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.

November 28, 2010

“In Defense of Adoption” Stephen Morrison Part 3

Steve Morrison is an adoptee and the founder of the Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea (MPAK), which was created to bring about positive changes in the Korean adoption culture since 1999. For more information, or to contact MPAK, visit: or
Part 3 Stephen Morrison "In Defense of Adoption" Korean Quarterly, fall, 2010
Coerced Unwed Mothers
Allegations have also been made that the agencies have coerced unwed mothers to give up their children for adoption; this has been widely misunderstood as well. While it is true that there have been many cases where social workers in agencies have tried to talk the unwed mothers out of their desire to keep their children, there is also the other side of the coin that most people don’t think about. The social workers in the agencies are all too familiar with the difficulties facing unwed mothers to raise children in Korea. Often the social workers don’t see the determination and the desire by the unwed mothers to keep their children but only see the difficulties ahead of them for both.
Most likely, the social workers are mothers themselves, and more experienced and mature than most unwed mothers. In their services to unwed mothers, they have seen many unwed mothers who decide to keep their children, only to return them later for adoptions when they realize how difficult it is for a single mom to raise a child and be accepted by the families, friends, and the community. Knowing the difficulty, social workers may feel that they are compelled to convince the unwed mothers to give up the children rather than be burdened by them at such a young age. Such motivation could easily be misunderstood.
The Korean War Baby notes: While stories of Unwed Mothers being pressured to give up their babies are reported it certainly does NOT represent a percentage of cases. There is no “ALL” in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. One person’s experience does not set a standard, yet some groups tend to present the information as though it represents ALL. Stephen brings up many good points that even social workers in USA or UK, must evaluate. The number of cases of “Returned children” by mothers who could not manage are also not known. Back to Stephen:
I have also heard instances where some birthmothers relinquished their children, then later returned to reclaim their children, only to discover that those children have been assigned or sent abroad for
adoption. In these instances, the agencies should have waited before assigning the children to be adopted. The revised adoption law now being considered by the legislature in South Korea includes a waiting period designed for birthmothers to reconsider their decision to place a child for adoption. It is encouraging, however, that adoption social workers are now a lot more open to a birthmother’s desire to keep her baby.

In recent years, more and more unwed mothers are choosing to go public with their single parent status and take on the challenge of keeping their children. There is now a network of unwed mothers in South Korea called the Korea Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN).
…I speak as an adoptee who lived the orphanage experience. Had I not lived in the streets of Korea at age five, and then in an orphanage for eight years, I am quite sure that I would not be able to defend adoption with such conviction. Without having experienced the pain of being homeless and living in an orphanage, I could easily be persuaded to be suspicious of the agencies, as many are.

For without suffering and without having gone through the orphan life, and without understanding what happens to orphans living in Korea, it is quite understandable for (SOME) adoptees to view the adoption process as a business of adoption agencies which are selling off children for profit. This misunderstanding alone would make any adoptee angry or bitter.
Alternatives to Adoption
So what would have been the alternatives for (now adult) adoptees if they were not adopted through ICA? Orphans growing up in Korea have historically faced incredible challenges as they are subject to strong social stigma. Compared to ordinary children with families, orphans in Korea experience what I call “status discrimination.” I have heard and read about the experiences of racial discrimination as described by adoptees living in Europe or in the U.S. But this type of discrimination is nothing compared to the status discrimination that orphans have to endure. By status discrimination, I am referring the denial of opportunities for good education and good jobs that orphans experience, not only because they lack the financial and social support of a family, but additionally because the society discriminates against them simply because they are orphans.

In the old days, three to five percent of orphans were able to go to college. Although educational opportunities for orphans have increased in recent years, they still fall significantly below educational opportunities of ordinary Korean children with families. …The status discrimination of orphans does not end with limited educational opportunities. If a young man with an orphan background wishes to date and marry a woman with a family, often the woman’s parents reject the man even though the woman loves him. If two men (or women) of equal ability apply for the same job, and one grew up in an orphanage and the other in a normal family, the applicant who grew up in the orphanage usually loses out.
Although the social stigma against orphans has lessened greatly over the years, it still presents a big challenge for children growing up in orphanages. Not many orphans are adopted domestically in Korea, as they are mostly older, and Korean nationals tend to prefer adopting infants, in order to keep the adoptions secret.
(KWB notes: SECRECY of Adoption in Korean Society in Civil Code Law and Domestic Adoptions through the Adoption Agencies is 97% even among Christian families BECAUSE of the stigmas against their adopted child. I understand that many keep it secret to protect the child BUT THE CHILD HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW.) Back to Stephen:
(By “secret,” I am referring to the practice of a prospective adoptive mother going through an elaborate deception to pretend to be pregnant and/or to plan a well-timed move to another part of the country, then presenting the adopted baby as a birth child at the appropriate moment)

Out on their own at 18
Orphans in Korea must leave the orphanages when they turn 18 years old. Often these orphans are emerging from the orphanage just out of high school, with very few marketable skills. Leaving the orphanages, these young adult orphans are usually given a onetime severance allowance of anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. But this meager allowance runs out very quickly.

