
Resilience follows the remarkable journey of Myung-ja as she reconnects with her son after 30 years apart. From their initial reunion on Korean television to subsequent meetings and departures, they attempt to build a relationship amidst family betrayal and the legacy of adoption. But with so many obstacles – language, culture, distance, and unspoken loss – can two strangers find a way to become mother and son?
75 min | Subtitled in Korean and EnglishDirected by Tammy Chu | contact: mailto:info@resiliencefilm.com%20
Follow the film on...
FACEBOOK | YOUTUBE | TWITTER
The KWB asks “Are you a KADLinK (Korean ADoptee Living in Korea)?” Watch for screening after Sept. 30, this is a must see for adoptees, birth families, adoption professionals, Adoptive families in Korea. Go to the links above or here for updates!!!

Adoption apology stories - ABC Perth - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Australia recently has reached almost a zero level of Unwed Mothers giving up their children for adoption. Listen to this radio broadcast that interviews social workers, women who were unwed, some adoptees who have talked with their birth mothers and found that their mothers suffered over the years. The Balance of stories presented though is very good in that it shows a broad difference of cases, as it is in life. Even in this broadcast there are different ‘stories’ from different perspectives.

“Marilyn” complains that she was forced and treated like a criminal, she blames the doctors, social workers, etc. for being pressured as a young girl to give up her baby. 

Adoption apology stories - ABC Perth - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Sue” gave up two children for adoption and has not found them, but calls the social worker who first spoke,  a liar. Sue has not had contact with her own family since the birth of her baby. This shows to me that it was indeed the mother’s own family that pressured the Sue to give up her children for adoption.

Kathleen, given up for adoption, found her birth mother but after writing letters to her, her birth mother discussed it with her present husband and decided to NOT have contact with her daughter. This is a crushing story but is also TRUE in Korea, where most have seen on television many cases of Adoptees coming and searching for their birth family. Yet, to come out of the cloak of secrecy is a major thing that few can do.

One young man, adopted, related how when Australia changed laws giving permits to search and open records, that his birth mother wrote a letter to his adoption agency. He then responded and met his birth mother 14 years ago. THIS IS AN INTERESTING IDEA FOR KOREA. The KWB knows of some stories where adoptees or birth family have left letters and reunion sometimes takes place.

One mid-wife of 50 years has her own stories of babies still born and disposing them in waste baskets. She has been plagued with guilt. She has found some level of redemption and forgiveness in religion.

ON THIS NOTE: Even after ‘discovering’ one’s birth parents a new chapter opens up, with challenges for all. It is recorded that only 2,500 Korean Adoptees have had reunion with birth family. NOT all Reunions are happy stories, with some still cloaked in shame and embarrassment. This is a difficult course of action, costly in coming to South Korea, difficulty in communication, cultural misunderstanding. Yet, some of us WANT to do this, OTHERS may not want to upset their own Adoptive Family. It is a difficult choice for some, some may not want to find their birth mother/father/family. Each must deal with these questions in their own way.

In Korea we also hear mothers who have stories like this. The other ‘Shades of Gray’ of the Spectrum are across the board. ALL of these stories are personal and valid, though anecdotal they give only some snapshots. If someone were to make some kind of mathematical extrapolations they could invent Percentages- but the TRUTH is that there is NO definitive SURVEY of all the cases.

Yes, even in Korea there are cases on one extreme but also on the other. ALL CASES MUST BE CONSIDERED, Abuses must be stopped, such as the continued SECRET Adoptions. The coming Revisions of the Special Laws on Adoption are reported to combine all CIVIL CODE LAW Adoptions with Domestic (through Adoption Agencies) and InterCountry Adoption under the Hague Convention guidelines.

Let’s try to keep a BALANCED view of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

Today is the Harvest Moon celebration of Korea called Chuseok. Think of your Korean roots today, contact an adoptee friend and tell them Happy Chuseok!!

September 21, 2010

Happy Chuseok-Harvest Moon Celebration

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From Seoul Eats blog by Daniel Gray
Chuseok
Chuseok is the Korean version of Thanksgiving. During this holiday, the family gives thanks to their ancestors by welcoming the spirits into their houses to taste the ethereal flavors of the year's harvest. This may sound superstitious, but the real intention is to commemorate the departed. Because without our ancestors, literally, we wouldn’t exist. This is a family holiday and to be invited to a family's Chuseok celebration is a very special honor. Basically, the family is accepting the guest into their family to not only meet the living relatives that attend, but also the spirits that have passed.


During my first year in Korea I was bestowed this special honor by the Kim family in Gyeong Ju. Jikyeong was a student of mine and we became fast friends and she knew that I was new to Korea and I didn't have anyone to celebrate this holiday with. I accepted her invitation, but with one request: I wanted to participate in the preparation of the various dishes. This request was met with whimsy because Chuseok is seen by many as the “wife's burden.” I didn't know this. I arrived bright and early ready to assist in the kitchen.

