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 28, 2011

Birthmothers' Day - Birth Mother's Day - Mother's Day

 The Korean War Baby considers Mother’s Day, and came across this article from one of his resource websites, About.com. Birthmother’s Day…did not even know it had been established, anyone else know? What better way for those of us, not just adoptees, but all those members of the extended people involved in This Thing of Ours-Adoption to think and honor, reflect and consider, the woman who conceived and carried us to birth.

As the KWB has gone through much personal reflection over the past 15 years of living in the land of his Korean Birthmother (some prefer Natural or First Mom, whatever you feel comfortable with, eh). Especially in the past three years of intense research HE has had to face deep feelings and emotions within, locked inside by repressed memories, but coming up to surprise and shock…ugly thoughts and resentments, quite different from the ‘fairy tale’ pictures of his birthmother. What we are talking about is that little boy of five, who was left by his mother, not understanding, filled with terror and loss, traveling to another land, another family.

The age at the time of adoption is a major issue, one that does not deal with the “rightness or wrongness” of adoption/transcultural adoption but rather with the issues of acceptance and integration into their new forever home. It is not always a simple matter, attested to by adoptees now adults and their Adoptive Family. You hear the terms Attachment Disorder, but in simple terms it is the ability of the Adoptee to BOND to the new family. Many adult adoptees find that even the thought of Searching for Bio-Parents may be an insult or threaten their Adoptive Family. It must be approached with research and lots of wisdom, reading what others have experienced, even before proceeding. Some adoptees have suddenly found ‘letters from their birthfamily’ waiting for them. A few who have appeared on television also find themselves on a Fast Track, but only 2,500 have found reunion, with varying results.

With all these things to consider about Our Birth Mothers (and to a much lesser extent, Birth fathers, other birth family members) we must be open-minded, patient, communicate with all involved in our Adoptive Family, seek counsel from professionals, books, other adoptees with not just one-side but the spectrum of viewpoints. It is a MINEFIELD but YOU can make it through with a little help from your friends.

LET US REMEMBER OUR BIRTH/NATURAL/FIRST MOTHERS along with our ADOPTIVE MOTHERS in the way you are comfortable with, not with glossy pictures of emotionless fairy-tale but in a serious and practical acknowledgement of HER probable sense of loss, shame, guilt, wondering about YOU. Of course not all feel this way, and one wonders why with so much media in Korea about KAD’s coming and looking, why aren’t the mothers coming forward? Korean society is not so open as the west, to jeopardize their present family with the news, “I have a secret to tell you…” this is a extremely difficult thing to do. We must consider these things, and like the KWB gave out on his public Tvn program his message was “I don’t feel bad about you, want you to know I had a good family and life…want you to know I love you…if you want to please contact me”. It was good for his soul to do that, for his own birth mother and others out there in Korean society, secretly watching the shows and wondering about her own secret child given up for what she may have hoped would be a better life. Yes, there were some cases where the family of the mother even forced her or took her child and sent them away. In most cases though mothers carried us to term, not able to abort, some tried to take care of us, but society and lack of government, pushed her into a corner. The KWB believes that most Korean mothers chose to give us a better chance at life. For that, He honors BOTH his Mothers, the one who gave him life, and the one who raised him in life.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO BOTH OF THEM!!!!

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Birthmothers' Day - Birth Mother's Day - Mother's Day

About.com

Adoption / Foster Care

Birthmother's Day Created Out of Love or Just More Adoption Propaganda?

From Rebecca Hernon

The Saturday before Mother's Day is not a holiday marked on calendars, nor is it one in which Hallmark makes a card. It is not a holiday recognized by general society. It is Birthmother's Day.

A little background information for you. Birthmother’s day was actually created by birthmothers; a group of Seattle area birthmothers, in an effort not only to educate, but more importantly, to honor and remember. This group of birthmothers decided to create Birthmother's Day. The first gathering was on the Saturday before Mother's Day 1990.