With no financial support or family support available, going to college would be impossible. These young adults go through extreme hardship once they leave the orphanages. A few find ways to stay with friends and/or extended families, but not all of them are that fortunate. Most wind up working in low-paying jobs at which they work long hours. Some may become successful teachers, pastors, nurses, etc., but these types of successes are very few compared to others who haven’t fared so well. In many areas of their lives, adults with orphan backgrounds must be vigilant to keep their background a secret, for fear of status discrimination.
The Korean War Baby urges you to study his entire report, only ten pages or 15 minutes. Love to hear from anyone with comments or conflicting viewpoints. The KWB will guarantee you editorial content will be exactly what you write to me.

China Warns U.S. as Korea Tensions Rise

USS George Washington aircraft carrier and it's task force will conduct exercises off SW coast of Korea.
DANDONG, China—Beijing on Friday lodged its first official protest of a joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise planned for Sunday, even as the aircraft carrier USS George Washington steamed toward the region.
North Korea also responded angrily. "The situation on the Korean peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war," the state controlled Korean Central News Agency responded Friday to the maneuvers, which are set to take place in the Yellow Sea between the Koreas and northeastern China.
The strong talk was the latest fallout from North Korea's hour-long artillery attack of a South Korean island on Tuesday that killed four people. The next day, the U.S. and South Korea said planned joint exercises would go ahead over the weekend, heightening fears in some quarters that already-tense relations between North and South Korea—and their respective international protectors, China and the U.S.—could be heading for a showdown.
Yet China's outwardly defiant response belies a more delicate political reality: Beijing's continued support of North Korea's erratic, martial regime is beginning to extract real costs. China's statement Friday included a face-saving formulation that appeared to open the door for a scenario China has long sought to avert—a U.S. aircraft carrier, a potent symbol of U.S. military might, plying the edge of Chinese waters.
The KWB notes: The rest of the article explains that China back in July of this year protested against a US Carrier (same one that WILL not take part, the USS George Washington with it’s task force) in ANY part of the Yellow Sea. Korean’s call it their West Sea. By clarifying that as long as the task force stayed away from the 200 Nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone limits it would be okay. Off the SOUTHWEST COAST of Korea is outside of this limit, giving both China and the US/South Korea wiggle room that also tells North Korea that China is giving tacit approval for the exercises.
What this means is we can relax. NK will probably do ‘saber rattling’ (making a lot of noise) fire a few shells but nothing like last week. WSJ also points out that China’s Pres. Hu Jintao has a trip to Washington in January to meet with Pres. Obama. So a compromise that saves their face and does not prevent but rather sets guidelines are very reassuring.
But Don’t believe the KWB, read the entire article.

November 23, 2010

Stephen Morrison-“In Defense of Adoption” Korean Quarterly

Stephen Morrison "In Defense of Adoption" Korean Quarterly, Fall, 2010  PDF files on the KWB’s igoogle page.
Part 2
Excepts from “In Defense of Adoption”, published in Korean Quarterly, fall, 2010
Allegations against ICA
Allegations abound against ICA, and somewhat less against domestic adoption. Some groups allege that adoption agencies are engaging in child trafficking, which, if true, would be a criminal act. The idea of child trafficking suggests the adoption agencies have conducted fraudulent activities by forging documents to send children abroad solely for economic gain. While I do not deny that adoption agencies often had to make up adoption documents, I disagree that the intent of the agencies was done to increase profit. If any agency has sent children abroad for financial gain, then its activities are criminal and they deserve our contempt. However, I strongly believe that this was not the case; adoption services in Korea were developed for humanitarian purposes. In seeing the needs of so many homeless children, and knowing the obstacles that lie ahead for them as orphans growing up in a society with strong social stigma against them, adoption advocates have acted responsibly to find better opportunities for children to grow up in loving homes abroad.”
In the old days, it was not unusual for the agencies to accept into their care many abandoned children who arrived with little or no information. In the absence of any information, often children’s names were assigned by the agencies.”
KWB Notes: On a number of websites in the Adoption cyberspace one will find strongly “implied and exaggerated claims” that suggest from their point of views that somehow Adoption is the “Great Satan” of life. Some have even publically claimed that 80%, yes, 80% of KAD adoptees who have come to GOA’L have had “Falsification of their documents beyond wrong Date of Birth”. At the recent IKAA Gathering in Seoul last August, this was presented with no documentation by T.R.A.C.K. at their session. I would like former Family Search director Mads Them, former staff of GOA’L to confirm these numbers.  Also Sebastian Vanderlinden, the most recent Family Search director to address these claims. Witnesses were shocked and asked how they knew such “facts”. They can attest that the number 80% was indeed spoken by Tobias Hubinette. Such data MUST be investigated thoroughly and not just thrown out there. So, Mads and Sebastian, please give the KWB your personal email and please confirm or give us your own estimates of “Falsified documents”. The KWB will pursue most strenuously, sincerely, and vigorously if these allegations be true. WHY THE HORROR!!!
Hmmm, Stephen comes up with some possible reasons for “wrong data”:
“In addition to names, their date of birth and the place of birth were made up as well. There were many children who had no records at all of their birth origins. Children were found on the doorsteps of orphanages, police stations, markets, clinics, and churches. Some of those children had scribbled notes attached to their clothes with only names and the date of birth, but no other information could be found. It was very typical that children came into orphanage care with little or no information.
I, (Stephen) for one, did not know the date of my birth when I was first admitted into an orphanage at age six; the orphanage director made up a date. He did what he had to do to establish a portion of my identity that was missing. The orphanages and the adoption agencies in care of these children assigned names, birth dates, and other information about the children because having this information was a critical step before they could be adopted, either domestically or overseas. Can this be labeled as document forging? Can this be alleged as child trafficking? Clearly this is not the case.”

