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.


January 29, 2011

Korean American family: Facebook helps Fontana man find sister missing for 37 years - chicagotribune.com

 Just a few weeks ago the Korean War Baby asked if there was SOMEWAY for Korean Adoptees to use Facebook to find lost siblings or birth family members. Many Koreans are now signing up on Facebook now and as THIS STORY shows, it worked for them. They all lived in the USA, but couldn’t it work as well for cross-referencing for Koreans and KADs, scattered across the globe?
BloggingHard_BadHairDay
Somebody help with the technical stuff, how to make it Bi-Lingual. Any suggestions on making a Facebook Page where anyone could post pictures, search under names/alias, or Adoption Agency, etc. A SEARCHABLE SITE? Come on, we need to make it easier for KOREANS to access the information and scan the photos. Who knows how many more Reunions could take place?

Help me out, I don’t know how to DO this, having a Bad Hair Day just trying to figure out HOW TO DO IT.
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Facebook helps Fontana man find sister missing for 37 years - chicagotribune.com

Steve Inman of Fontana always wondered what had happened to his older sister Sally, born in South Korea and missing for 37 years. Finally, Facebook brought them together.

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Diane Drinkwine, whose maiden name was Chum Ku Yi, holds a baby photo of her biological daughter, Sally Blue, who appears in the background on Skype. Drinkwine and her other daughter, Connie Files, along with her son, Steve Inman, were reunited with Sally after Sally's daughter spotted a Facebook page posted by Steve in hopes of finding his long-lost sister after 37 years. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

For Korean American family, an ache 37 years long

By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times
January 28, 2011
One night in August, after his wife and 2-month-old boy had long fallen to sleep, Steve Inman got to thinking about family and heredity. With a rare moment to himself, he pulled a box of photo albums out of the hall closet at his home in Fontana.
He found an old picture of himself as a boy and laughed at how he and his son had the same round ears and the funny top lip that flipped up like the bow of a ship. He perused faded images of his mother as a young woman in South Korea, and then came across his oldest sister, sitting in a meadow before he was born.
She was about 8 months old then and had the same cast to her face as his boy, the same squint.
Seeing her in his own first child, he felt an overwhelming rush of sadness, a sense he had let her down. She had been missing for 37 years now. Although he had never even met her, it hit him how much a part of him she was.
He wondered if she was still alive.




How Sally disappeared was never quite clear to Steve.
He was told his father, Steve Sr., was stationed with the Army in Korea when he married his mother, Chum Ku Yi. When she went into labor with Sally, they couldn't get to the base hospital in time, and the baby was born at a house in the village of Chang-mal. The couple raised her for about eight months in Korea with the help of a nanny, an old woman they knew.

The Inmans were set to move to America, but the U.S. and Korean authorities would not approve documents stating that Steve Sr. was Sally's father. So they left her with her grandmother while they went back to Steve's hometown, Salt Lake City, to work out the problem.
Growing up, the younger Steve was told his parents got a call one day from the grandmother, who said Sally's nanny had come to visit because she missed the little girl and wanted to take her for a few days. The old woman never returned. Sally was gone.

In America, the Inmans were having problems. He wasn't making much money and was drinking, and they didn't have the means to go to Korea to look for the little girl. Chum gave birth to a girl, Connie, then to Steve. A few months after Steve was born, their father left them.

Chum remarried, settled with the two children in California and went to Korea several times, ostensibly looking for Sally. She came up with nothing.

The girl's absence haunted the family. "Sally should be here," an uncle would say at Christmas dinner.

Framed pictures of her sat on top of the television and hung in the hallway of their home in Fullerton. In an album, there was a photo of the nanny. Steve and Connie saw evil in her face.
Connie always felt the ache of something missing, as if she was homesick even when she was home. Steve worried about what might have befallen Sally. Was she an orphan, homeless?

When the Internet began to flourish, he occasionally typed her name into search engines. But then, he thought, the nanny probably changed it. He sent e-mails to news stations, trying to gin up interest, but never got a response. A private investigator told him it would cost $30,000 just to start. Steve wrote to Oprah, knowing how she liked reuniting people.
::
That night in August, Steve, then 33, resolved to try again. But how? He didn't know where to start.
He decided to create a Facebook profile for "Sally Inman (missing child)." He posted 12 photos of her and wrote that she had been abducted.

Nothing happened. He became lost in his work, editing video of mixed martial arts fighting and raising Miyka, the baby boy he had with his wife, Donya. The day after New Year's, he was relaxing, watching the Food Network, when his cellphone rang. Not recognizing the number, he let it go straight to voicemail.
He waited for the voicemail to finish, then listened.

"Steve, I was on Facebook and I noticed you were looking for your sister and I read the whole thing . . ." Her voice sounded faintly Southern. "And I would like you just to give us a call because the girl you're looking for is actually my mom."
He was suspicious. He suspected it was a prank.
He called back anyway.

"Hold on, let me get my mom," the girl said.
His heart was beating hard.
"Is this Steve? This is Sally," a woman said, also with a Southern twang.
Steve could barely speak. No way, he kept thinking. This is a scam.
"I have those same pictures," the woman said.
"Well, umm." Steve struggled for words. "Maybe we could take a paternity test."
"I know who I am," she said, sounding annoyed. "I don't need a paternity test."
They went back and forth, not really saying anything, as Steve's mind raced through the possibilities.
"Well, my mom would know it's me," the woman said, "because I have a birthmark on my lip."
Steve dropped the phone. His mother had told him this before. This must be Sally. "I'm going to call you right back," he told her." I need to call my mom."
::
That afternoon in Lillington, N.C., Sally Blue had asked one of her daughters, Candace, to type her birth name into Facebook.
Sally learned she had been adopted when she was 9.
Her adoptive mother, Chun, told Sally that her biological parents could not bring her to the United States, because her blood type didn't match one of them. Chun's mother was Sally's nanny and took care of her when the parents left.

