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.


February 12, 2011

An International Forum on InterCountry Forum


Adult Adoptee Survey | Speaker's Bureau | Adoptee Resources February 2011

International Forum

Holt International and Adoptees For Children are hosting an International Forum in Washington D.C. April 13-16, 2011. In addition to adoption professionals and adult adoptees, there will be international guests from a variety of countries. For more information and Forum registration at http://www.holtinternational.org/conference/internationalForum/overview.shtml.

Please forward information about this event to your networks. We look forward to seeing you there!
 


Holt Adoptee Camp Counselor

We are looking for
enthusiastic adult adoptees to be camp staff with us this summer.  The staff is required to work with Holt for five weeks from July 12-August 13.  This time includes 1 week of staff training before camps begin.  Once the camp season is under way, we’ll travel together across the country to serve hundreds of transracial and international adoptees.  Through organized small group times and everyday interactions, you’ll have the opportunity to mentor the campers while helping them grow and be their best.
How to applyIf you’re interested in being a Holt camp staff person, register online at http://www.holtinternational.org/camp/staffAppl.shtmlFor more information about the program or counselor responsibilities, please contact Steve Kalb stevek@holtintl.org or Michael Tessier michaelt@holtintl.org for details.


Holt Homecoming Program

Mapo-gu Office and Holt Children's Services, Inc. have joined forces to develop and present their Homecoming Program that is designed exclusively for Korean Adoptees; the goal is to provide assistance for individuals who want to live and work in Korea. Our objective is to facilitate opportunities for adoptees to better understand their Motherland while building networks with other adoptees as-well-as native Koreans. Our hope is that the Homecoming Program will help participants understand their Korean identities while providing a home base for adoptees during their stay in Korea.

The program is a paid three-month position with Holt Children's Services, Inc. For more information and application contact Courtney Rader, Adult Adoptee Director at courtneyr@holtintl.org.


 IIIHR Adult Adoptee Program
The IIIHR program is a non-profit educational institution attached to Inje University, located in Gimhae, Gyeonngnam Providence, Korea. The program invites Koreans, who were adopted as children into overseas families, to live on campus for a semester, to study the Korean language, history, and culture, and to attend short trips to different cultural or historical sites around the country for a 16 week stay at Inje University.

The IIIHR program will be having its 10th anniversary in 2011. Since the program was established, we have had 170 students from 12 different countries. The program is based on respecting life, an educational principle at Inje University, and was created for Koreans who were adopted at an early age overseas.

Applications are being accepted for the 2011 Spring (2nd of March to 10th of June) and 2011 Fall (29th of August to 9th of December). Tuition is $600 USD and covers classes, housing, cafeteria meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and day trips to cultural and historical sites for the whole semester. Flight not included. Classes are approximately 10 students in size and taught in English. Students will live on campus with a Korean roommate, attend classes, and have access to Inje University's student organizations, weight training gyms, library, and computers. Applications are due February 11, 2011 for both Spring and Fall semesters.

For more information and application download "2011 Inje University IIIHR Program" or contact IIIHR@hotmail.com

National Institute for International Education (NIIED)
The Korean Government Scholarship Program is designated to provide higher education in Korea for international students, with the aim of promoting international exchange in educations, as well as mutual friendship amongst the participating countries. Adult adoptees are encouraged to apply.
Master and Doctoral scholarships require at least Level 3 of the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK). Both programs offer 1 year language study prior to start Master's or Doctoral programs.
Scholarship includes:

-Airfare: Round-trip economy class ticket.=
-Monthly Allowance: 900,000 won (KRW) per month
-Research Allowance: 210,000 won for scholars in the humanities and social sciences and 240,000 won for scholars in natural and mechanic sciences per semester
-Relocation Allowance: 200,000 won upon arrival
-Language Training Fee: full coverage
-Tuitions: All admission fees are waived by the host institution, tuition is paid by NIIED
-Dissertation Printing Costs: 500,000 to 800,000 won depending on the actual costs
-Medical Insurance: 15,000 won per month will be provided (limited coverage)
-Special funding for scholars who are proficient in the Korean language (TOPIK Level 5 or 6) will receive 100,000 per month (commencing from the degree program)

For full description, requirements, and application visit NIEED's website at NIEED International Scholarship


Holt International Children's Services - PO Box 2880 - Eugene, OR 97402 
Phone: 1-888-355-4658 - Web:  http://www.holtinternational.org/

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Stay up to date with the latest in adoption headlines and ethics , and share your views on the adoption stories of the day in related forums and groups on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle. Below are some stories we've been following in recent weeks. Have you told us your reactions yet?