KWB Notes: Well!! When you combine this with the presentation at IKAA of the Adoption Agencies on the very same reasons that “Information on a child was made up” we discover WHY. It seems NOT to be understood by Anti-Adoption folks out in cyberspace that you cannot even process a child into FOSTER CARE or INSTITUTIONS without such basic Identity information.

OH, PLEASE, tell us good people, with 30,000 Abandoned, another 37,276 declared DISABLED, and approximately 12,000 MIXED-BLOOD, how many just might have had NO NAME, DOB, POB, etc. So if you as a KAD discover “Oh, my identity was assigned to me, oh boohoo” HELLO?! This was done in order for YOU to have a chance at life! Learn what you can, but remember that you must consider the circumstances of your birth.

Yet, in Korea there are more than our numbers who have been adopted IN FUCKING SECRET. Would you like to be THEM?? Well, probably many of these secret adoptees know that they are different, some have found out but they must stay quiet. They are our ‘cousins in adoption’.  The extreme pressures our mothers who gave birth to us must go through each day. They have not forgotten you- but must deal with the shame, guilt, EVERYDAY. She must keep secret from her present family the little secret of her past. How many watch the television shows and wonder about where you are and how you might think of her? I believe that with all the Adoptees IN-Country and Overseas the number of MOTHERS is close to 500,000! That is HUGE, wrap your mind around THAT.

In many cases your birth father, plus siblings, extended family, MAY also know that you are OUT THERE. Sometimes they don’t give a shit, but most of the time they DO. The stories of Reunions are all across the Spectrum. 

In most cases Birth Mothers gave us up in hope for our future. Keep that next to your heart, next time you wanna whine, because that doesn't help you find healing. Bitching is far more proactive than just whining. Join some of us in complaining and even demanding that the Korean government INCREASE services and financial support for Unwed Mothers who want to bring up their children. EVEN if her own family rejects her, she should/must have that as a viable option beyond Abortion or Adoption.

The KWB wholeheartedly supports the NGO's that are bringing the issues up to the Korean public and government officials to know that every woman must have the option of keeping her child. (He does NOT support stopping ICA or In-Country adoption both Civil and Domestic since it is the WOMAN who must make decision to abort, keep, or give up the life that is growing inside her). A woman HAS the right to CHOOSE, and if she chooses NOT to be a mother, well we must let her do that. She is giving up her "right to motherhood". Counseling for ALL the options should be available to her.  The KWB believes in a Multi-tiered approach to the complexity of This Thing of Ours-Adoption.

We who have been adopted from Korea are a special group of people that includes many nationalities where we were sent. In a sense we are a part of the Korean Diaspora in a unique way. No matter what country you grew up, you may have not 'fit in' because of your being "Asian" and even Mixed-Blood had similar experiences. We are in that sense all "Bananas" you know, Yellow outside White inside. Even if you spend years learning Korean language and culture you are still a mixture of the culture you were raised in and some Koreans will never think of you as Korean. 

SO? Get a grip, know your limits, but go for it! Seek to 'Koreanize' yourself as much as you want, keeping in mind the limitations but to thy ownself be true and to heck with the few who will tell you "You cannot speak Korean very well". Don't get mad, just remember that a new generation of Koreans are actually MORE accepting of us. Even recent polls show that up to 70% of school children think Multi-cultural people in Korea are acceptable to them. THAT IS AMAZING. This shows Korea is SLOWLY CHANGING for the better.

So please, stop just whining that you were adopted. 'Grow a pair', 'suck it up', decide how far you want to go SEARCHING for instance. BE PREPARED for surprises, you might just get what you ask for. THAT may open a whole new thing to deal with. READ, READ, READ many different points of view, keep balanced and compare stories. For those who think, "Woe is me, I are adopted!" HEY, go back to the beginnings, ask yourself "WHY were you given up?" When you were born is very significant to WHY.

Some seem to think that Koreans should be ashamed that ICA continues just because they are now the 14th or 15th ranked country for GNP. For that reason they SHOULD take care of their own. But Koreans are NOT giving up children because of being poor anymore. THIS IS NOT VALID, WHY bring it up? They don't give up children for that reason, so this is a lame, moot, and outdated. The Society and Family however are not yet able to accept unwed motherhood, this is still a taboo. Making laws to encourage domestic adoption has not changed the hearts of the people either, but by presenting the stories of Unwed Mothers could help. Remember that the attitudes toward Unwed Mothers, adoption, foster care, daycare centers, etc. are still comparable to the West, say 20 or 30 years AGO. It will take time to see changes in Korea happen. BUT IT IS HAPPENING, sloooooowly. I will be 'gone' but many of you will see the day that ICA from Korea may cease because there will be no more need for it. THAT AIN'T NOW. (The KWB is sorry but he is a rude and crude, unlettered, proud former Marine, who shoots figuratively from the hip).

