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.


April 8, 2011

Benevolent Society of Australia

The Korean War Baby has found this a great source of the way the Australian people and government have dealt with the complex issues of Adoption. Check them out, much to learn on their website.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us via the

Benevolent Society website

In this issue our Post Adoption Resource Centre marks a milestone anniversary. Listen to a podcast of an interview on ABC's Life Matters as we reflect on 20 years of openness in adoption in NSW. You can also find out about a new program that puts kids first in substance abuse cases, learn how we're bringing neuroscience research into our early childhood work and find out why we're excited about new funding we've received for a Community Hub in South West Sydney.

Recent news highlights and latest events.

The Benevolent Society E-Bulletin

Family Referral Service connecting families with support in Newcastle

14/07/2010-Families in Newcastle, the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Hunter regions can now access support through The Benevolent Society’s Newcastle Family Referral Service, by either calling the telephone service, or by dropping in to one of the face to face services in Newcastle, Muswellbrook and Watanobbi.

Join us at PARC's 20th Anniversary Garden Party

02/03/2011-We're inviting anyone with a link to our Post Adoption Resource Centre to join us at a Garden Party to celebrate 20 years of openness in adoption.

It's time to act for vulnerable children

03/03/2011-The Coalition for Children in Care today welcomed the Opposition's policy to commit to the handover the provision of foster care to non-government organisations in line with Justice Wood's recommendations. Justice Wood's 2008 Inquiry into Child Protection found there would be a higher level of care and support of foster children if they were supervised by accredited non-government agencies.

Centre for Women's Health marks 17 years of supporting local women

08/03/2011-The Benevolent Society’s Centre for Women’s Health at Campbelltown will mark 17 years of supporting local women and their families during this week’s 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

New program to put kids first in substance abuse cases

17/03/2011-Children who are at risk from a parent's drug abuse will be made a priority under a new program for local families launched by The Benevolent Society today. The program was launched at the official opening of The Benevolent Society’s new office on Macquarie Street, Liverpool.

Cutting-edge program uses neuroscience to shape young brains

18/03/2011-As part of International Brain Awareness Week, The Benevolent Society is launching a cutting-edge neuroscience trial program to develop up to 300 Australian children’s brains through focused play. The Benevolent Society's principal researcher Dr Margaret Brechman-Toussaint said the pilot makes the latest advances in neuroscience and international best practice available to families.

Greenacre community welcomes Government grant for new Community Hub

11/03/2011-Greenacre Neighbourhood Centre welcomes funding for a new Community Hub proposed by The Benevolent Society. $120,000 will come through the NSW Government's Community Building Partnership program, to establish a Community Hub in Greenacre.

Changes to Family Law Act a major step to keeping kids safe but should go further

24/03/2011

Child safety should be the primary consideration in Family Court rulings and the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Amendment Bill introduced by the Attorney General today is a major step towards keeping children safer said The Benevolent Society, Australia’s oldest charity, today.

Application forms for Sir Phillip Baxter Child Care Centre now online

25/03/2011-You can now view and download application forms online for Sir Phillip Baxter Child Care Centre, Woollahra.

Macleay Valley Communities for Children Plus

25/03/2011-The Macleay Valley Communities for Children Plus is building partnerships with local organisations to deliver projects and initiatives to improve the lives of children and families.

New centre to provide more support to Killarney Vale children and families

29/03/2011-The Benevolent Society and Killarney Vale Primary School have officially opened Killarney Village Central, a new community centre for local children aged 0-8 years and their families in the grounds of Killarney Vale Public School.

The Benevolent Society welcomes incoming NSW cabinet

04/04/2011-Australia’s oldest charity, The Benevolent Society, welcomed the new NSW cabinet, but expressed concern that action to improve community services is not included in the O’Farrell Government’s 100 Day Plan released today.

Helping to build closer ties between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups

30/03/2011-The Benevolent Society is supporting Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation (KAC) to bridge gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal groups.

20-year anniversary of openness in adoption in NSW

01/04/2011-NSW’s longest-running adoption support service this week marks 20 years of operation, helping thousands of people find out how to make contact with lost birth relatives. The centre opened on 2 April 1991, the day after the NSW Adoption Information Act (1990) was enacted.

Podcast: ABC Life Matters 20 years of open adoption

05/04/2011-In this podcast Richard Aedy speaks with Janet Henegan (PARC's co-ordinator), and adoptive mother Anne James and Mireille who is the birth mother of Steven, the child that Anne adopted in 1970.

All NSW residents will benefit from early-intervention preschools

05/04/2011-The Benevolent Society today welcomed Professor Tony Vinson’s calls for the NSW Government to develop early-intervention preschools for vulnerable and disadvantaged children. General Manager of Social Policy and Research at The Benevolent Society Annette Michaux said all NSW residents will benefit from ensuring children in disadvantaged areas get a good start to life.

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