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.


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!
POV's THIS IS MY FAMILY Project
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 www.mufilms.org or join us on Facebook.
Thank you very much and happy viewing! 
Deann Borshay Liem
Producer/Director
IN THE MATTER OF CHA JUNG HEE
To ensure receipt of our emails, please add Mu_Films@mail.vresp.comto your Contacts or Address Book. Thank you!
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Mu Films produces and distributes documentaries about social, political and cultural issues in Korea and America today.
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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

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