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 16, 2010

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


  1. Thank you so much for posting this and helping me spread the word about my book, "Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir." I appreciate how you say "It is one of thousands of stories that represent the range of situations and realities." So true--every story is unique, and this is ours. My experience of becoming a mother through adoption was so powerful, I felt compelled to write about it. Thank you again.

  2. Jessica,
    You are welcome because I believe in hearing from every part of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Your perspective and knowledge gained from your own long efforts IS powerful and I would like to get perhaps some excerpts to post from the book. Could you send me part of a chapter maybe on email?

    God bless