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. 

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