The Reasons for children being given up for adoption HAVE CHANGED over each decade, for instance since the late 1980 after the 1988 Olympics, the Republic of Korea (Known by many as South Korea) has tried to stop InterCountry Adoptions because of the embarrassment and shame. They set deadlines for 1995, then extended it again to 2012 after financial crisis in 1998. In the last decade though the average number of children born to Unwed Mothers continues to average 7,500 born each year to UNWED MOTHERS. The number of women keeping their children has increased from 11% to about 33% that shows the changing times and attitudes despite the hardships they must go through. The KWDI has records that in the latest ten year period over 50,000 women KEPT their child. WOW, but double that number GAVE THEM UP. This is the inconvenient truth. 

To those who can only WHINE and PINE, I say 'HEY, GET OVER IT', seek counsel, get strong, BUCK UP, YOU KNOW YOU AIN’T WHITE so MOVE ON. Just deal with it. Go learn Korean Culture but remember you cannot replace the past. You will never, never be a Korean, SO WHAT? You are a unique person and not alone, find support, seek healing and forgiveness, get balance in your life. It is a Never Ending Journey but you CAN DO IT.

November 22, 2010

Stephen Morrison-“In Defense of Adoption” Korean Quarterly

 Stephen Morrison "In Defense of Adoption" Korean Quarterly, Fall, 2010  PDF files on the KWB’s igoogle page.
The Korean  War Baby takes a close look at Stephen Morrison’s recent article published in Korean Quarterly, fall, 2010. Titled “In Defense of Adoption” Stephen takes an in-depth look at the issues that are currently strongly debated in Adoption Discourse, especially by SOME of those living in the Korean motherland.
In Defense of Adoption (Published in Korean Quarterly, Fall 2010, Vol 14, Num 01)

Stephen C. Morrison/MPAK

“The overall mood and climate on adoption in Korea over the past few years has been shifting drastically away from being viewed as positive, to being viewed as negative. Of all the causes, the greatest impact in the Korean society has been from the work of a few adult adoptees groups that have spoken up strongly against the inter-country adoption (or ICA), and even against domestic adoption as well. Some Korea-based adult adoptee organizations have joined forces to bring about the demise of both Inter-Country and Domestic adoption by advocating the closure of adoptions in Korea.
     These organizations, in separate efforts, have accused the adoption agencies of profiting from child trafficking, adoption document forging, coercing birthmothers to give up their babies, and have blamed the Korean government for allowing this practice to go on for many years. They have also advocated that the Korean government should do more to create an environment for birthmothers (KWB notes that here Steve means specifically “Unwed Mothers” - a term that KWDI, NGO’s, and the Korean Government Min. of Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs, uses for unwed single women who give birth and keep their child) to raise their own children and avoid the separation of children from their birth families. Further, they blame adoption for being the main cause of the separation of children from their birthmothers. Their position is that if adoption can be stopped or discouraged, then there will be more birthmothers that will be able to keep their own children.
     Some of their demands are definitely valid and ideal. Creating an environment for birthmothers (Unwed Mothers)
to be able to raise their own children is a good thing. Most of the groups have proposed particular steps the society could take to achieve this, such as providing single mothers with more substantial financial assistance. They have also helped single mothers’ groups and carried out programs designed to help change the negative social stigma against single mothers so that they won’t feel negative pressure from the society that often makes difficult for them to keep their children.
     While I strongly support the notion that birthmothers should be able to raise their own children, I do not agree that the adoption agencies have provided adoption services over the years because of a profit motive, and I do not agree that adoption is the cause of separation between the children and their birthmothers. Indeed, I can show that the main cause of children becoming homeless in Korea is that the majority of birth families who abandon their children simply can’t or won’t raise their children. Therefore, adoption is simply a response to so many children that have already been separated, and not the initiator of the separation…”
Click on the link above to read all of the article!!
KWB notes: On the terminology of “Unwed Mother” and “Birthmother”. Each term has it’s own shades of meaning, just as when an Adoptee refers to their “Mother” if they are referring to the only mother they have “known” in Adoption Discourse narratives (stories written by an Adoptee) the term “A-mother, or Adoptive Mother, A-Mom, etc. helps to differentiate WHICH one they are speaking about.
Thus for Birthmother in Stephen’s article I point out that Stephen uses the term “Birthmother” for a couple of reasons. When a Korean woman, single or married, gives birth to a child she IS a Birthmother. If the child is then relinquished for Adoption there are THREE options.
First is Civil Code Law Adoption which is one of two ways a KOREAN Family may choose to Adopt a child. KWDI report Reviewing Issues on Unwed Mothers_KWDI, May 2010 confirms this, don’t just believe me. Done through the civil courts this is arraigned through private connections. Notable case of a failed Civil Code Law Adoption was the Dutch diplomat  and his wife, who are infamous for abandoning their Korean daughter in Hong Hong. Some have wrongly claimed this was ICA but was a Civil Code Law adoption (GOA'L article).
Second option is the Domestic Adoptions done through the Four Adoption Agencies (Holt-Korea; KSS; SWS; Eastern) which has stringent background checks and is regulated much more transparently. However, both Civil Code Law and Domestic adoptions remain 95% SECRET and the Adoptive Parents are able to register their “new child” with the new Family Registry with Individual Registry system started in 2008. Thus, Adoption remains shrouded in Secrecy, Shame, and Suspicion.
Third option, Inter-Country Adoption- but actually for a Birthmother it is NOT in her actual control…If she signs the Relinquishment papers to give up her child for adoption, the first FIVE MONTHS a child is available ONLY for Domestic. (Note that those done by Civil Code Law are NOT ACCOUNTED for in governmental figures HOWEVER, the Civil Courts DO HAVE RECORDS of where the “Unknown” children go). THUS, at FIVE MONTHS OLD if a child has not been adopted by Civil Code Law OR Domestic Adoptions through an Adoption Agency, THEN AND ONLY THEN can they be processed for INTER-COUNTRY ADOPTION.
Part TWO-In depth coverage of article “In Defense of Adoption” coming soon…

