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.


June 23, 2012

On Whining and Pining

NOTE: The complaint against Whiners does not apply to this following commentator, Rather it is against those who whine about their adoption as Causing their separation/loss from natural/birth mother and/or father, culture, country, language, etc. Causality is very clear- It is the concept that an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event. 

1 comments from earlier Post:

  1. "The simple fact is that Adoption does not CAUSE the separation."

    I agree that qualifiers should be used rather than blanketing something or someone and all of adoption in discourse. A qualifier would have been suitable here because it's not entirely true. There are indeed *many* instances where adoption has caused the loss and separation of mothers and children.

    As an adoptee and feminist, I have long been concerned with the U.S. obsession of "righting" the "illicit" childbearing of impoverished and/or unwed mothers by adoption--something that came about after careful marketing and the creation of a supply and demand system in the domestic industry in the United States. In the 1970's, for every one "unwed mother" who might give her baby up for adoption, there were ten prospective adoptive couples waiting to adopt (that ratio has since skyrocketed astronomically) with few facilitators and institutions at the time disagreeing that an adoption wasn't the only option. This system stacked against vulnerable, young, women did in fact cause them to lose their babies to adoption. The need for adoptions to happen as, second to marriage, the only way for a woman to "redeem" unwed childbearing drove the losses of over one million women. These are losses the blossoming industry at the time absolutely caused.

    The over one-million U.S. women, and who knows how many worldwide, victimized by this system should not be dismissed. Their children were also victims. How can we dismiss them or tell them how to feel about it all either?

    I know you've heard the voices of these mothers. What they say is true. My mother was treated very much like this in the 1980's. The second she walked into the agency, the decision was already made for her. Adoption was the agency's #1 priority and so many absolutely repugnant things happened to her, I, and my adoptive parents, just so adoption was the end that justified the agencies means.

    Not every person, mother, family, or adoptee shares that experience. But we cannot dismiss them. I don't want my mother dismissed because her loss to adoption--because of adoption--isn't nice to think about because that's not fair. She was one of those women people use as examples of those who don't want their babies, she was raped. She loved me. She wanted me. I don't "pine" that I wasn't kept. I "pine" because of her horrific experiences--because she's a human being, and my mother, and no one should have to be treated that way.

    I don't blame my adoption, adoptive parents, adoptive parents as a whole, adoption workers, original parents, or anyone else for any problem that I've ever had. But I do expect adoption to be accountable for the reprehensible amount of losses it, in itself, causes to orphans, foster children, youth adoptees, adult adoptees, original families, and adoptive families. I'm gladly a "whiner" for the cause of accountability ;-)
    Reply

    ***************

    The Korean War Baby Responds:

    Dear Amanda,

    *"The simple fact is that Adoption does not CAUSE the separation."

    I agree that qualifiers should be used rather than blanketing something or someone and all of adoption in discourse. A qualifier would have been suitable here because it's not entirely true. There are indeed *many* instances where adoption has caused the loss and separation of mothers and children."*

    {*many* instances where adoption has caused the loss and separation of mothers and children}-


    My point is that the facts are that a child was conceived, in any manner (marriage, unwed premarital sex, rape, incest, IVF, etc) and then adopted in any manner, that adoption does not CAUSE the loss and separation. A life has been produced, and no matter how it was brought into being, babies and children are in the world having already suffered loss and separation.

    Here is the entire paragraph: {TO ME, and I am not one gifted with great intelligence just years of making mistakes and trying to learn from them..in MANY cases, women were forced to make decisions to "give up raising their children" for many reasons. The simple fact is that Adoption does not CAUSE the separation. It may provide a solution for a young mother who has few support networks, or a mother who has no SONS, or a child that is born with physical or mental disabilities in a society that rejects such.}
    "Adoption does not CAUSE the separation"- No case, not one, that I have heard used to illustrate this belief has a logical argument to prove causality. Causation presumes that "A happens Causing B as a RESULT". Or causality is also the relationship between a set of factors (causes) and a phenomenon (effects). Those who claim that adoption caused a pregnant woman to give up her unborn child are missing the point of causality. The Pregancy comes first, no matter how it happened. The issues (factors) that Cause the first/birth/natural Parent(s) to give up/relinquish a child was not "Caused" by someone wanting to adopt.

    I have seen this ill-stated logic used over and over, that of blaming Adoption Industry/Adopters/Adoption Agencies/ etc for "causing" a child to be adopted. Supply and Demand, a marketing term could apply here. A "Product" must exist before it can be "Marketed". Many abandoned/relinquished/given up children exist because of conditions whereby the child could not be raised by it's natural/birth/first parents/family.


    It is these and other conditions that CAUSE separation/loss not the other way around. It may be death of one or both parents, it may be extreme poverty, it could be the mother was forced by the societal and family lack of support, or she just did not want to be a mother yet. Rape or incest, and a decision not to abort or lack of facilities or religion may prevent turning to abortion. There are many Causes for the separation.

    BUT, LET ME SHOUT HERE- ADOPTION IS NOT THE CAUSE.

