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.


October 28, 2010

Adoption - Adoptive Families

“Adoptive Families” presents an incredible source for everything about adoption for Prospective Adoptive Parents and those with adoptive children already. Just one of many websites that help provide help for “getting it done better”, the wide range of articles give constructive and practical information.

Adoption - Adoptive Families

AdoptiveFamilies_WebsiteHome

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In This Thing of Ours-Adoption the focus usually is on the Adoptee, and birth family, however, the Adoptive Families are the other main part of the Adoption Triad. Beyond the AT is also all the others, Adoption Professionals, Social Workers, Government Officials, U.N. and Hague Convention experts and personel, etc.

Again, from my own viewpoint, Adoption itself is NOT the best nor the worst, it just is one of the Multi-tiered solutions to life’s dealings. When, for whatever reasons the birth parents/family CANNOT or WILL NOT take responsibility for a child, AND after local government has exhausted all means to do such, THEN Adoption is a viable, legal, and next best step for a child.

Some have complained that children “have a family” and are not “orphaned”. Perhaps they need to check the United Nations and HAGUE Convention terminology for “ORPHAN”.

An orphan is determined by this definition in the Bible in Hebrew and Greek:

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries:

H3490
Hebrew - 
יתום
yâthôm
yaw-thome'
From an unused root meaning to be lonely; a bereaved person: - fatherless (child), orphan.

In the New Testament, the Greek is found:

G3737
ὀρφανός
orphanos
or-fan-os'
Of uncertain affinity; bereaved (“orphan”), that is, parentless: - comfortless, fatherless.

The issue of being fatherless was critical in most societies, but in the Jewish traditions both parental and maternal lines are important. Many verses from the Protestand and Catholic Christian Bible (Which both translate from the same texts of the Torah, Writings, and the Prophets of Judaism-the Catholic includes other books) and the Koran speak about giving help to “widows and orphans”.

It is based on the etymology of the words that UNESCO and others have based the terminology to mean both “Paternal” orphan and “Double” orphan. So it is ‘correct’ to say that a child that has been ‘given up’ by legal means or ‘parental rights’ have been surrendered by one or both parents is considered an ORPHAN.

Korean War Baby also notes this from Wikipedia for “orphan”:

wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan

 

Definitions

Various groups use different definitions to identify orphans. One legal definition used in the United States is a minor bereft through "death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents".[3]

In the common use, an orphan does not have any surviving parent to care for him or her. However, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and other groups label any child that has lost one parent as an orphan. In this approach, a maternal orphan is a child whose mother has died, a paternal orphan is a child whose father has died, and a double orphan has lost both parents.[4] This contrasts with the older use of half-orphan to describe children that had lost only one parent.[5]

So we see that the acceptable term ORPHAN is based on the original meaning of the Hebrew and Greek. It DOES mean a child with ONE or BOTH parents who have died, or given up parental rights. Hague Conventions also use the broad meaning to determine the status of a child. Look here for more:

UN Guidelines for alternative care of children

In the case of Abandonment, with no legal papers, a child is considered an orphan. In modern times however, care should be taken to search for any child through media, internet, police records, etc. before the child is processed for adoption.

We must try to do it better. One day, hopefully, the Republic of Korea (also known abroad as South Korea) will sign and follow the Hague Conventions for ALL Domestic and InterCountry Adoptions. They will also increase the support for the Unwed Mothers of Korea who DO choose to keep and raise their babies. The KWB supports a Multi-tiered approach to the issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

NEXT: The Korean Women’s Development Institute’s latest report on “How to Improve Government Welfare Services for Low-Income Unwed Mothers”.

 

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