November 16, 2010

Point of View-

If you are living in USA you can watch these three films. Please remember that each is a separate story, just part of the thousands and they do NOT represent all stories. What they do is show some just some of the difficulties in Identity, self-image, self-worth, cultural, ethnicity, etc. that International or TransRacial adoption have to deal with.
Korean War Baby


Point of View,


In 2010, POV will feature three films about adoption — Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy by Stephanie Wang-Breal (airing Aug 31); Off and Running by Nicole Opper (airing Sep 7); and In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee by Deann Borshay Liem (airing Sep 14) — and launch a national public awareness campaign to examine issues facing adoptees and families who choose to adopt.

Watch all three films online through November 2010.

TAGS: adoption, brooklyn, california, china, international adoption, korea, new york, transracial adoption

Stephanie Fast-Abandoned Korean War orphan

stephanie2_350x Abandoned at the age of four to wander the war-torn Korean countryside, Stephanie Fast has a remarkable story of survival. She was persecuted and tortured because of her bi-racial ethnicity. Abused on the city streets and finally discarded and left to die in a garbage dump, Stephanie was miraculously rescued by a World Vision nurse.

A few years later, a childless missionary couple visited a World Vision orphanage and met Stephanie, who was covered with boils and dirt, lice infected, worm ridden and cross-eyed from malnutrition. Stephanie was so dead emotionally that she rejected compassionate love. However, this missionary couple heard God speak to their hearts, "She is the one for you…" The Merwins obeyed and adopted Stephanie.

Despite the rich, healing love her adoptive parents poured into her , Stephanie's past tormented her throughout her teens. A deeply personal encounter with Jesus Christ enabled her to exchange her pain with Him at the cross, and see her identity and purpose in the light of God's love.

Miracles happen. Stephanie's story proves that the God of the universe intervenes in the lives of individuals. Using her story, Stephanie touches on the depths of sin , shame , guilt and lack of trust that inhibit our ability to receive the supernatural gift of God's love. When we choose to establish ourselves in Christ, all things become new. We see ourselves as His treasure and ultimately extend that value to those around us.

See More at Stephanie’s Blog: DestinyMinistries

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

The Korean War Baby in his relentless search for Truth and Balance in finding that truth from all quarter presents the release of the journey that Jessica O’Dwyer went through in her quest to complete, in the proper manner an International adoption through Guatemala.

“ I am an adoptive mother to two children born in Guatemala. My book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir (Seal Press, 2010) is available now on Amazon and at jessicaat bookstore near you.”
Contact Jessica at
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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.

Sobering article about corruption in Guatemala in UK’s Guardian

Stevan Whitehead posted this article from the UK Guardian about corruption in Guatemala on the listserve known to the adoption community as the “Big List.” The report cites shocking statistics such as “Nearly 15 years [after the Guatemalan civil war peace accords], more people die in Guatemala every year than did at the height of the civil war… a staggering 53 per 100,000.”
As someone who tries to follow Guatemalan politics, I have read many of the article’s statistics elsewhere. But to see them gathered in one place and to ponder their impact is almost mind-boggling.  Will the situation ever improve? And if so, how? The irregularities committed in some (still unknown and debatable) percentage of adoptions processed in Guatemala can be viewed as only a tiny tip of the country’s enormous iceberg of corruption. 
Please take time to read the full article here:
“On one level, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir is the story of a woman’s fight to bring home her Guatemalan-born daughter, in the face of huge obstacles. But Jessica O’Dwyer has written more than an adoption story. Her book explores the nature of parenthood—the fierce love and loyalty that makes it possible for us to do more than we ever knew we were capable of, inspired by the presence of more love than we knew we had to give. It’s a terrific adventure story with an unlikely heroine who discovers, through her fight for her child, that she is stronger and braver than she ever knew. I was rooting for her all the way through to the book’s gripping and deeply moving ending.”
- Joyce Maynard, author of Labor Day, At Home in the World, To Die For