    Next: *As an adoptee and feminist, I have long been concerned with the U.S. obsession of "righting" the "illicit" childbearing of impoverished and/or unwed mothers by adoption--something that came about after careful marketing and the creation of a supply and demand system in the domestic industry in the United States.* Hmmm, U.S. *obsession of "righting" the "illicit" childbearing of impoverished and/or unwed mothers by adoption*


    AGAIN, this is Post conception and relinquishment phases. Demand for children to be adopted did not Cause pregnancy and male preference did they? No. "Supply" is over abundant for many factors, in different ways over the years it changed as in the USA fewer women gave up their children. Single motherhood became more acceptable by society in many countries (one factor). It is a clear indication that THE RESULTING adoption both Domestic and International is that there is a huge SUPPLY. Not Demand 'causing' the Supply. YOU SEE? You prove my point, that it is not the cause but the Effect of the huge SUPPLY that led to the marketing and some abuses within the system. THIS I AGREE WITH, that abuse HAVE and DO occur.

    It is when a few adoptees use language that sounds like they are speaking for "all international adoptees" and WHINING that Adoption makes(Causes) the loss alone moves me to have fits. These whiners speak in words that they speak for ALL International Adoptees. WELL, NO ONE can speak for all, or even most. THEY DON"T SPEAK FOR ME!


    I can agree with those who are upset about the extreme viewpoints (i.e. "forever families", Christian zealous motivations to adopt and save a child"). There are also problems of the Process that international adoption has undergone and In-Country adoptions are still unregulated in Sending Countries. Non-Hague signatory countries are still allowed to send orphans, so the Hague Conventions are worthless and cannot be enforced.

    This: *This system stacked against vulnerable, young, women did in fact cause them to lose their babies to adoption. The need for adoptions to happen as, second to marriage, the only way for a woman to "redeem" unwed childbearing drove the losses of over one million women. These are losses the blossoming industry at the time absolutely caused.* You continue to blame those who were waiting to adopt or PAP (Potential Adoptive Parents is the term used) as though the DEMAND set the pace of the SUPPLY. I beg to differ again because it is the Government, Society, and Religious viewpoints in both sending and receiving countries that play major huge factors (CAUSES) in women giving up their children. Let's not forget poverty, war, tragedy, social experiments such as Native Americans, Aborigines, orphan trains, etc.

    A woman, married or single unwed status, pregnant and facing motherhood in such situations of life these things CAUSE her or her own family to send her child away. Correcting such abuses of kidnapped children turned in as though abandoned without fully identifying and confirming the truth just was not possible in the past. In Korea, tens of thousands were abandoned in public places, with no papers, names, birthdates, etc. These days there should not be any such cases but Korea has not yet signed the Hague Conventions. These things should be done, but only Koreans will decide that, not by whining but demanding that separation is by consent of the Mother and that she was NOT forced.

    Let me be clear, when I say  {So let's stop the WHINING and PINING that a few do "I ARE ADOPTED that is why I am all messed up".} I speak not about the things that happened in anyone's life, there are horror stories in both biological and adoptive, divorced, non-married, families all around. No, I am talking about those who whine and claim that they were adopted BECAUSE their adoptive parents 'wanted them'.


    It has nothing to do with the circumstances that CAUSED life to start, rather it has to do with the whining about "losing culture, language, family" AND BLAMING ADOPTION only. Another whine is only "Rich White people" adopted them, what a load of crap that is from socialists/ultra liberals and not all inclusive at all. Black Americans and other people of Color have adopted. Not all adoptive parents are WHITE are they? And the Pining about race...there is racism everywhere but you cannot just whine about it. What? Should people not be allowed to cross-cultural marriage? Can non-racism be enforced? Only on the law books but not on the heart.

    We all sang songs about peace and love in the sixties, yet in Vietnam I saw the horrors of reality and hate. Call for peace? When people shoot at you, you shoot back and kill them or you die. Hesitate squeezing the trigger and your friends die. Peace, when there is no peace in the hearts of some men cannot simply be without enforcing the peace. To run around with 'flowers in their hair' turned out to be unsuccessful. Just wanting peace does not bring it.


    We call President Obama a Black American but he has publicly admitted that he is mixed-raced- a mutt. He was conceived from a multicultural marriage therefore he is half-white/half-black and was raised as a White man. Yet I am proud that we have a person of color in the "White House". Media continues to falsely call him only a "Black President" What about his White Mother? I could Whine about that.

    "But I do expect adoption to be accountable"? AGAIN, Amanda, you are putting the blame not on the Cause but the EFFECT. Adoption may give an option to a woman/mother but it does not Cause her to give up her child. The Causes are other factors. Please, whining about the "cause of accountability" should be on improving the legal process of adoption both intercountry and in-country, to insure that both child and biological family (if possible) are giving up the legal rights. Yes to trying to improve Receiving countries processes but it is impossible to correct the Sending countries social attitudes. Lots of whining will not change the hearts or minds neither will laws.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Korean War Baby, not always totally right but usually willing to listen to almost all.

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