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.


July 14, 2011


OOPS! This link above is no longer active since Sunny Jo unfortunately "Unfriended" me. sigh...

·         Don Gordon Bell · Answered Pro and Necessary Option

There will always be a necessity to allow ICA from Rep. of Korea (South Korea) because the Korean people will only adopt those it secretly wants and reject any child premature, with physical or mental defects, abandoned by both parents, and those whose mothers are unwed and unsupported by the government. WHEN Korean so...ciety changes their attitudes on Orphans/Adoption to be more open and accepting then the number of ICA would almost stop. That is another generation away. Don't use the "Korean should or ought to because they are well off" because they don't 'buy it'. It is NOT the economy but social prejudices and lack of government support for the unwed mothers by their OWN families who may demand abortion or adoption as the options.
Support Family Preservation yes, but the reality is that still 66% of Unwed Mothers (agreed upon term by all) DO choose to give up their children. Can we demand that they keep their children? Of Course not. To just stop ICA adoptions is not the solution. The number each year of babies born to Unwed Mother that are Civil Code Law Adoptions are 50% (Which by the way cannot be done IF ROK signed the Hague Conventions-they would have to stop all of the CCLA if they really wanted to sign); so called Domestic (by the four main adoption agencies) account for 25%; and the last 25% are in fact the only ICA from ROK. That again is breaking the MYTH that Koreans don't adopt, THEY DO but secretly because of the social pressures. Even among Christian families only 5-10 percent tell the child later that they were adopted.
Keep working on bringing more support for Unwed Mothers, prevention programs for teens/university students, promotion of adoption Openly, persuading the Korean people to accept us Adoptees both Domestic (including the unknown Adoptees) and Foreign. CHANGE comes SLOWLY but it is happening with the society. In 1999 only 5% of Unwed Mothers kept their babies, but by 2009 over 37% kept their babies. BUT each year only 3% of the Disabled are adopted by the Korean people. WHERE THE FUCK DO THEY GO, people? TO FOREIGNERS thru InterCountry Adoption. Now tell me again why all ICA should be stopped...I will tell you to go jump into a lake.

The Korean War Baby

READ THE REST OF THE LIVELY REBUTTAL BETWEEN SUNNY JO AND MYSELF on her link.
  
WELL, Sunny Jo has complained that her Facebook Wall is private...I find this unusual in that she is asking for others to vote on a survey and comment on A PUBLIC FORUM. Now communication between Wall-to-Wall that is more personal, almost email/chat. However, if anyone comments on an issue on someone's WALL they must want others to read it. 

HOWEVER, wanting good relations and good will, I invite all to use the link and go to Sunny Jo's Survey for Adoptees (Korean Adoptees), read all the comments, leave your own comments if you wish to (remembering that everyone CAN read what you write).
I have no personal agenda other than encouraging others to partake of this survey that Sunny Jo has put on her PUBLIC WALL of her FaceBook page. Please post your comments on this complex issue on Sunny Jo's link.
The Korean War Baby encourages all adoption discourse. A Multi-tiered approach may be the best even now in this day and age. Adoption is not the perfect solution, each individual may have different life experiences. Abortion is sadly a fact used for 'birth control' in South Korea (ROK), yet women have the Right to Choice. He strongly disagrees with some principles of those who oppose continuing InterCountry Adoptions from Korea based on the conditions of the Korean society.

The  Korean War Baby strongly believes in open discussions, keeping respect for individuals and their opinions. Get involved and state your opinions. Only you can bring about changes to improve the way adoptions are done, or not done.
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6 comments:


Sunny Jo said...
you do NOT have (and have not asked for) permission to x-post my or other ppl's replies! you have taken content from my private FB account, overruling my privacy settings, and published in another forum without my knowledge or permission. this is NOT ok! plz remove all references to my or other ppl's replies immediately.
Korean War Baby said...
Dear Sunny Jo, I am sorry but I did not consider your FB WALL as a privacy issue. Help me here, you ask people to make comments that others can see and read, comment on and agree or disagree with. I did not think that I needed permission from you or anyone, since I linked back to your survey and encourage other KAD's to VOTE on your survey. I am not piggybacking and will consider removing your comments if you so desire. WALL comments are public not private, however Chat, email, and Wall-to-Wall I would consider PRIVATE since they are between two persons OR a GROUP of 20.
Sunny Jo said...
my wall is NOT public! only my friends can see it. regarding the survey, it might be open for everyone to vote and comment, but it is still not ok to x-post, paraphrase or in other ways redistribute. your lack of understanding this disgusts me. you are no longer my friend.
Korean War Baby said...
Dear Sunny Jo, As you see on my blog I have respected your request to take off your 'private' survey. Sorry, but again I do not believe that I violated your privacy but in the interests of civility took yours and my comments off. Please don't be offended, I am attempting to understand you in this matter. Let's try to work out our differences and continue to discourse on this thing of ours-adoption, in OPEN debate. We don't have to be friends but I don't consider you less than a prominent and respected voice in these matters. I DO respect your views, and only thought that by posting on my blog it would help others to take part in your survey. My humble apologies.
Sunny Jo said...
if you have all this 'respect' for me, i think it is really disrespectful to throw out all these 'claims' about my life, to support your own POVs. e.g. "I was led to understand that was after DNA confirmation and that you were meeting for the first time" - we never did any DNA-tests and never claimed we did. "I am not lying but you have written that you were kidnapped, as per your posting on the web. BUT then WHO kidnapped you?" - grandma kidnapped me, and she admits to it. i know koreans do not consider it a kidnapping when it is done by a relative, but IMO it's no less of a kidnapping. i could go on and on about claims you have made about me, my life and my story which have no basis in reality. my book is available from www.truepeny.com or by contacting thomas park clement. if it had 'only' been this last x-posting, i wouldn't mind. but i've seen your witch hunt and attacks of everyone who disagrees with you, of GOAL and other KADs who try to make a difference, and i do not in any way shape or form condone such behaviour. you have a right to your own opinion, but you have no right trying to stuff it down other ppl's throats by refusing to listening to their POVs and arguments.
Korean War Baby said...
dear Sunny Jo, I do have respect for you personally. The so called 'claims' I have been careful to say are my recollections of the events. Your Grandma (Paternal who I never met either of them) got rid of you and your brother. I do consider it kidnapping, similar to what happened to Bret of "Resilience" when his mother (see I don't call her 'birthmother' due to the circimstances) found out that her own family had left him at the home of the biological 'father'. It was his family that abandoned or arranged for someone to pretend that he had been abandoned. These stories MUST be published and in the Korean language to show them what has happened on some cases. The Civil Code Law Adoptions do number about double of the Domestic adoptions (Domestic is about 90,000 through the four adoption agencies-HoltKorea, KSS, Eastern, SWS). When and IF the country adopts the Hague Conventions then abuses such as your situation will be stopped. I do not refuse to listen to other POV's and arguments, in fact I joined ASK and TRACK and diligently studied their positions. As for GOA'L and their fake election process I had to speak out against the mockery I saw. Persons who DO hold your position of stopping ICA and In-country Adoptions (Both Domestic and Civil Code Law)planned to take over GOA'L by their deceit and European NGO laws of order. I have addressed these in my blog and brought them to the light of day. Those in leadership were selected not elected, and board members who are AGAINST all adoption run the show. GOA'L's neutrality is no longer a reality. I have read much of that which is out online. I seek to find a Balanced position and reject extremism on both sides, such as a few Adoptive Families or Prospective Adoptive Families that hurl abuse at those who oppose continuing ICA. My points are that Korea is not yet THERE yet. The society is slowly changing and it must be the Korean people to complete that themselves. I am not racist, just a pragmatist and observer that it will take more time. Women's rights are still way behind, No? Attitudes concerning Adoption, Orphan, Blood-lines, Single Parenting, and many other things ARE slowly evolving. YES, I agree with you Koreans can do it. BUT I disagree strongly with some of the outrageous statements made by a few of those who think by just shutting down InterCountry Adoptions that the country will then change. Acceptance of change must be a combination of Laws and Attitudes. In the USA more and more Multicultural marriages/relationships are accepted but there will ALWAYS be some who are prejudiced. At the present time Korean is NOT willing nor able to take care of the babies born each year and give up by Unwed Mothers (gov. term) or abandoned by their parents. Don't they deserve a chance to have a HOME, even in a foreign land? I believe that many KAD's agree with me. I don't believe that any 'Online Survey' captures the real numbers. Even "Evan B. Donaldson's Adoption Institute" recorded only 167 KADs to take their survey in 2008. The ones who are active on the internet do not represent accurately the total because is is not scientifically done. So the Korean War Baby will not do a survey either.


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