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 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.

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?") 

Please check the film and see that what the problem is in not "Adoption" but the laws and loopholes that did allow children to be 'reported as abandoned'. Myung Ja and her son Brent are caught up in circumstances that are tragic but it is wrong to extrapolate that and present it this way only:
From new Korean Language Trailer
“Adoption changes many children’s destinies”
“Not just for a moment, please think about their whole lives
“So that the children of this land can live happily”
“and that their parents won’t have to give them up”.

HELLO? 'their parents won't have to give them up'? Brent’s mother DID NOT GIVE HIM UP. She did not know even if he was a Domestic or Overseas adoptee until the TV program brought them together with the usual FLAIR and DRAMATIC idiotic overblown style. Countdown clocks and stupid questions like "Do you forgive your birth mother?" as often asked of the KAD on LIVE TV. YouTube videos where GOA'L has been able over the years to get KADs on shows have outrageous "acts" to Over-dramatize such a sensitive meeting. The KWB had to consider if he wanted to go through such a show, but in order to get a message to not only his own birth mother but other birth mothers, that most KADs do want contact to let them know we don't hold ill will against them.

(Spoiler coming!) MyungJa was a victim of HER OWN FAMILY! It was they who BETRAYED HER and left her son on the doorstep of the biological father’s family. So, this does not apply to their story, rather it implies that the “Parents” gave them up because of Adoption.

“Adoption changes many children’s destinies, not just for a moment, please think about their wholes lives, so that the children of this land can live happily and that their parents won’t have to give them up”.

The KWB has some questions on the wording of these statements from the Korean Version of the trailer. The statements above seem to imply or strongly infer that it is Adoption that is to blame for “their parents” giving them up. WELL, HE BEGS TO DIFFER, with 95% of children given up each year being by UNWED MOTHERS we can forget the ‘fathers’ who hardly care about their children. 

Unwed Mothers in Korea everyday CHOSE to give up- not only because of the lack of support, but because no boyfriends, as they run away with no stinking laws in the land forcing Paternity tests for financial support, OR the woman just cannot raise her child by herself in this society. Some women give their child up to mid-wives for private adoptions in Civil Code Law adoptions.

But PLEASE stop inferring that it is Adoption that somehow causes the separation. The unwanted and rejected at least have been and are continuing to this day being given a loving home. This could be by In-Country -where again 95% of Civil Code Law and Domestic adoptions, numbering roughly 3,000 per year are kept SECRET even from the child! The KWB strongly protest this, but how do you ‘force’ Korean people to open up? We must encourage them, not heap coals of GUILT and BLAME on them- or they could through MPAC go into a Korean ethnic family Overseas, or into a InterCountry Adoption (ICA) of a Transcultural/transracial family. The KWB is one such KAD who is GOD BLESSED to have been adopted, both into a WHITE Parents family. AND if he may boast, into the Family of his GOD. Sorry if you were adopted into a non-religious family, gee, maybe the HOLT'S and others had a good idea after all. BUT there are always (almost) examples of some horrible thing happening, why EVEN in non-adoption families. But we don't blame Marriage for a bad abusive father, or whatever. Blaming adoption as the cause of separation is about the same...B.S.

The POINT is that these babies each year are still being GIVEN UP, by two-thirds of the Unwed Mothers in Korea. (Reviewing Issues on Unwed Mothers)

ResilienceTrailor_capture2 We see placards from A.S.K. (Adoption Solidarity Korea) "Korean babies not for export, End overseas adoption".

Why only cry out against Overseas or now ICA (ICA has replaced “Overseas”, “TransNational”, or "InterNational” adoptions in accordance with the Hague Conventions on Adoptions/Rights of the Child). The Anti-Adoption Associates continue to harp on ONLY Overseas adoptions. But ending Overseas Adoption does nothing though about the Domestic and Civil Code Law adoptions. These In-Country adoptions are 95% done in secret, meaning that the child is usually not told even that they were adopted. About 20% of USA domestic adoptions are also kept secret. Google "Late Discovery Adoptees" and see how THAT is working out for them.
Warning: Some Faith Talk next!!