What I learned was that the food lacks many of the flavors that Korea is famous for. Garlic and chili peppers are purposely omitted from the Chuseok table for these strong flavors are believed to offend the ancestors. Most of the vegetable dishes such as bean sprouts, spinach, minari (mugwort), eggplant, squash, sweet potatoes and gosari (bracken) were boiled or steamed. Most were flavored with sesame oil and a little salt. I helped Jikyung's mother prepare seafood soup that was flavored lightly with soybean paste, tofu, vegetables, and squid. I then helped fry some tofu, and three whole dried fish.

After most of the food was prepared, we made “song p'yon.” Song p'yon are crescent-moon shaped rice cake that are filled with sweetened red bean or roasted sesame seed sweetened with honey. These were the most labor intensive, yet fun part of the thanksgiving feast. Mrs. Kim first took rice flour and kneaded it with a little bit of hot water to bring the dough together. The dough then had to sit for an hour or so. With half the flour she mixed it with mugwort, which turned it a dark green color. The other half stayed ghostly white. Jikyeong, Mr. Kim, and I then sat around a low table and took a little rice flour and formed a flattened disk in the palms of our hands. Then we filled with either red bean or sesame seed paste and, by closing our hands, we formed the shape of the crescent moon. It was very important to seal in the filling because they were then steamed until they were soft and pillowy.
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Live Long and Prosper, Happy Chuseok to all.

PBS-POV Adoption Fact Sheet

PBS Adoption Fact Sheet

Facts About Adoption
  • In 2001, there were 1.5 million adopted children in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of all U.S. children.
  • The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's 1997 public opinion benchmark survey found that 58 percent of Americans know someone who has been adopted, has adopted a child or has relinquished a child for adoption.
  • The Hague Convention, passed in 1993 and implemented in the U.S. in 2008, seeks to prevent human trafficking and protect children's safety, promote transparency in the process by requiring agencies to disclose fees and expenses in writing, and provide adoptive parents with adoption certificates and other paperwork that eases children's entries into their new homelands.
  • Though U.S. citizens adopted nearly 13,000 children from 106 different countries in 2009, a little more than two-thirds of all children came from only five sending countries: China (23 percent), Ethiopia (18 percent), Russia (12 percent), South Korea (8 percent) and Guatemala (6 percent).
  • South Korea has placed over 100,000 children in the United States since 1958. China has placed more than 70,000 children, 91 percent female, with families abroad, 70 percent of those American. While the exact number of U.S. children placed for adoption in other countries is not reliably reported, a decade ago adoption experts estimated the number at 500 annually.
  • In 2006, the Chinese government proposed a new set of rules requiring that adoptive parents must meet certain educational and financial requirements, be married, be under 50, not be clinically obese, not have taken antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication in the previous two years and not have any facial deformities.
  • The organization Families With Children from China provides a network of support for families who have adopted in China and to provide information to prospective parents. There are currently more than 100 chapters of the group throughout the United States.
  • The estimated cost of adopting from China is $20,000 to 25,000.
  • While inter-country adoption may be the most visible category, the majority of American adoptions actually involve children adopted out of foster care. About 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. Of non-stepparent adoptions, about 59 percent are from the child welfare (or foster) system, 26 percent are from other countries, and 15 percent are voluntarily relinquished American babies.
  • Domestically, the percentage of infants given up for adoption has declined from 9 percent of those born before 1973 to 1 percent of those born between 1996 and 2002.
  • Adoption costs tend to differ according to the origin, race, sex and age of the child, as do waiting times involved, with white American-born baby girls costing the most and older black boys the least.
  • Adoptive mothers tend to be older than mothers who have not adopted children. Fifty-one percent of adoptive mothers are between 40 to 44 years of age compared with 27 percent of non-adoptive. Eighty-one percent of adoptive mothers are 35 to 44 years of age compared to 52 percent of non-adoptive mothers.
  • Although never-married persons aged 18 to 44 years are less likely to have adopted children compared with those who have been married, about 100,000 never-married women and 73,000 never-married men adopted children in 2002.
  • Currently Florida is the only state that bans adoption by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Some states, such as Mississippi, allow a man or woman to adopt alone but will not allow second-parent adoption by a same gender partner. The state of Utah prevents any unmarried couples from adopting.
  • Same-sex couples raising adopted children are older, more educated and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents. An estimated 65,500 adopted American children are living with a lesbian or gay parent.

For Your Information.

