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 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


His daughter. His lost daughter.
He remembered the 18 hours of labor, the cracked linoleum floor on which she was born, the tiny house in the South Korean village of Chang-mal. He remembered saying goodbye, thinking it was temporary.
And then the call.
Several days after New Year’s 2011, Steve Inman’s son called with a tease and impossible news: “I’ve got a good Christmas present for you, Dad,” Steve Inman Jr. told him. “We found Sally.”
Was it a joke? Steve Sr., 59, paced his Grand Junction living room and peppered his son with questions. What? How? Where is she? When can we see her?

The daughter he and his then-wife, Chum Ku Yi, had left with her grandmother in South Korea while they returned to America to work out her immigration papers, and who had disappeared like mist, was alive and living in North Carolina. Her name was Sally Blue, and she had found a Facebook page Steve Jr. created for “Sally Inman (missing child).”

“All those years, I just didn’t know what happened to her,” Steve Sr. said, “or how it happened. And here she was. My daughter.”
He was a U.S. Army soldier stationed in South Korea when he met Chum Ku Yi. They fell in love and had a daughter, who they named Sally. They weren’t married when she was born, he said, which was the start of their problems.

SNARL OF RED TAPE

The U.S. and Korean governments wouldn’t recognize Sally as Steve’s daughter without a blood test, he said, which meant they couldn’t get immigration documents for her. The blood test results claimed Ku Yi wasn’t Sally’s mother, Steve said, “which was crazy. I mean, I saw her being born.”

For eight months, they tried in Korea to get the documents they needed, then decided to return to Salt Lake City, Steve’s hometown, and try at that end. They left Sally with her grandmother and arranged to send money back to South Korea through a friend. They met dead-ends here, too, and their frustration mounted.
They sent letters and money, he said, and heard from Ku Yi’s mother and from their former nanny, who was helping out. And then… nothing. No letters, no contact.

They were in their early 20s and dead broke, so they didn’t have the money to fly back to South Korea, he said. Calls didn’t go through. Letters went unanswered. Things got confusing. Ku Yi’s aged mother called and said the nanny had taken Sally. That didn’t make sense to Steve. They trusted the nanny. But Sally was just ... gone.
“I felt so helpless,” he said.

BLAME AND GUILT

In hindsight, with 37 years’ perspective, the steps they should have taken are clear. It’s so easy to flagellate himself for not doing enough, for handling things poorly, for giving up too easily. But as a father in his mid-20s — they’d had another daughter, Connie, and then Steve Jr. — he was overwhelmed. He also admits he was drinking too much. His marriage was crumbling. In a moment of weakness and heartbreak, he left.
Ku Yi, Connie and Steve Jr. moved to California. Steve Sr. landed in Grand Junction. In each of their lives was an empty space the shape of Sally. Her absence cast a shadow.

Through the years, they periodically tried to find her, only to meet dead-ends or proposed private investigator bills in the tens of thousands of dollars. It wasn’t until Steve Jr. had his own child, a son named Miyka, that things started happening. He had written to TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey and e-mailed reporters, hoping to drum up help in finding Sally, but he finally just created a Facebook page last August and posted 12 photos of baby Sally.

“Thank God I have computer-literate kids,” Steve Sr. said.
But nothing happened for four months, no nibbles, no inquiries. Then, the day after New Year’s, a teenage girl named Candace Blue left a message on Steve Jr.‘s voicemail. The photos on that Facebook page, she said, were of her mom.

Steve Jr. called back and was at first skeptical, Steve Sr. said, but he finally was convinced when Sally mentioned a birthmark on her lip. Sally Blue of Lillington, N.C., was Sally Inman, missing for 37 years.

From Sally, they learned what really happened: The long-reviled nanny, who was very old, accepted help from her daughter, Chun (also called Susie), a friend of Steve Sr. and Ku Yi. Chun and her husband, an American serviceman, eventually adopted Sally and moved to Texas when Sally was 3.

“Susie was always real honest with Sally,” Steve Sr. said. “She knew she was adopted. She knew her last name was Inman.”
Sally, too, had searched for her biological family and finally struck gold when she asked her daughter Candace to do a Facebook search for “Sally Inman.”

With that search and the subsequent call, a family’s story began to be rewoven. Plans were made for Sally and three of her seven children to fly to Fontana, Calif., where Steve Jr., Ku Yi and Connie live. Steve Sr. arranged for time off from his job at Wal-Mart’s tire and lube center and made the 12-hour drive, his thoughts careening like fireflies.

They’d talked on the phone, he said, but walking into Steve Jr.‘s living room, seeing her for the first time in 37 years, “was ... you just can’t imagine,” Steve Sr. said. “I knew it was her immediately. When I looked in her eyes, I just knew.”

The next five days were a gauzy haze of banishing lost time, he said. He had left a baby, and now here was this woman, this mother who will be a grandmother in March, this stubborn, strong person who put herself through nursing school, this spitting image of Connie, the missing piece of the puzzle.

Some nights, he said, they all piled like puppies onto one bed, talking and dozing and, subconsciously, making sure Sally wasn’t going anywhere. Driving away from Fontana was excruciating, he said, memories of the last time he’d left her spilling through his heart.

This time, though, he had photos and recent memories and knowledge of this exceptional daughter. He had tentative plans for Sally and her family to visit Colorado this summer. And he had a phone number that he can call any time. Which he does.
“Hi, Sally,” he’ll say. “It’s Dad.”






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