The Korean society still holds adoption as shameful, even many Christian churches have this attitude. Strange because the Bible tells us we are adopted into the family of God in many passages. Pastors of many denominations have told the KWB that Korean "Traditions" (READ Confucius not Buddhist) are against having non-blood related children. OH? "What fellowship does Light have with Darkness" (2Co 6:14) the teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius set the social structure that allowed adoption within the extended family to insure a son carried the family name.

Yet, many of these 'men of God' could not answer WHY they accepted the ways of Confucius instead of the numerous scriptures from the Bible, that clearly show that GOD intended we who ARE as Christian believers. Those who put their faith in the only Begotten SON Jesus Christ, to become Adopted children of the Father become Children of GOD. OH, I can hear some of you groaning, "another religious nut", well YES, by His Holy Spirit I live, move and have my very breath. By the Stripes upon the Lord Jesus, I have been healed of the shame and hatred that controlled my life. Am I perfect, OH NO. I never will, dealing with my past woundedness just like many others out there in this imprefect life.

NO, I am not a wonderful peaceful person, not very Christlike at all, still struggle with many issues. But bottom line, I have put my faith in Jesus Christ NOT in my own righteousness or good works. Okay, sermon over...more in later post. 
What are In-Country Adoptions?
Uh, perhaps some of you don’t understand the differences between CCLA and Domestic adoptions? Or you have heard the myth that “Koreans don’t adopt?” Domestic Adoptions are processed through the 4 major Adoption Agencies (Holt, SWS, KSS, Eastern), vetting the Adoptive Families just as in ICA.

However, the country has a duel track (KWDI report HERE Page ii), with Civil Code Law adoptions accounting for unregulated adoptions through private individuals, lawyers, Civil Courts where midwifes or matchmakers find couples and Unwed Pregnant females, all who want to keep everything secret. The recent Hoju family registry system in Korea was changed in 2007 to become Individual Registry. Therefore in Civil Code Law the Court can allow the child to be adopted as though it was a natural born child. In 2008, the 'unknown' and Court cases of adoptions increased almost 200% after this convenient law made it easier for Korean couples to "keep it secret".

The Domestic adoptions are almost the same numbers as ICA, but the Civil Code Law adoptions are almost double, showing a

3 to 1 ratio of In-Country compared with InterCountry Adoption. 

This means that for every child “exported by ICA” there are THREE who are adopted In-Country. Are they not ALSO, separated from their mothers and fathers (most biofathers don’t give a damn) by adoption- ACCORDING to the flimsy argument presented in this trailer. 

What about these 3,000 thousand every year adopted by Korean couples due to Infertility, or to be certain of the sex of the adopted child. Because females DO NOT inherit or 'count for much' (Neo-Confucianism in the 18th century Korea reduced women to second class citizens). Female children make up 60% of the total of In-Country adoptions. In the past the ratio of those ‘exported’ overseas were about the same, with the official government ratio of 65% being female in ICA. Please Check! Adoption by Gender 1995-2005 chart from MOHWFA

Well, What say you then, Director Tammy Chu and co-Producer Rev. Kim DoHyun? For it appears that those involved with Resilience Promotional Trailers SEEM to argue against ALL adoption. Do you hold to this idea?  Please, correct the slightly misleading statements because it SOUNDS like whining and pining against adoption.

If this is so, WELL, this is NOT the solution, folks, to try and lobby against InterCountry Adoptions only WITHOUT considering the numbers of those adopted IN-COUNTRY. They must ALL be part of the picture, they are of the ten thousand women each year approximately, who actually go to full term and give birth RATHER than the 1,460,000 each year who Aborted their Unwanted Pregnancies.

