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 2, 2010

Vietnam Adoption - Holt International Adoption Agency

In the complexity of This Thing of Ours-Adoption, the Korean War Baby points to this page from Holt Children’s Services International on the current, and past situations from Vietnam.
Vietnam Adoption - Holt International Adoption Agency

“Children in Vietnam need loving adoptive families”

Holt's Vietnam program is currently closed to new applications. There are no adoption applications being processed by Vietnam to the U.S at this time. The Vietnamese government is in the process of drafting a new adoption law. We will update our website as soon as information is available regarding adoptions reopening to the U.S.
Holt originally worked in Vietnam in the early 1970s with an extensive foster care program.  An important memory of that time was “Operation Babylift”, Other Links,   when almost 400 children were evacuated from Saigon for international adoption in the United States during the last few days of the war.
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*From Holt International magazine, 50th Anniversary 2006:
image When Executive Director Jack Adams sent a Holt survey team to Vietnam in 1972, the situation for children there was similar
to those in Korea at the time of Harry Holt’s initial visit. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, which began in 1973,
left thousands of mixed race children—Amerasians or, as the Vietnamese called them, buidoi, the dust of life.

By June 1973, Holt had established a reception center in Saigon and set up an extensive foster home program so that children could have the individual attention of a family while Holt worked at finding homes for them. Holt set up two childcare centers in Saigon and one in DaNang. At that time, some authorities estimated that Vietnam had over 900,000 orphan children, 25,000 of whom lived in orphanages and were in desperate need of permanent homes.

In the final chaotic hours of the war, as it became apparent Saigon was about to fall to the North Vietnamese, Holt leadership chose to use its own chartered flight—a decision that kept Holt children from being among those who died in the crash of a U.S. government jet that was part of what became known as the “Baby Lift.”
Before mid-April, Holt transported nearly a thousand children from Vietnam to the  United States. Most traveled on a chartered PanAm jet with a volunteer crew—a jet for which Holt had to purchase special insurance for the one hour it would spend on the ground in a war zone.


Holt staff refused to take children from desperate parents. Only children who had been carefully screened and legally relinquished for adoption were sent to the United States. Holt’s bold decisions and steadfast commitment to ethical practice protected the lives of children and saved families from the anguish of correcting wrongs.

The fact is that the departure of these children from South Vietnam was the continuation of an intercountry adoption program that had been going on for some years. The movement of the children was accelerated due to the growing crisis in Vietnam. But, with negligible exceptions, the children met the criteria for intercountry adoption and virtually all of them were in some stage of processing when the decision was taken to speed up the movement.

Except for a minor role in uniting Amerasian children with birth parents in the United States, Holt was gone from Vietnam for the next 15 years. Holt returned to Vietnam in 1989 at the invitation of the government of Vietnam. Today, Holt’s efforts in Vietnam stretch from Binh Duong in the south all the way to Hanoi in the north. And like its earlier version, the new Holt-Vietnam program serves through a steadfast commitment to do whatever is best for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children.
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(Back to Holt website article)
In 1989, at the invitation of the Vietnamese government, Holt returned to Vietnam to assist the government in the operation of orphanages and the provision of services to orphan children.
Today Holt Vietnam has developed a strong reputation within the child welfare community in Vietnam.  Holt continues to provide services to homeless children and at-risk families and maintains two offices in Vietnam - Hanoi in the north, and outside of Ho Chi Minh City in the southern province of Binh Duong.  Because of Holt’s long-term and broad range of programs in Vietnam, it enjoys a strong and long standing relationship with the government authorities responsible for inter-country adoption in Vietnam.

Holt’s staff in the U.S. and in Vietnam provide individual assistance to parents through every step of the international adoption process and support parents and children as they begin their lives together as a family.
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The Korean War Baby 'pontificates' on these matters.

RussAK47
Russian AK-47
 The KWB served in the Vietnam war, with a US Marine Recon unit, only one of the elite units of our nation’s services. I was a young American who was of Mixed-blood and adopted in 1956 from South Korea just three years after the war ended, I volunteered to do what my own American Birth Father had done- go to a far off land and serve, to help them have freedom.




Lean&Mean
Lean and Mean, AhRuhRah
Unfortunately, my government in executing the Vietnam War, did not have the fortitude to fight the total way it should have been done. Just like Korea, the politicians ‘feared’ China and Russia getting more involved. MY GOD, these two countries openly both funneled war materials by Railroad and by sea into the Haiphong harbor because no sea blockade was put in place until Pres. Nixon blockaded and rained down B-52 arclights when the Communists failed to keep their end of the bargains. Now that is how wars should be fought, no holds barred, no quarter given until victory as in World War II. Oh, well, it was not to be.
 Instead our politicians sold us and our South Vietnamese allies out at the Paris Peace Talks, we pulled out and left them with no more support and pissed away the sacrifices of tens of thousands of American lives. We are about to do the same in Iraq and Afghanistan, with our present administration.