“As an adoptive mother to two teens born in Latin America, I couldn’t put Mamalita down. This honest and balanced memoir reveals the challenges and rewards of international adoption like no other book I’ve ever read. I recommend it to anyone involved in adoption—adoptive parent or child, birth mother or foster parent—and for those who wonder what it feels like to be part of that experience. Mamalita brings the tumultuous yet uplifting journey alive. A must-read.”
- Leceta Chisholm Guibault, adoptive mother of two teenagers born in Latin America, Board Member of the Adoption Council of Canada (1999-2009), Staff Member of The TIES Program (Adoptive Families Homeland Journeys), Recipient of an Adoption Advocate Award
The Korean War Baby is gonna rush and order his copy. Everyone in This Thing of Ours-Adoption needs to know from all angles the complex issues of the Spectrum, from Adoptive Families, Birth Mothers/Fathers/Families, Adoptees, and NOT JUST LIMITED TO HEARING ONLY ONE POINT OF VIEW!! No one can say that this is a case of “ChildLaundering” or stealing a child from it’s culture. It is one of thousands of stories that represent the range of situations and realities. Go check it out, add it to your understanding.
Korean War Baby

November 15, 2010

YouTube - 1885 - 1908 Old KOREA photos before Japanese Annexation


It is interesting to see the old Korea in these photos before the Japanese Annexation started in 1910 until Liberation in 1945. This is not meant to represent all that Korea was at that time, but rather gives us a glimpse at how far Korea has come since then. Some have claimed that Korea was ‘helped’ by the occupation but this comes mainly from conservative Japanese politicians who try to make this justification for their imperial attempts in Asia.
Despite the years under foreign rule and the war between the communist North and the Democratic South, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) has transformed into the 14th largest country based on GDP. Meanwhile, Communist run DPRK (North Korea) remains mired in poverty and hunger even now, demanding more food aid in trade for brief family reunions and continuing denials of sinking the ROKS Cheonan, a patrol ship that was sunk with lose of 46 sailors.
cat-watches-you-give-a-cheeseburger-to-the-dog    Yet, some very badly informed and misguided KAD’s continue to claim that US and UN troops presence in the South are “Occupation” forces. Don’t they understand that the two Liberal Presidents of ROK could have easily asked the US and UN troops to LEAVE.

Are they ignoring FACTS that 22 UN countries have treaties still in place to send MORE troops to protect the sovereignty of the democratic Southern part of the peninsular if the Commie Jackasses attack again? Yet they use loosely the terms ‘Occupation forces’ and “Imperial” when referring to United States Armed Forces, serving at the invitation of the democratically elected government. Even President Roh Moo Hyun, who claimed that he would not ‘kow-tow’ to the US, DID NOT ASK them to leave. HELLO, US troops are here to protect the interests of the country.
Do terrible things happen? Has there been some incidents with violence by individual US Troops? YES, and there has been Korean women who fell in love and married US and UN troops. (Warning: extreme SARCASM coming)-

"Oh,No!The Horror!"

These same ill informed KADs WHINE and MOAN that "Korean women are being taken advantage as sex slaves by the US troops"?! BUT THE FACTS are that most Cross-Cultural marriages today are in fact now FOREIGN NATIONALS, mostly women, coming into the country for Korean MEN. ALSO, Foreign English Teachers from many countries both Male and Female are also “Falling in Love and getting married”. Businessmen and women from foreign lands are also ‘taking advantage of Korean women’?

Oh, stop it! You are killing me! Are all these foreign devils working in the country, “OCCUPATION IMPERIAL FORCES”?!!! HAHAHAHA, PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK!!! Get the Damn Facts right. Sorry to rant but such idiotic and prejudicial statements in recent films screened at IKAA made such claims. I sure would like to let the Korean Wives of the members of “VKW” know that they were alleged to be “Prostitutes, sluts, women of low class” as is implied in some extreme quarters of the Anti-Adoption Adoptees Association (This is my own term for them, they don't really have a group formed in name-KWB). Why it might be a good idea to post their names so that the Korean Wives of VKW, can set them straight on their 'former occupations' before marriage. Can you say "CATFIGHT"? Watch out, don't mess with Korean Ajuhmahs married to Foreign Devils!

Interview with Top U.S. Official on International Adoptions | Creating a Family

Creating a Family is on FaceBook/blog and full of insights and resources for all. This was posted recently by Dawn Davenport. The Korean War Baby has personal experience with trying IVF method unsuccessfully to create his own family. As an Adoptee from Korea in the First Generation in 1956, he has sought information from many sources, to maintain a balanced and informed view.


Welcome to Creating a Family

A nonprofit providing education, resources, and support for those touched by infertility or adoption

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For many people, the road to parenthood is a bumpy one, and they need help in creating their family. Creating a Family provides resources and support for this alternative journey, regardless whether your path is infertility treatment or adoption.

Check out our award winning weekly one-hour radio show, Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption and Infertility at the radio page. All old shows are archived on The Big List.


Sign up for our weekly email updates at the bottom of this page. We won’t spam you with frequent emails or share your information with anyone--ever.


Read the weekly blog by writer, Executive Director, and mom Dawn Davenport.



