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, though and I never 'wished to be White'. MY Identity was as an American, with mixed heritage. I did not know what "Korean" meant but often wondered who my birth father was, his ethnicity. Mexican, Native Americans, and Spanish people would tell me that I had their 'genes' for sure.
For ten years I lived in the Philippines, working on international and local films. I was excepted as a 'mestizo' and fit into the former Spanish colony. I was a B-movie Character Actor, enjoying a 'wild life' until 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.
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 did not know yet my birth father's ethnicity.
Then in 1994 I came back to Seoul, Korea, with my church Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and was invited to stay with a church 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.
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 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, 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.
At 59 I am still 'working thru' my Adoption Identity. Each of YOU need to 'work through' your own understanding and hopefully find forgiveness and healing. I hope that you will learn what IS happening NOW, in the land of your birth, the Rep. of Korea (South Korea).
Times have changed, the reasons for 'relinquishment for adoption' have shifted, but there continues to be a need for a multi-tiered 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, three are secretly adopted in-country.
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, 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.
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.
|Holt number A-20|
More to come...like him, a work in progress.
Seoul,, Korea (Republic of)
firstname.lastname@example.org . koreanwarbaby.com/
Heart of Stone (1992) 1st Assistant Director Prison Power Ministries
Manila Tattoo (1988) Fighter Bobby Suarez Prod.
Silk (1986) Fighter Haskel Cirio Santiago
Equalizer 2000 (1986) Gossage Dir. Cirio Santiago
Warbus (1986) Ronny Schzenphrenic Psycho Regal Films/Fernando Baldi
American Commandos/Hitman (1985) Tiger, Green Beret SOG Bobby Suarez Prod.
Naked Vengeance (1985) Arnie (Rapist 4) Cirio Santiago
The Devastator/King's Ransom (1985) Deputy Cirio Santiago
Wheels of Fire (1985) Robot Cirio Santiago
Purple Hearts (1984) Casting Production Assistant Sid Furie
Final Mission (1984) Deputy Cirio Santiago
Bruce's Fists of Vengeance (1984) Miguel's Henchman Unifilm International
Stryker (1983) Henchman Cirio Santiago
Blood Debts (1984) Gang member Silver Star/Teddy Page
Hunter's Crossing (1983) Controvida Silver Star Productions
White Slavery (1983) Customer Sarsi Emmanuelle dir. Lino Brocka
Pleasure Island (1982) Saudi Arabian businessman
Crossbone Territory (1982) Pointman Green Berets Kinevesa International
Enter the Ninja (1981) Venerius' Goon Menahim Golan Dir.
Intrusion Cambodia (1981) Team Member SOG Jun Gallardo Dir.
Firecracker (1981) Martial arts fighter Cirio Santiago
Hantingan (1981)- Friend of Eddie Garcia Dir. Francis 'Jun' Posadas
Pabling (1981) Maricel Soriano's American Friend Dir. Ishmael Bernal
Wild Lips (1981) Friend of Cherie Gil boyfrien Dir. Francis 'Jun' Posadas
Emma Henry 2 (1980) Goon Dir. Armando David
Temptation Island (1980) Ship's Crew member Regal Films/Joey Gosiengfiao
Wanted: Wives (1979) Lead role Regal Films, Phil.