I would like to address the issue of “some” adoptees, especially  a few of the Vietnamese adoptees, again representing only a faction, who seem to blame their ‘sorry pitiful lives’ ONLY to the fact that they were adopted.

2151426160_19ce9ebdcb
Steaming Pile of Bull Poop

OH, BooHoo! These folks whine about their “being stolen” from their culture? and having a hard life, because they have learned Socialist/Communist huge pile of bullshit, claiming that “the imperialistic Americans came and took them away”. READ what was happening in those days!

WELL, THAT IS WACKED!!! We KNEW that hundreds of thousands of children would suffer under the Communist rule that was coming. But I don’t wanna say that they were “lucky”…OH, NO, heaven forbid that I would say such a thing. Their idiot claims that all children were taken without proper documentation is certainly NOT TRUE when it comes to Holt. In fact the agencies had to refuse desperate parents that tried to give their children up SO THAT THEY WOULD HAVE A BETTER LIFE.

Were the parents horrible to do this? CONSIDER THIS, you who are so damn Ignorant of the history of your wonderful Communist Vietnam, which by the way is following the way of China and RUSHING towards Capitalism. Hmmm, what is happening might cause Uncle Ho Chi Minh to turn over in his grave!! My trip to Hanoi in 2006 was an eye opener for me, the absolute robbery of tourists just like some EU countries famous for pickpockets, flagrant ripping off unwary tourists. "One Dollar!" one hears, though you could buy 3 or 4 for the equivalent in Vietnamese dong.
515RRMA8ZQL__SL500_AA300_ According to the report of United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees, 1/3 of boat people died at sea by killing, storms, illness,and food shortage. That is roughly  500,000 a mixture of ages-men, women, and children- are estimated to have died trying to find freedom.







BoatPeople_jpg
Vietnamese-Boat-People-Larry-Who 


Vietnamese_boat_people_rescued

“Currently, there are over 1.6 million boat people spread all across the world :  USA, Australia, Canada, France, England, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea,  Philippines.”
Have some folks forgotten the thousands, no 1.6 MILLIION Vietnamese (Not counting estimated 500,000 we DIED in the attempt), who fled the country after the FALL of SAIGON in April of 1975?
UH, Vietnamese BOAT PEOPLE they were called, and thousands of them were subjected to damn Pirates who boarded their leaking overcrowded vessels, raping women and children, stealing every valuable, leaving them with no food.  


In my interaction with Vietnamese people, especially during the filming of “Apocalypse Now” where several hundred Vietnamese extras were brought straight from the Refugee Center in Bataan province. This is how I spoke with countless people who I befriended and then they told me horror stories. Remember that anyone who was a Christian or had served in the armed forces or in the former government were persecuted, many were inprisoned in "re-education camps for several years". THEY LONGED FOR FREEDOM!!


"FREEDOM!!!" shouts William Wallace-BRAVEHEART


I can also guarantee you that Half-Blood children of the Foreign troops were DESPISED and HATED. About 20% of the Operation BabyLift children were Mixed-Blood. Others had fathers who had been killed during the war, their mothers DID INDEED give them up for a better life. Those who DID NOT get out had to live under Communism, spent their lives as third class NON-PERSONS. For just like South Korea, the Confucian social system looks upon children of such “foreign devils” as cursed. Even orphans are NOT looked upon favorably by Asian culture and social systems, certainly NOT Fricking Communism.

Life is really messed up, and Adoption is not the perfect nor best choice. Family Preservation IS best, but if that is NOT POSSIBLE then other options must be done. Multi-tiered solutions to the complexities of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. BUT PLEASE, stop this foolishness about WHINING about 'loss of culture and language' in such cases. HEY, go back to and volunteer in the present over crowded orphanages. It is good that the Vietnamese government stopped ICA until they studied how to do it better. Unfortunately thousands of children are left homeless because both mother and father have abandoned them. Sound familiar?

BUT to the Whiners and Moaners-Please spare us your pitiful cries, it falls on educated ears that know the facts of history. Even inconvenient truths far outweigh these cases of real abuse. Wish we could ask the first generation of Vietnamese refugees these questions, pretty certain the answers. For those who DO NOT remember living under communism though they can dream of their ignoramous dreamworld of socialism. HAH!

The Korean War Baby 


 

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