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 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.
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In Defense of Adoption (Published in Korean Quarterly, Fall 2010, Vol 14, Num 01)
chajunghee_morrison85

Stephen C. Morrison/MPAK



Introduction
“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…”
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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…

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