The Inmans sent money and letters but eventually stopped. The nanny was too old to raise her, so Chun and her American husband decided to adopt her.
They moved to Texas when Sally was 3.
She was an only child and always wondered about her blood parents. Whenever she got in trouble, Chun told her she was "wild, just like your father."

She saw how close her friends were to their parents, and wondered why her mother was so strict and distant. Was it the cultural gap? Or was it because she wasn't really hers? When Sally would go to the doctor, she could never fill out any of the questions about family medical history.

When she had children, her curiosity grew. She learned her blood type was O positive, not A positive, as she had been told all her life.
Chun had told her the names of her real parents, and occasionally she sought them out on the Internet but found nothing.
This was the first time she had tried Facebook. Her daughter pulled up a screen.

There was her baby picture. "Oh my God, that's me," Sally said, starting to cry. She couldn't believe her family was looking for her. She didn't know she had a brother and a sister.
She saw Steve's number at the bottom of the screen.
She stood looking at it for 10 minutes, paralyzed.
"Are you going to call, Mom?"
"Candace, you do it."
Sally was spinning. She desperately wanted to talk to her lost family. But these people thought she had been kidnapped. Were they going to go after her parents now?
::
Connie and her mother raced to Steve's house when they heard the news. Steve called Sally back on speaker phone, and they all talked and cried.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," their mother sobbed. "I don't know what happened. I'm sorry that 37 years went by. I thought you were eating out of a trash can. I'm so glad you're alive."
Sally's husband bought a webcam at Wal-Mart so they could see each other on Skype. Sally showed them the same photo that inspired Steve to look for her, then a photo of herself when she was 5. It was surreal. In Steve's mind, Sally was always a baby. Seeing her at 5 somehow helped him make the leap from that old photo to the woman before him.

Connie, 36, and Sally, 38, kept staring at each other through the computer screens, studying each other's faces and mannerisms. Each of them had their legs folded and their heads tilted onto one hand. They could be twins. They both talked fast and had the same quick wit and laugh.
"It was like looking in a mirror," said Sally.
::
Connie and Steve helped pay to fly Sally and three of her seven children to Southern California three days later. Their father flew in from Colorado. They rarely left Steve's house for a week, just talking, comparing notes about their childhoods, ribbing one another.
Sally felt as if she had been robbed of 37 years. She was the older sister. She should have been there for their graduations, their weddings, their children's births.

They all tried to piece together what had happened in South Korea in 1974, a time when the mixed-race children of American soldiers and Korean women were deeply stigmatized.Steve Sr. told Sally that he and her mother were not married when she was born, and that the U.S. Embassy tried to make him go through the expensive process of adopting her to bring her to the U.S. He was just a 21-year-old soldier with no money and wasn't about to adopt his own daughter.

Her mother, however, told her they were married and tried everything to get her out of the country.
Steve and Connie didn't know what to think anymore. Their image of the evil nanny blurred. The woman was dead, and they'd probably never know what she did, good or bad.
 
Sally wasn't sure if she wanted to have the questions answered. Had her biological parents really come looking for her? Or did they give up? How exactly did she end up with the nanny? And if the parents who raised and loved her had truly kidnapped her, why would they tell her about the adoption and her biological parents? Her newfound parents felt like strangers. But it was as if she had always known her brother and sister.


When Connie came down with laryngitis, Sally joked that, thank god, now the rest of them could finally talk. She even told Connie and Steve — older sister-like — to settle down when they started to bicker while ordering food one night. "I'll whip both of your asses," she quipped.

Now they talk every day, wishing they lived closer. They're still reconfiguring their perceptions of what happened so long ago.
The questions linger. But they're not letting that get in the way. Steve, Connie and their mother are flying to North Carolina next week.
joe.mozingo@latimes.com
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

2 comments:

  1. Don Thanks A lot, I am Steve Inman and this is what I was thinking after this news gets out it will raise awareness and help lost ones reunite with their families. I thought it wouldnt work because if the other party is not searching then how could it work if only one person is searching, but if awareness takes place then facebook will open up to a whole new world of reuniting lost loved ones.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Steve,

    Wow, that was fast! I just posted a short time ago. Are you a member of 'Half-Korean.com' or did you see my posting on my Facebook? I would love to hear more from you as your family walks through this reunion.

    Yes, Facebook could help ALL involved in This Thing of Ours-Adoption to consider the search.
    I also believe that if only the Korean People were able to do searches (in Korean Language) it might increase the small number of reunions. Did you know that less than 2,500 KADs have actually made contact and reunion? Over 75,000 KADs have visited Korean so that is less than 2.7% I was told.
    Stories like yours encourage those KADs who want to search but don't know where to start. Korean television has been presenting these stories for 15 years plus, but I believe that Korean women may know but cannot get past the fear of telling their present family. Some cases have led to break up of marriages, and many don't make contact because of that, in my own opinion. As more stories hit the news it might hopefully encourage women and men to step forward.
    Like your older sister and you, she was worried how you perceived her adopted family (like they had kidnapped her). Hey, I have a great idea! How about sending the link of your story to some Korean reporters. I would ask them to get the story out in KOREAN LANGUAGE, because every story will help people to think and ponder, "What IF?"
    Send me more from your own and all family members on my email, if you want the KWB to update your stories. Thank you and your family for coming out in public.

    ReplyDelete

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