Now the KWB does NOTICE a GOOD SIGN of correction. Below is what is STILL on the

In the Synopsis, on their webpage, one can still find this (From “Resilience” MySpace)
The statement below (Close Up) seems…well, NOT entirely truthful.synopsisCU_resilience_Website
“With every new family created by adoption, another family gets torn apart”
The Korean War Baby has always endorsed this film, directed and produced by Tammy Chu, a young Korean Adoptee, who put several years into making this engaging film on This Thing of Ours-Adoption. The KWB is listed as one of the many many folks who are listed as sponsoring the Post-Production last year, just before the debut at the prestigious Pusan International Film Festival in 2009. The film has been rocketing to success throughout the year, to rave reviews.
“With every new family created by adoption,
 another family gets torn apart”
This is just NOT TRUE, sorry, I am moved to protest this erroneous/grievous “HOLLYWOOD HYPE” for that is what it is, a catchy phrase that sounds good but even the story of MyungJa and her son Brent, does NOT REPRESENT all cases. I am loath to spoil the story of the film, however, BUT the story of Resilience is ONLY:
“A single story among thousands
of stories untold,”
Click on Link above for more.
The KWB protested first through emails to appropriate people against this error. He then posted on his blog, last year in 2010.  
Director Tammy Chu has MODIFIED THIS on the FaceBook link/Info page_Plot Outline. Note below with Close UP.
THANK YOU Director Tammy for updating the Plot Outline (synopsis) phrase to read:
While many families are created by adoption, many families are separated by adoption.”
Many” at least is better than “Every” but it STILL is pointing the finger of blame at adoption. What does this phrase mean? “Separation” takes place in the sense that there is a physical APARTNESS, as in the 30,000 Abandoned children;
37,276+ Disabled Children (terms are government’s); 
10,000 approximately Mixed-Blood Children  
For a total of more than 77,000 who were simply NOT WANTED and REJECTED by Korean society. Tens of Thousands more have documentation that they were relinquished or given up for adoption. We DO NOT hold our mothers to blame, NO, and many perhaps really DID give us up for hopefully a better life.

Also this statement shows our Western ignorance, certainly some wishful thinking: Despite being one of the world’s strongest economies (now the 15th ranking), it (South Korea) continues to do so. (Send children overseas)” 

It has nothing to DO with Korea being a strong economy! Actually Koreans spend so much on their children's education and the Planned Population Federation of Korean was so successful at "population control" that the current birth rate is the lowest. Did their job too well, eh? Women waiting to marry later and later, couples wanting only one child (Gee, usually a male, wonder why), and other factors have spurred the government into offering cash rewards for 2nd or 3rd children.

It IS rather the attitude of the great majority of the Korean people against adoption, blood-lines importance, unwed single women, woman’s rights, all these issues- “IT'S HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ECONOMY, STUPID”. I mean, come on, can telling Koreans that they are well off and SHOULD take care of their children, How is that working? Hasn't phased them one bit.

Why we could "Insist that THEY just accept a child born out of wedlock; and that Korean families should accept unwed mothers instead of rejecting them; AND stop shunning and ridiculing IbYangIn (Adoptees) by fellow students...DOES THAT REALLY WORK? GET REAL. Ain't working? Not too well apparently with continuing relinquishment for adoption and prejudice. Continued publication in Korean Media and CELEBRITY Adoptees such as Hines Ward, Korean mixed-blood artists of all types, even those who have adopted OPENLY. These are the positive things that can help. The very fact that with more Rural schools have MORE MultiRacial students is bringing a reality check. This IS GOOD.

How about working together to HELP Korean people wanting themselves to change, not by shame but by just presenting the facts? Encouragement not scolding, imploring not deploring. The KWB is willing to network with others on better ways than the "Shame Game". How about finding a better method, folks?

SAD to say but these are the Inconvenient Truths that we must work through in making sense of our lives if we were adopted. We must process ALL of the Truth, sort out the 'chaff' from the wheat. To blame adoption OVERSEAS as the main culprit is hardly scholarly or sensible in any manner.

The statements in this trailer continue to have HUGE AMBIGUITY…what exactly are they saying to you?

This powerful adoption story "Resilience" will be released to the Korean public with the mournful pleas but it is doubtful Korean society will accept the blame, especially since the trailer puts the onus upon the Adoptive Families rather than where it belongs…Korean society’s ongoing prejudice and lack of concern. What might work better is to just let the story of "Resilience" speak for itself.

STOP THE HOLLYWOOD HYPE!!! It is not necessary
GO, See the Film, Decide for yourself,
Engage in Discussion with your friends.
Keep Adoption Discourse active!
Available soon in DVD this 2011.


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