Posted by Dawn - November 12th, 2010 - 2 Comments

Published in * Adoption

The US State Department is in charge of processing international adoptions to and from the US.  The person at the head of this section at the State Department is Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues.  Last week, in honor of National Adoption Month, the State Department held a press conference with Ms. Jacobs to discuss the status of international adoptions.  When Ambassador Jacobs talks, those of us who care about international adoption should listen since she is about as high up in the US government as it gets when talking about international adoption.

Interview with Top U.S. Official on International Adoptions | Creating a Family

She did have some interesting insight into the US withdrawing from the international adoption pilot program in Guatemala.  She said: “In terms of the pilot project, every time we asked for details about it, there weren’t any. So it turned out there really wasn’t a pilot project to which – in which we could participate. And in looking at the procedures and regulations that had been put in place, not very much had changed since adoptions had been shut down. So we are trying to work with the Guatemalan Government to help them set in place proper regulations and procedures, and at the same time, close the cases that are in the pipeline. There are hundreds of cases that need to be resolved, so we’ve asked them to focus on that.”

She also addressed an interesting situation that resulted from the evacuation of children from Haiti to adoptive families in the US immediately after the earthquake.  I imagine we all have heard that several children were evacuated that did not meet the strict criteria set up by the State Department.  I have never found the exact number of kids that fit into this category until today—turns out there were twelve.  Considering the chaotic conditions people were working in and the high state of emotions, twelve seems like a relatively small number.

About these twelve cases, Ambassador Jacobs said:

“During the crisis, 12 children were also brought from Haiti to the United States who had not previously been matched with families here. … A delegation from [the US government] traveled to Haiti about four weeks ago to work with the Haitian Government to resolve these cases. …We sent a team down there to meet with the Haitian officials and with the parents of these children, and we expect that these cases will be resolved very soon.  …
QUESTION: Resolved in what way? Will the children go back?
AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Resolved in whether the parents want to relinquish the children so that they can be adopted in the United States or –
QUESTION: So the parents have been identified?
AMBASSADOR JACOBS: Oh, yes. I mean, and the children have – were in contact with their parents throughout this process. …They’re in a very safe, loving atmosphere, …but it’s up to the parents to decide whether or not they want to relinquish these children for adoption. And if they don’t, we will send back the children whose parents want them returned.”

You can read the full transcript or watch a video.

Well, there you have a top official of the US State Department giving updates on the situations on International Adoptions in several “Sending countries”. Focus on Haiti- it seems that after all the chaos during and after the devastating earthquake earlier this year, the State Department has identified only 12 cases that slipped through without proper parental relinquishment papers signed. Only by regulating carefully can separation of birth parents/mothers be prevented from occurring in all cases.

The Korean War Baby agrees with making certain that  US government officials and United Nations NGO’s must strictly enforce the guidelines on International Adoptions to prevent abuses and possible ‘child-laundering’. As long as guidelines are adhered to then and only then should InterCountry Adoption be allowed.

The KWB would prefer that families of ethnicity be at the top of the list…then families with other Trans-racial adopted family members, parents who have already experience and training made available on the issues that their adopted children will face growing up in a blended family. There are resources available for all to “do it better” and perhaps all Agencies could provide courses that Perspective Adoptive Parents must attend to prepare them. Adoption is not the first choice nor the perfect solution, but a loving home is certainly a child’s right as well. We must consider all circumstances before rendering judgments and decisions that will impact all concerned.

Now if corrupt Haitian officials could only focus on the reported cases of Sex Trade across the border to the Dominican Republic!   

November 11, 2010

The Founding of the Marine Corps - Marine Corps

Assn.Patch  CampReasoner_S-2 CampReasoner_White, LaVerne, Bell, Bilboa

The Korean War Baby celebrates the US Marine Corp’s 235th Birthday!! To all my fellow US MARINES, and all Marines of every country, especially the Royal Marines of the U.K. and ROK Marines (Rep. of Korea).

Semper Fidelis!!!

Once a Marine, Always a Marine.


1775: Founding of the Marine Corps

A legacy is born

During the American Revolution, many important political discussions took place in the inns and taverns of Philadelphia, including the founding of the Marine Corps.
A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. 
The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines.
As the first order of business, Samuel Nicholas became Commandant of the newly formed Marines. Tun Tavern’s owner and popular patriot, Robert Mullan, became his first captain and recruiter. They began gathering support and were ready for action by early 1776. 
Each year, the Marine Corps marks November 10th with a celebration of the brave spirit which compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.

The Founding of the Marine Corps - Marine Corps

First to Fight

First to fight for Right and Freedom, The United States Marines…”


Marines are held to the highest standards, ethically and morally. Respect for others is essential. Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.



Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to face fear and overcome it.

sandsIwoJima saunders


Commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in every Marine.


Marines. The Few. The Proud.



Semper Fidelis

More than a motto, a way of life

Semper Fidelis distinguishes the Marine Corps bond from any other. It goes beyond teamwork – it is a brotherhood and lasts for life.
Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what.
Becoming a Marine is a transformation that cannot be undone, and Semper Fi reminds us of that. Once made, a Marine will forever live by the ethics and values of the Corps. 

There is no such thing as an ex-Marine.

Semper Fidelis, to all my Brothers and Sisters, The Korean War Baby.