Apocalypse Now (1979) Radioman 'Dustoff' Ville 2 Francis Coppola
They call him Bruce Lee (1979) Lead Contravida Kinevesa Intl/dir. Jun Posadas
Dakpin Si Junior Bombay (1978) Boyfriend of Ruby Anna
The Five-Style Fists (1978) Eagle Claw Master Leonardo C. Pascual
Sinong Pipigil Sa Pagpatak Customer of Pilar Pilapil
They Call Her Cleopatra Wong (1978) Expat Bad guy Bobby A. Suarez director George Richardson
Sabotage 2 (1978) Mafia Goon fighting Tony Ferrer Dir. Efren Pinon
The Boys in Company C(1978) Asst. Drill Instuctor Golden Harvest/Sid Furie
Kabaret (1977) Drunk customerCharito Solis
Batang City Jail (1977) Boyfriend of Vivian Velez
Huwag Hamakin Hostess Dance partner of Alma Morena
Do They Not Cry in America(1977) 'Jarhead' Marine POW
Mga Tinik Ang Babae (1977) Photographer
Hostage Hanapin Si Bautigas Friend of Eddie Garcia
Boy Pano-(1980) American soldier Bembo Roco
Raw Force (1982) (aka Zombie of Mushashi Sword master director Edward Murphy
Igo Shi Insang Ida/Successful
Various Guest Appearances SBS - Seoul Broadcasting Service, Korea
Pilot for "Savage in the Orient" (1983) Producers Assistant CBS pilot
Ang Makulay Na Daigdig Ni Nora (1977) American boyfried of Susan Valdez Channel 7
"Itong Ang Philippines" This is the Philippines (1977) Private William Grayson/ San Juan Bridge sequence
Directors Jose Mare Avellana/ Cirio Santiago
Loretta Young Show Appeared in 1958 series as MYSELF a Korean Orphan
"Seed from the East" Documentary of Holt Children's Services-The first flight of 12.
“Bamboo Gods and Bionic Boys”
An evolving history of genre filmmaking in the
“Who is Don Gordon Bell?”
by Andrew Leavold
"You Ain't the Real Don Gordon!!"
In 1980 or 81, I was working on "American Commandos" (released on DVD 1985-also called “Hit Man”) with Christopher Mitchum and John Philip Law. When I met John Philip and Christopher both of them were expectantly looking forward to meeting "the real Don Gordon" of “Papillion” and “Bullet” fame! John Philip Law said, "you ain't Don Gordon!" I replied, "Well, I am really Donald Gordon Bell, I used Don Gordon for a screen name the last five years. There is a REAL Don Gordon? I didn’t know about him!"
Angry Adoptee? Who Me?
When I had Hypnotherapy this year (2009) many memories started to come back memories of the streets in Korea; like carrying rocks to throw, or a club, a sharpened stick. In middle school I took a 'church key' beer can opener, pounding it flat then sharpened it with my father’s files and grinder. Made a cardboard sheath and rammed a wooden handle on it. Voila, a ‘jailhouse shiv’ and I carried it to school in my back pocket. Only pulled it out once on a Mexican kid, Mike, who had flipped open a ‘switchblade’ and demanded some money from a group of us. He actually paused, surprised and curious, eased the blade back and slid it into his pocket. He asked to look at my ‘knife’ and seemed impressed.
Mike later gave me my first knife, a lovely traditional automatic push button style Switchblade, just like this one pictured. Notice the small sliding ‘safety’ behind the release button. One must remember to keep 'safety on' when knife is in FRONT pocket or you might have a sudden surprise opening, ouch! Also one does not want to ‘forget to unlock the safety’ and be pressing the release, oops. Mike was of Mexican/Italian heritage and welcomed me into his small 'gang'. He came up with a great idea, probably from his Italian roots, of providing ‘protection’ from other kids for a small weekly sum.
During my Junior High years I began to study TaeKwondo, the Korean martial art, an attempt to learn more about my Koreanness. I met through my American instructor the famous Jhoon Rhee, the father of international TaeKwonDo. Throughout my teens I studied everything I could on the fighting arts, seeking to identify with my Oriental/Asian side of me. Martial Arts training
What are You? Trans-racial adoptees
In all Trans-racial adoptions, the common question asked by curious well meaning but rather dull folks- may be one of many variations like these:
What country are you from?
What are you, exactly?
Where do you COME from?
Are you a JAP or (Fill in the Asian country)?
Oh, you're Oriental, aren’t you?
Hey, you $*^#**!!! Go back to _______!
What ARE you?
We Korean Adoptees and 'people of color' had to just deal with it, most were raised in small or medium size towns and cities throughout USA, but others were sent to European countries. Everyone has their stories and developed ways to answer. I dealt with it by getting tough and fighting back.