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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