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.


This Thing of Ours-Adoption

 "This Thing of Ours-Adoption"




"The Sopranos"

La Cosa Nostra
"This Thing of Ours" 

La Cosa Nostra is the foremost organized criminal threat to American society. Literally translated into English it means “this thing of ours.”


Why does the Korean War Baby use this term “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”? It is because all the members of the Adoption Triad (Adoptee-Adoptive Family-Birth Family) PLUS extended groups that are involved directly in the process, ALL are part of the whole. Even spouses married to KAD's, well their children are Connected to this "WE" and the Korean/Asian sense of GROUP, has the direct translation of meaning "OUR THING". Thus I join the Mafia and Korean concepts together for "This Thing of Ours-Adoption".

Now some have claimed that ALL adoption is bad, that it separates children from their mothers. In some cases indeed mother's gave up their child due to pressure from their own Family, some religious groups because of being Unwed Mothers; majority of society still considers an Orphan OR Adoptee as having been flawed therefore rejected by their parents; there is certainly a lack of government support. Could this be because Korean Society just doesn't WANT fatherless children and orphans running around? 

A young woman who is not married but finds herself in an Unwanted Pregnancy would find it difficult to say the least, to raise her child on her own. Until five years ago the percentage of Unwed Mothers KEEPING THEIR CHILD was about 22 % but has risen in 2009 to 37 % who WANT to keep their babies. Government and NGO Korean Women's Development Institute figures show that about 33% of Unwed Mothers DID in fact keep their babies.

In the Mafia to say "this is a Friend of MINE" simply meant he was someone who did business with the Family of the "Made Man". A Made Man was a member of the local Family, not just a friend of mine. For another Made Man to be introduced it was said "This is a Friend of OURS" showing he was accepted and sworn to allegiance to "This Thing of OURS" and was treated as a Family Member.  

"This Thing of Ours-Adoption" had great implications to me, because of its meaning represents the Bonds and Close ties that link together all those involved. This Thing of Ours-Adoption also goes beyond just blood-ties, it is transcended by love for those who are not related by blood but by adoption, the Adoptive Parents and Family. I see the legal bonds of Adoption recognized by most States, and the bond of Love involved to be equal to Blood relationships. I can no more separate my feeling for my Adoptive Mother and Father than if I had been raised in Korea by my Korean mother. (Birth father is American).


This Thing of Ours-Adoption, includes more than the typical Adoption Triad-Adoptee, Birth Mother/Family, Adoptive Parents/Family. For it includes the governments of Sending and Receiving countries, social welfare ministries/workers, Adoption Agencies, NGO's and Private Aid Agencies, United Nations groups, Law Enforcement, Judicial systems, etc. OUR THING is huge, when you look at extended family members even. The KWB feels related to all his numerous  "brothers/sisters by-adoption".


Like “La Cosa Nostra”,  This Thing of Ours-Adoption is very complex, undergoing changes over the years, hopefully to eliminate the wrongs done by some who would profit from child-laundering, kidnapping, etc. But these are NOT all the cases, in fact there is NO ALL at all.


Spectrum of difference within






There is a spectrum of colors that represent so many aspects and different cases of real people, US. White Light is full of all the colors and it only takes a Prism to bend or refract the white light into its various rainbow of colors. In Adoption there are also many different experiences, from the great to horrible, the good, the bad, ugly, and beautiful. Domestic and Inter-Country adoptions, secret, open, closed, within families only, trans-racial, the list of variations are enormous and well, different yet similar. Commonality overlaps in many cases. The tragedies of life affect even "normal" families with divorce, death, illnesses, attachment disorders, incest, etc.
 
The KWB sees though, in the majority of cases Adoption is an answer, not the best but the next best for a child who is, for one reason or another given up, abandoned, thrown away, without relatives who WANT it, and simply needs a loving home. It is not easy for the child nor for the Adopting family, and we can do it better, with more Adoptive Families sharing their own stories on the internet. This is providing adoption professionals/prospective adoptees/adoptees/ etc. more information than in years past. Adherring to the Hague Conventions to prevent abuses is also extremely important. We push the Korean government to sign the Hague Convention into law on adoption/social welfare.


Adoption faces issues that Psychologists, Behavior Analysts, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Adoption Specialists have learned from many years of study and changing social environment, "Change you can believe in". PAP (Prospective Adoptive Parents) are given much more information on helping their adoptive child to adapt. They understand and discuss the effects of adoption and how to deal with it...PAP blogs and networks encourage better ways to support their 'blended' families. The internet is full of resources-blogs, websites, book lists, whatever is needed can be found.


In some 10% of adoption cases in the U.K. result in "failed adoptions" and there are other examples of abuses in certain countries. What else is new? There are those who profit but not all are motivated by these extremists. But what of the other 90%? Are they perfect, of course not. Life is not perfect nor are parents. A good friend of the KWB once remarked that his newborn child did not come with a "manual".


Abandonment Issues 


Each child does suffer within from the abandonment and separation from its natural birth mother. But to blame adoption for all problems in life seems to be too much, yet there are some who do so. This does not consider the complexity of the issues. 
Abortion, institutional life, foster home, slavery conditions in their home country…what adoption DOES do it give a chance for a home. Whether it is done in secret or closed conditions (as in Korea) or with ethnically related parents, the fact is that thousands of trans-racial adoptions have been “Successful”.
Surveys only touch on a tiny section, even the Evan Donaldson Adoption Institute (AdoptionInstitute) has surveys of less than 200 Korean adoptees. There are some recent finding by them that give recommendations to improve on the process. But some surveys have taken only 11 USA adoptees and extrapolated results to apply to the many thousands of KADs! What is that? How can 11 represent so many, impossible even for the KWB’s low math skills to comprehend.


The reasons for “giving up for adoption” are numerous, circumstances and pressures come into play. Any one reason cannot apply to the “ALL”, each part of the Spectrum has different facts, stories, etc. that does NOT apply to others in “This Thing of Ours-Adoption”. In seeking Balance though ALL stories must be examined and weighed, in context with the Whole, the White Light of "This Thing of Ours-Adoption".


It is written in the Bible, Koran, Hebrew scriptures, and other holy books of major religions, "Seek and you will Find". We should/can/must seek the whole truth from all the "colors contained within". (Again, the KWB sure likes the Spell Check/Word suggestions/Dictionary/Google Search, etc Tools that help us all find Knowledge- and he would be helpless without them. He even has an online bible program to search for verses...) 


The KWB does NOT know all the facts, please send him your information, links, opinions. A consensus can be found. Let us debate honorably in Adoption Discourse, and we just might make things better for the next generation of children in Korea.

Email me: koreanwarbaby@gmail.com 


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