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 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

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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"
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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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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 

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