A Post by Holt adoptee #A-20

This comment by Don Gordon Bell appeared in response to my September 15  blog, “In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee Impressions.”  Born in Korea and adopted to the United States in 1956, Don Gordon Bell moved to South Korea in 1995. In my opinion, his thoughtful and long-term perspective on international adoption merits its own blog post. Learn more about Bell’s life story and insights into adoption at his website, KoreanWarBaby.

“I am Holt adoptee #A-20, was on the First plane from Holt Adoption Program, leaving on May21, 1956. I was a founding member of GOA’L which Ami Nafzger founded in 1998 and active since I moved to South Korea in 1995.”

“The film is powerful and yet as you say cannot answer many questions, which is true in most cases. Even the many Cha Jung Hee that [filmmaker Deann Borshay] Diem met (There are only so many names in Korea, 35 family names so many with same name) demonstrate that life is Korea would have been so different. One cannot change their past but instead deal with it. I have found that though the attitude of Korean society is slowly changing it is still a shameful and embarrassing thing (adoption) to speak about.”

“I have studied the situation in present day Korea and one thing left out is this, CIVIL CODE LAW adoption accounts for double the so called DOMESTIC adoptions as the Korean Women’s Development Institute figures show. On my blog I link to their reports that show that there are two ways of Koreans to adopt but the Civil Code is double the numbers.”

“Everyday in 2008, 21 babies were born to Unwed Mothers and about 6 were kept by their mothers. 3.4 were sent to Oversea countries for InterCountry Adoption and 3.6 were adopted through the four Adoption Agencies called Domestic adoptions. Where did the other 7 or 8 children go? Court records show that they were adopted through the provisions of the Civil Code Law that does not vet them properly. Hopefully according to Steven Morrison all adoption will be under the same guidelines. The fact remains that for every ICA adoption over the past decade, there were THREE adopted SECRETLY (97% are kept secret because of the prejudice of others).”

“I believe that more films need to document the GOOD stories and hope to see that happen. No matter why, Korean women had to face and still do the prejudice of being unwed, single, with little support (less than 80 USD per month), family rejection, society’s scorn, etc. The reasons from the Korean War no longer apply and modern life has actually made it easier for daily 4,000 Abortions to be done by Korean women who can make that choice. Only 21 each day were born alive.”

“I would call THAT lucky to be born. It is a good that more Unwed mothers seem to be keeping their babies but thousands of children grow up in institutional life and become second class citizens. I will post on Steve’s report at the IKAA.”

“Thank you for blogging from your viewpoint as an Adoptive Parent. Every side must be listened to and perhaps we can Do it better. I for one am most appreciative that God gave me a home in the USA. Yet I do hope Korea changes for the best. Until that day, ICA must continue for Every Child deserves a home.”

Don Gordon Bell
Korean War Baby



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