November 9, 2010

My Chiricahua Apache Genetic Roots

My Chiricahua Apache Genetic Roots
Chiricahua warriors were the most feared of Apache Nation
Geronimo, War Chief/Medicine Man, Chiricahua Apaches. 

The Chiricahua were the first to fight the Spanish. 1895, Geronimo was finally forced to surrender his band. He was the last Native American to make war against US Army.
My Chiricahua Apache Roots
Through DNA tests they can now determine Ancestoral groups based on the HaploGroups/types. I found out that my birth father has Spanish, Mexican, and Chiricahua Apache genes from the "Y" chromosome testing to determine HaploGroup/types. 

Very complicated but this site DNA-info will help to understand the basic science of Genetics that has developed only since the Human Genome was finally completed in 2003.

Men can have both Paternal lineage, through the "Y" chromosome that has the fathers DNA markers that show the Ancestors back through many generations. Maternal lineage comes from every cell's mitochondial DNA and so females can only find their Paternal lineage from a brother, father, or other male family member.

The sites below have information that helps to understand the basics of this fascinating new discovery that has been able to trace the First Man and First Woman. The estimates are that somewhere in Kenya, Africa, the first "Adam and Eve" can be traced back to about 60,000 years ago. Hmmm, those who are Half-Blood and male Korean Adoptees might consider looking into the tests.

Go check some of the sites out, maybe you might find some interesting things about yourself.

Jillian Graham Korean Updates Update

Jillian Graham continues her journey with interviews on Korean radio show (English station) and appearance LIVE on KBS2 "GuSarami Pogo Shipda" "The Person I am Longing to Find", Thursday Nov. 11th.

Look for special email updates from Jillian on her FaceBook page.

November 7, 2010

“In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee” Mu Films Update-

The Korean War Baby endorses all books, films, television, etc means to express and help Adoption Discourse to help all involved in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. From MU Films this latest update.
MU Films Updates
Hello, everyone -
I wanted to let you know that in honor of National Adoption Month, POV has extended the online streaming (only available in USA unfortunately) of my two films, FIRST PERSON PLURAL and IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE, through the end of November. Also, if you're interested in additional resources to celebrate adoption this month, please check out the fabulous POV website for discussion guides, essays, and special video features.
Grace_VR_IMG_3759 10
I also wanted to let you know that in addition to screening IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE  around the country, I am working on a new short film that continues to explore the meaning of identity and family. The film, MY DONOR'S NAME IS...explores language, identity and kinship among donor-conceived children and their families.
Produced and directed with fellow filmmaker, Daven Gee, MY DONOR'S NAME IS...has been awarded a matching grant of $10,000 from the East Bay Community Fund. Please check out our short sample and if you like the project, help us meet this match by making a contribution! You can do so online now. Your contribution will allow us to interview dozens of donor-conceived individuals and families, and even some donors. The deadline is Dec. 15th!
Who is your "family?" Maybe your family is your group of friends, or your extended family. You could be an adoptee, an adoptive parent, or part of a single-parent family, an LGBTQ family or a foster family. However you define your family, POV wants to hear from you. Help expand the definition of "family" by submitting a video - no longer than 5 minutes - to 'This Is My Family.' You might receive an iPad or an iPod Touch! The deadline: November 15, 2010.
Upcoming Screenings of IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE

03 DB Looks at CJH 3
Director and Producer Deann looks for her 'double'.
 IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE will be screening in the coming weeks at the following locations. If you are going to be in any of these areas, please come join us!
St. Paul/Minneapolis
Saturday, November 6, 7:00 PM
Minnesota Transracial Film Festival
Troy, Michigan
Saturday, November 6, 3:00 PM
Korean American Cultural Exchange (KACE)
Korean American Cultural Center
Santa Cruz, CA
Monday, November 22, 5:00 PM
Communications 150/Studio C
University of California, Santa Cruz
Petaluma, CA
Sunday, December 12, 7:30 PM
Petaluma Film Series
Guangzhou, China
December 6-10
Guangzhou International Documentary Festival
If you'd like to keep up-to-date on our activities and screenings, please visit us at or join us on Facebook.
Thank you very much and happy viewing! 
Deann Borshay Liem
To ensure receipt of our emails, please add Mu_Films@mail.vresp.comto your Contacts or Address Book. Thank you!
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View Online Version
Mu Films produces and distributes documentaries about social, political and cultural issues in Korea and America today.
Okay, go out there and click on the links, educate yourself and others. Send a contribution and support other films like “Resilience” and “Adopted”, and so many others.
The Korean War Baby

November 6, 2010

HalfKorean-Online community for Mixed-Race Koreans

KWB Spotlight: Korean War Baby / Don Gordon Bell

New Spotlight on the Korean War Baby blog and its founder Don Gordon Bell.

Korean War Baby is a personal blog by Don Gordon Bell that discusses various topics and issues related to Korean adoptees as well as his own personal life journey as an adopted Korean War Baby.

Two central themes that the Korean War Baby focuses on are the discussion of “This Thing Of Ours-Adoption” and “Adoption Identity is a Lifetime Journey.”

Here is the link: Spotlight: Korean War Baby / Don Gordon Bell
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