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 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!

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said Ms. Wood, the 19-year-old vice president of the group. “If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’
The KWB Notes: YES, YES, YES, I myself am all of the race/ethnicities of my Korean birth/natural mother and my birth father (Spanish/Mexican/Apache) but also my ADOPTIVE PARENTS cultures. By Adoption I be Scottish/English/Norwegian as well. I can and do celebrate all of these as Part of ME! See This Link "Long Struggle for Multicultural Stars in Korea
image image
In Sooni
Kim, who goes by her stage name Insooni, is the daughter of a Korean mother and an African-American soldier, and her mixed heritage gave her darker skin, a face that stood out and intensely curly hair. Because of her appearance she was often banned from appearing on TV shows, and she was denied the chance to participate in an international singing competition as a representative of Korea. Yet, today, she is still one of the country’s most influential musicians.
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No one knows quite how the growth of the multiracial population will change the country. Optimists say the blending of the races is a step toward transcending race, to a place where America is free of bigotry, prejudice and programs like affirmative action.
“The mixed-race identity is not a transcendence of race, it’s a new tribe,” he said. “A new Balkanization of race.”Long ago, the nation saw itself in more hues than black and white: the 1890 census included categories for racial mixtures such as quadroon (one-fourth black) and octoroon (one-eighth black). But by the 1930 census, terms for mixed-race people had all disappeared, replaced by the so-called one-drop rule, an antebellum convention that held that anyone with a trace of African ancestry was only black. (Similarly, people who were “white and Indian” were generally to be counted as Indian.)
Starting with the 2000 census, Americans were allowed to mark one or more races. The multiracial option came after years of complaints and lobbying, mostly by the white mothers of biracial children who objected to their children being allowed to check only one race. In 2000, seven million people — about 2.4 percent of the population — reported being more than one race.
At one meeting of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, Ms. Wood shared a story about surprises and coming to terms with them. “Until I was 8 years old, I thought I was white,” she told the group. “My mother and aunt sat me down and said the guy I’d been calling Dad was not my father. I started crying. And she said, ‘Your real father is black.’ ”
The KWB Notes: Part of the article discusses the difficulty that some have though with “One-drop rule, he’s black.” Pres. Barrack H. Obama chose to mark his census with only one mark, Black and not acknowledging his White mother. So some people may in Korea have similar ‘rules’ that are the opposite. One Drop of Foreign blood, does it make you a foreigner? In Korean mindset this is being challenged today with the growing presence of mixed racial marriages and their children. There will probably always be some who are prejudiced against such mixing of ‘gene pools’, but as the Korean War Baby crudely says to these narrow minded folks…Kiss my Multiracial BUTT, just Deal with it! LOL.

2 comments:

  1. AnonymousMay 22, 2011

    Hello, i am seeking some information regarding war babies and and the korean war. In particular, i am looking for what the estimated number of war babies from the korean war actually is. More importantly, what is the ratio (or percentage) of white/korean mix compared to that of black/korean mix. Many thanks. I will check back regularly to see if there is any response.

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