Posts Tagged ‘In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee’

A Post by Holt adoptee #A-20

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

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.” (more…)


“In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee” impressions

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Last night I watched a third documentary on PBS told from the point of view of an adoptee. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is different from the two previous offerings—Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy and Off and Running—because the subject of the film, Deann Borshay Liem, is also the filmmaker. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is Liem’s second documentary about adoption, building on themes introduced in her first film, First Person Plural.

I don’t know if it’s possible for me to watch any documentary about adoption without feeling great sorrow. In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is no different. For me, there is no adoption story that doesn’t contain, at its center, a profound sense of loss. (I wrote my book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir,  to help me process the overwhelming emotions I felt about adopting my own daughter.) Although I’m writing this piece the day after watching In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee, I still feel sad and depressed.

That said, as an adoptive parent, I have learned so much from hearing the stories of children and adults were adopted. My sincere hope is that my generation of adoptive parents continues to learn from the experiences of the first wave of parents and children, who share their stories with eloquence and candor.

Deann Borshay Liem grew up as Kang Ok Jin in an orphanage in Korea, placed there by her mother, a widow who struggled to support her five children. In the same orphanage was another little girl, Cha Jung Hee, who was receiving monthly letters from her American sponsors, the Borshays. Days before the Borshays requested to adopt Cha Jung Hee, the girl was taken from the orphanage by her father and not returned. Rather than disappoint the Borshays, the orphanage directors substituted eight-year-old Kang Ok Jin, by pasting her photo onto the passport of Cha Jung Hee, and sending her instead. The orphange staff warned Kang Ok Jin, soon to become Deann Borshay, not to reveal her true identity. (more…)