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    17-45x45 Post-Adoption and Still More Paperwork?
    "Working on our final post-placement report, I'm still baffled and overwhelmed by the amount of effort it takes to prove that we'll make good parents..." Read the rest of this post on Man Up!
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    A Last-Minute Adoption Crisis
    "Thirty minutes before our birthmother's C-section, a man showed up claiming to be our soon-to-be adoptive daughter's biological father. Should we shield our 6-year-old adoptive daughter from this unexpected news? And how can we possibly cope?" Share your thoughts.

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    February 5, 2011

    Transracial Adoption: How to Do It Well

    Radio Show “Transracial Adoption: How to Do It Well” http://www.creatingafamily.org/radioshow.html


    Transracial adoption “works”, but what exactly can parents do to help ensure that their children will grow up with a healthy racial and social identity. Join our guest Beth Hall, Founder and Director of PACT, a multicultural adoption organization dedicated to addressing essential issues affecting adopted children of color, and co-author of Inside Transracial Adoption. Natasha Sky is a multiracial woman and mother of four young multiracial children, who joined her family through birth and adoption. Natasha created the MultiracialSky website, a collection of resources for multiracial families.


    The Korean War Baby notes: Many in Cyber-Adoptionland (hmmm, maybe a newly coined word?) are actually helping Adoptive Families to Do It Better. Now that is what I'm talking about. Oh, that more Adoption Professionals in the past could have prepared Adoptive Parents perhaps better. With the Internet there are tons of sources out there for greater understanding.

    ...Now maybe the State and Federal governments could require by Laws that part of preparations to becoming an Adoptive Parent would include minimum of hours/classes. Some agencies and States have something already, but for the discerning Parent (Okay, even Singles are now allowed to Adopt) there are resources Online.

    The Korean War Baby
    My profiles: Blogger

    Steve Byrne Korean-American Comedian

    Korean American comedian Steve Byrne-"Different Kinds of Asians"

    Check out his act on YouTube.

    Steve has a DVD available. Very funny stuff. (Wonder if he was adopted?)

    The Korean War Baby
    My profiles: Blogger

    Angry Adoptive Mom: The adoption gene

    Angry Adoptive Mom: The adoption gene


    The Angry Adoptive Mom (Alias Third Mom) is not really so angry rather she points out that there are SOME Adoptive Parents who use strong language/vitriol/'sainthood' attitudes/vicious hurting words/etc. AGAINST those who are attacking them.


    If you have read "Third Mom" you would know that she herself adopted a son and daughter. This is from her site that focuses on her personal experiences with adoption.

    About This Angry A-Mom

    My Photo
    Margie
    Mom through Korean adoption. I wrote about my personal experiences with adoption at Third Mom. Now I focus on adoption (in)justice and reform at Angry Adoptive Mom. I support a woman's right to parent the children born to her, every adopted person’s legal and human right to their birth identity and unfettered access to their original birth certificate, and just and ethical adoption laws and practices.
    **********************************************
    The KWB believes in hearing a wide range of Voices and Margie (As an 'Adopter') has indeed been a voice of reason for quite some time. Whatever YOU are, take another look, clench your teeth if you must, but let's all examine and see if we can all "Do it a little better".
    This Thing of Ours-Adoption is a complex multi-faceted emotional Discourse that requires us to honestly see what the 'others' say and think. Remembering that not "ALL" think one way or another, Margie's voice is one of many Voices that need to be heard.

    While we are at it, let's try to be CIVIL towards each other...Oh, I know, sometimes the Korean War Baby loses it, gets emotional and uses "Dramatic Hyperbole": but there is nothing personal, I simply call ideas foolish not the person a fool.

    The KWB has said repeatedly that we all, yes all, need to listen to each others view, engage in civil dialogue. OKAY!!! KWB will try to be MORE CIVIL...really.

    Go and read carefully "Angry Adoptive Mom". You might need a large grain of salt but hear her out, no matter what part of the Adoption Triad (Circle) you are part(s) of, we could all learn.

