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.


December 4, 2010

Changes in laws on Int’l marriage – Sharp Rise in Int’l Marriages

 

Changes in laws on int’l marriage - INSIDE JoongAng Daily

November 18, 2010

A new regulation will take effect Friday requiring that brokers for interracial marriages must collect the career and health records of the couple and have the records confirmed by both sides before the marriage.
The regulation is in response to the practice of foreign women with fake identities marrying Korean men in an attempt to get legal citizenship for a job in Korea. Targeting these women, brokers have connected them with Korean men who are underprivileged or divorced, but they have disguised their status from the women.
A client who wants an international marriage will now have to submit a marriage record, health report, proof of employment and criminal record.

Sharp Rise in International Marriages

International marriages between South Koreans and foreigners accounted for 10.8 percent of all newlyweds in the country in 2009, up more than three-fold from nine years earlier.
The Korean Social Trends report by Statistics Korea showed there were 33,300 international marriages last year (2009), a sharp increase from 11,605 in 2000.
“…more men in rural communities seeking foreign wives since local women prefer to live in cities after marriage,” the state agency said.
Marriages involving a Korean groom and foreign bride accounted for 75.5 percent of international marriages, the report said.

(The KWB notes: Apparently the makers of a certain docu-style art films depicting Korean Adoption, they seem to suggest that mainly “American Imperial occupation” forces make up the majority of Foreign spouses EVEN in the present times. It is implied by the director/producer that US Troops married prostitutes are the majority of present day MultiCultural Marriages.  That is Wack based on this article and hundreds of Korean Wives of Foreigners who ARE NOT former “Foreigner’s whores” or “Jap Jangi” 잡장이).

According to the report, the average age difference between a Korean man and foreign bride is now 11.1 years, up from 6.9 years nine years ago.
The age gap is higher than the 2.2 years tallied for the average Korean groom marrying a Korean bride in 2009. The difference in age between a Korean bride and a foreign groom was 3.7 years. (The KWB notes: Some cases have 15-20 year differences of Korean men and their ‘child brides’. Can you say Do Doong Nom ‘Cradle Robber’?)
On child-rearing issues, 47.6 percent of South Korean women surveyed said despite the overall increase in day-care centers, taking care of their children was a burden in keeping their jobs. This is a gain from 29.3 percent who said child care hindered employment in 1998(This is reflecting the fact that Unwed Mothers who ARE keeping their children has increased over the last decade as well.)
There were 510,000 menial foreign laborers in the country last year, up from 110,250 in 2001.

YES, Change is coming to South Korea! They have to DEAL with all the MultiCultural marriages/children and it has started in the Rural countryside communities. This is all good…Maybe someday in the near future Korean Society will accept Unwed Motherhood and Adoptees without prejudice and embarrassment. Oh, to see that day but it has not come YET.

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