ABOUT « Mamalita – an adoption blog by Jessica O'Dwyer on Guatemalan adoption

Jessica O’Dwyer is the adoptive mother to two children born in Guatemala. Her essays have been published in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Adoptive Families, West Marin Review, and the Marin Independent Journal; aired on radio; and won awards from the National League of American Pen Women. She has worked in public relations and marketing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. She has also taught jazz dance and high school English.

Jessica has participated in the Squaw Valley Writers’ Workshop; attended classes at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California; and taken seminars in San Marcos, Guatemala with Joyce Maynard. She is a member of the Left Coast Writers and Writing Mamas, sponsored by Book Passage.

A graduate of the University of Delaware, Jessica grew up at the Jersey shore, the daughter of a high-school industrial arts teacher and former Radio City Music Hall Rockette. Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir is her first book.

ABOUT « Mamalita – an adoption blog by Jessica O'Dwyer on Guatemalan adoption

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir is the true story of an ordinary American woman’s quest to adopt a baby girl against almost insurmountable odds in Guatemala.

“Kirkus Reviews”:

“I’ve never given birth,” writes O’Dwyer, “but I know the exact moment when I became a mother: 10:00A.M., September 6, 2002”—the moment she and her husband sat in a hotel lobby, awaiting the infant girl they hoped to adopt. Yet this celebratory moment was soon overshadowed by the corrupt Guatemalan adoption system. The author recounts her initial naiveté, how she and her husband shelled out vast amounts of money to adoption facilitators and notarios in order to assist them in wading through the red tape of a foreign adoption. Yet nearly two years and thousands of dollars later, O’Dwyer and her husband remained no closer to their goal. Rather than continue her transcontinental flights, the author quit her job and moved to Antigua to focus on her daughter’s adoption full time. This decision led her into the dark side of adoption, a seedy terrain in which she was forced to weave through the barbs of a system set up to exploit the most money and resources from potential parents. Armed only with her elementary-level Spanish, she was forced to rely on a small band of trustworthy Guatemalan officials and potential American mothers struggling through the same experience. Her obsessive quest was constantly hampered by paperwork, signatures, DNA tests and countless other bureaucratic pitfalls. But despite the tragic circumstances, the optimistic author tells a hopeful tale in which she viewed every procedural misstep as a step leading her closer to her daughter.

A scathing critique on a foreign adoption system and the harrowing account of one woman’s attempt to fight it.

Kirkus Reviews

Heart On The Line: The best day EVER!! :)

Here is another blog that gives the viewpoint of transracial adoption from the point of view of Adoptive Parents. We must hear from all aspects of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

Heart On The Line: The best day EVER!! :)

Wendy2 Love is not bound by biological relationship only. Wendy’s story is just one of thousands of Adoptive mothers who is just beginning her own life long experience of being a mother to a child of different race and culture. The Korean War Baby wishes their family well, God bless you for putting your “Heart on the Line”.

Read here Wendy’s story of Why Adoption, why Korea. We must consider all of the Plethora of stories from every group within the Spectrum. Balance comes from listening to as many stories that we can look into and comparing them to others. The Good, Bad, and Ugly, all are valid, Yes?

Families Through Korean Adoption (Madison)

This blog is a very good example of a support network for Adoptive families to share on adopting Korean children. There are good blogs out there that show that some Adoptive Parents are trying to ‘do it better’.

Of course a few will put these people down, accusing them of ‘stealing children from poor countries’. THIS IS SO IGNORANT that it hardly warrants a reply. There is a majority of Adoptive Families that raising their children as their own, but helping them understand and work out their Adoption Identity.

Families Through Korean Adoption (Madison)

FTKA Madison
The mission of FTKA is to serve as a network of parents and children for social, cultural and educational issues related to Korean adoption.

Seems to be very helpful, worth looking into even for Korean Adoptees to understand their own Journey of Self-Discovery.

September 20, 2010

IKAA Gathering in the RED

First of all, we would like to thank you and our sponsors for a wonderful Gathering.

Although the IKAA Gathering 2010 was a great success, it has left IKAA with a deficit of $10,000 USD. To help IKAA and to help us creating IKAA events in the future, IKAA needs funds and requests the support of adoptees around the world. Make a contribution online today!

Even smaller amounts will be helpful and greatly appreciated. A special page with the names of all contributors (regardless of the amount) will be available on the IKAA website.


Please spread this message to adoptees, friends and families!


http://ikaa.org/en/page/547

Thank you for your support!

P.S. If you want to know more about tax deductable donations please contact us at info@ikaa.org . 


If you have been to IKAA Gatherings you know that they are great experiences for all to meet with Korean Adoptees from all over the world, or your own country. It helps to develop relationships, maybe even lifelong partners, plus helping to understand our own Adoption Identity, through Adoption Discourse and contacts.

Give something to help out. My suggestion would be to list only the sponsors and not the amounts, (Left hand not knowing what the right hand does). Think of it as your contribution to the NEXT Gathering.