    The Korean War Baby
    My profiles: Blogger

    February 4, 2011

    Resilience Korean Trailer

     Korean Trailer for "Resilience" by Tammy Chu




    Well, it seems that the producers/directors of "Resilience" or SOMEONE on the “Hollywood promotional staff?” continue to foust upon us the lament explicated that it was because of Adoption that Myung Ja was separated from her son. But it was in fact brought out in the film (and the Korean trailer) that it was her own family that stole from their daughter while she was hunting for a job; gave her son back to the 'biological father's family' and it was THEY that put the child (renamed Brent) up for adoption.
    ResilienceTrailer_ScrnSt01

    Note the photo above, “and that I wasn’t the one who sent him away,” MyungJa’s story is not the usual nor the Norm. It is a powerful story, full of difficult complex issues, with a ‘Never Ending Story’ that continues as they both work through issues after Reunion. Nothing is simple, it is not at all happiness, but like life, full of bumps and things that need to be worked out. (The KWB has gone on a Korean television program, which has been replayed several times, wondering "What if SHE makes contact?") 

    February 2, 2011

    Inman Family Reunion thru FaceBook-Update Video

    UPDATE on Inman Family reunion (Special thanks to Zoe!) which I posted a couple of days before. Read this link below for full story.
    Facebook helps Fontana man find sister missing for 37 years - chicagotribune.com


    The Korean War Baby comments:
    Will upload my summary of the article and comments soon...

     
    Steve Inman of Grand Junction holds an old photo of his daughter, Sally Marie, who had been missing for more than three decades until his son and one of his daughter’s children managed to find each other through Facebook. Sally Marie Blue was 18 months old in the photo; she is now 38 years old.  


    The empty space remained unfilled, and the guilt never left. He replayed it often in his mind: what he should have done differently; the calls he should have made and the letters he should have written; the things he should have said; the man he should have been.
    He was 37 years past being able to change anything, and all he had was a single black-and-white photo of a bright-eyed toddler with shiny, bobbed hair.
    His daughter. His lost daughter.

    The Korean War Baby Notes: When one reads just one article, you may miss out on key important facts that help explain from every angle and perspective. At first seemingly conflicting messages leave one wondering and scratching our heads, "How could that happen?" It is only after three articles and the amazing story of the Inmans becomes a bit clearer. The KWB rejoices with them, and with a personal touch- as HE is also an "Absent Father" of two children out there, a daughter he has contact with and son he has not yet found. Tale-of-two-women

    February 1, 2011

    MultiRacial and BiRacial Students Association

    Matches with Mixes: A U.S. Race Quilt_International Herald Tribune
    Great article from IHT on the changing attitudes of young people on being MultiRacial or BiRacial in America. Many interesting parallels to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as they face a generation of MultiRacial/multicultural children from the numerous marriages between Koreans and foreigners.
    Race Remixed

    “Black? White? Asian? More Young Americans

    Choose All of the Above”

    By SUSAN SAULNY January 29, 2011
    30mixed1_span-articleLarge From left: Shannon Palmer, Japanese/Irish; Vasco Mateus, Portuguese/African-American/Haitian; Laura Wood, black/white.
    COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In another time or place, the game of “What Are You?” that was played one night last fall at the University of Maryland might have been mean, or menacing: Laura Wood’s peers were picking apart her every feature in an effort to guess her race.
    How many mixtures do you have?” one young man asked above the chatter of about 50 students. With her tan skin and curly brown hair, Ms. Wood’s ancestry could have spanned the globe. “I’m mixed with two things,” she said politely.
    “Are you mulatto?” asked Paul Skym, another student, using a word once tinged with shame that is enjoying a comeback in some young circles. When Ms. Wood confirmed that she is indeed black and white, Mr. Skym, who is Asian and white, boasted, “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” in affirmation of their mutual mixed lineage.
    Then the group of friends — formally, the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association — erupted into laughter and cheers, a routine show of their mixed-race pride.
    The crop of students moving through college right now includes the largest group of mixed-race people ever to come of age in the United States, and they are only the vanguard: the country is in the midst of a demographic shift driven by immigration and intermarriage.
    One in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to data from 2008 and 2009 that was analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Multiracial and multiethnic Americans (usually grouped together as “mixed race”) are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups. And experts expect the racial results of the 2010 census, which will start to be released next month, to show the trend continuing or accelerating.
    Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity…They are also using the strength in their growing numbers to affirm roots that were once portrayed as tragic or pitiable.
    The KWB Notes: As Korea adjusts to the growing numbers of Multicultural Marriages and the Mixed-Blood children perhaps they too will affect change in the society. It is happening in the rural areas of Korea where the number of mixed-race children are soon to be twenty percent. Let the Change begin!

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