I had never heard of Birthmother’s Day until the year after I placed my daughter. I was invited by the adoption agency to a gathering at a park. We had lunch; we shared our stories, poems… our tears. We lit candles and said a prayer.

I know that that first year was very hard for me. The need to be acknowledge and reassured that I had made the right choice was a very big part of my life. I believe celebrating that first Birthmother’s Day was helpful for me in being acknowledged and sharing my pain and tears with others who could understand me best.

Since that time, I have not acknowledged or been acknowledged on Birthmother’s Day. I had not given Birthmother’s Day another thought until this year, when asked for help in preparing an article for it.

There has been debate on the celebrating of Birthmother’s Day. It goes along with the debate over using the term “birthmother” for a woman who has placed a baby for adoption. What is really behind celebrating the day separate from Mother’s Day?

In all families, every member is identified by a term, such as mother, father, sister, brother. Today, we all know more then one family with step parents, half siblings, etc. Adoption blends two families forever and like it or not there needs to be some way to determine who is who.

Let’s think a little about adoption in itself. Those of us involved in the adoption community; whether we are a birthparent, adoptive parent or adoptee, we all have our opinions and feelings on how we like or do not like to be acknowledged as one of the above titles. For some of us, adoption plays a big part of who we are, what we were and what we will become. For others, it is like comparing it to the color of our hair or our shoe size, it is a very small part of our personalities.

Let me tell you a little about myself and my feelings now, eight years into an open adoption. I think about my daughter at least every other day. A big, secret part of me will always wish to be known as more then just her birthmother. If we look at the real meaning of the word “birthmother”, I do not want to be known as only the woman who gave her life, I feel like I am so much more to her; I want to be so much more to her.

That is the fine line in adoption that is drawn between birthmothers and adoptive mothers. As a mother in general, how many of us would like to have to share our children with “another” mother? Or is deciding to take on such a feat inherent in one deciding to place a child and one deciding to create their family through adoption?

Here we are back to the original subject; Birthmother’s Day and should or shouldn’t it be celebrated? And why or why not?

My opinion is any birthmother, first mother, natural mother, WHATEVER you decide you want to be known as has the right to do what makes her feel right about her choice or lack there of. For some, Birthmother’s Day can be a day to celebrate giving birth and making a choice to place and making it about the need to be acknowledged for that choice.

Some can use the day as one to educate others about adoption and what it means to them. The grief, the loss, the pain of losing the chance to mother ones child and how it affects the rest of one’s life, for the better, if there is such a thing, and the worse, which we all know there is some really strong “worse” feelings involved.

I think Birthmother’s Day should be more about women who have placed acknowledging each other and supporting one another, no matter whether it was a real choice or something that was forced upon us. We should stand together as mothers who have lost a child that cannot be replaced. We should say “Here we are, this is our pain, our sorrow and it is real.” And we should hold each other and know we are not alone.

If you feel like Birthmother’s Day was created as part of the adoption propaganda that takes place, MAKE A CHANGE this year. Make it about Birthmothers, it is Birthmother’s Day.

Rebecca J. Hernon
Birthmother To Natalie, 8 yrs. Old
Mama to Quinn, 9 yrs. Old and Ellie, 5 yrs. Old.
Do not copy without permission.

Ideas to Celebrate Mother's Day1

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©2011 About.com, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.


Links in this article:
  1. http://adoption.about.com/od/celebrationinspiration/a/honormothers.htm

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1 comment:

  1. I woke up this morning, on Mother's day, and looked at my sweet 6 year olds sleeping and prayed for their mom's in China and Korea. I still write letters to Holt and they tell me they put them in my Eun-Ji's file for her mom if she wants to come and get them. I don't know how much of that is true......all I can do is pray that she has read some and seen pictures of Eun-Ji and knows that we want her to be a part of our lives. And if she hasn't, I just have to trust God that He has a plan to reunite our families. Thank you for writing your Mother's Day post, it blessed me so much this morning:)

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