Korean War Baby 

Gesture of Good Faith cont.

Gesture of Good Faith cont.

The Korean War Baby is currently deleting portions of names of individuals involved in the hmmm, election of GOA'L back in 27th of March 2010. 

In the spirit of moving towards a "sitdown" with the "group of 33" and others, I am deleting parts of names, just so Google and other search engines don't keep bringing them up.

WHEW, it will take awhile though so please check the first week of 28 March until April 1. These things do take time.

The Korean War Baby has declared an temporary Armistice.

September 17, 2010

Back to Manila

Cycles of Life

Cycles of Life, revolving links of friendships going back 35 years, my trip back again to Manila from Sept. 3 to Sept. 11 just a week ago was full of powerful ‘connections’. First, last month in August I attended the IKAA Gathering of Korean Adoptees in Seoul, 2010. Hundreds of KADs came from Europe and USA, to gather together in the 2nd Intl. Symposium on Adoption Studies, sessions from adoption professions and fellow adoptees, tons of fun things to do, developing friendships that will last lifetimes.
However, back to work teaching Korean children and adults to prepare them for their future in a globalized world. Then I found out that my dear friend from the film business years in the Philippines had passed away. He had struggled for some time with major heart attacks and other ailments. I know that he was getting ready to meet his maker and was quietly making preparations. One of his last wishes was for some of his remains after cremation, to be buried at sea.

Nick was a sailor, a fellow band of brothers who served in the Vietnam War. Nick would not brag about it but he was with the Navy Seal Team Recovery units that went into heavy hostile fire to recover US and Allied pilots who had been shot down inside NORTH Vietnam. We shared enough to respect each other as comrades-in-arms, a bond that had a special meaning for us. Henry DSC07175Strzalkowski, another PIGS IN SPACE (actor’s group in Philippine film making) founding member, was able to arraign through Ed, a relative, to go out to sea in Subic Bay. Sunday we scattered Nick’s remains after a simple ceremony and sharing of our last thoughts. Ed gave the litany for burial at sea and we shared a meal together afterwards.






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Putting out to sea, into the Subic Bay where Nick Nicholson first arrived in the Philippines.

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Henry, Annie, Charry, Tim, Juralyn, Ed, and I bade farewell to our friend.

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Henry and I at Subic Bay Yacht Club.
 Our friend Steve Rogers could not get down from Sagada due to closed roads. He was the fourth founding member of our actor’s group, 
Pigs in Space,
Steve Rogers, Nick Nicholson, Don Gordon Bell, Henry Strzalkowski, (1985)

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Makati, Metro Manila, P. I.
Henry used to manage some local clubs, “Heckle and Jeckle” and “Handlebars” both live band venues with pool tables, great food. Friday night I was able to catch the band at H&J.
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Rock N Roll Legends Jam
Then, we went to a private party of Filipino Blues and RockNRoll artists spanning two generations. What started as a one night party was already into the fourth night. You couldn’t pay for this non-stop Jam session, with over 40 top artists performing for each other. Fantastic time and we left in the wee hours of dawn.

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Henry is also a darn good vocalist.
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See more photos on Facebook or Picasa Web Albums (see left Column)
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Northern Samar Province
My friend Tim Ramey, who I had met in Seoul, Korea back in late 1996 and taught me all about teaching Koreans English, invited me to go down to the province of Northern Samar with his wife Juralyn.

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Don, Tim & Juralyn Ramey
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Tim's son NoyNoy Daniel Ramey

Juralyn's daughter Nathalie, 7 years old.

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NoyNoy, held by Grandma is overwhelmed with toys!
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Children of San Antonio, Biri Island, Northern Samar
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Hong Kong
Thursday, on to Hong Kong, where I met my actor friend Romano Kristoff, and our UechiRyu Okinawan Karate teacher, Sensei Robert Campbell. We had not been together the three of us since 1985! Romano and I were students at the Manila Polo Club Uechiryu school that Sensei Robert ran there.

UeChiRyu, Okinawan Karate School-Manila Polo Club.
Don, Romano, Grandmaster George Mattson, Sensei Robert Campbell (tallest).

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Dining out at Outback; Posing in front of Sensei’s Samurai Sword display.
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Of course, Romano is showing his age but in great shape, body, spirit, and mind.
Rumors about Romano have been great wild exaggerations, actually he has been delving into deep philosophical studies over the last decade. Watch for his book on “Reflections” to be released in Spanish/English. He read in Spanish and translated some to me, very insightful and I was amazed at the broad knowledge he has learned.
Well, that’s all folks, for now. What a blast to the past, yet I hope that I do have a few more years left on this earth, God willing.
Peace and Prosperity to all.
Happy Chuseok on Sept. 22nd.
The Harvest Moon celebration is coming next week in Korea.

Skype