28 nov. 2008

Loving message for a lost mother

Du site Joong Ang Daily, publié le 26 novembre 2008, par Moon Gwang-lip

Loving message for a lost mother

People peruse an information board about adoptees set up at Busan Station last Saturday during the “Birth Family Search Campaign" by GOAL, the biggest Korean adoptee supportive group based in Seoul. The week-long event was held in Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gunsan until yesterday and wraps up in Incheon tomorrow. Provided by GOAL
Donald Gordon Bell, known only as A-20 when he was a child at a Seoul orphanage, has long sought his biological mother to give her a message. But this 56-year-old adoptee’s message is not one of resentment, as one with a stereotypical view of adoptees might assume.

Instead, it is to convey his gratitude for her decision to give him away. He said it comes from an understanding of the situation she found herself in. “I want her to know I don’t have any grudge against her,” said Bell, who grew up in Los Angeles after he was adopted at the age of four.

His adoptive father was an aerospace engineer, while his adoptive mother was a housewife who had fostered him and his biological sister, also adopted by the Bells.

Bell is a psychiatrist who has turned to specialize in helping fellow adoptees, settling in Korea in 1995. “She lovingly gave us up for a better life,” he said. Bell has been searching for his biological mother for decades.

Not all adoptees lead happier lives in their country of adoption, Bell said, but such had been the case for him. Bell was born to a Korean mother and an American soldier in 1952 in the midst of the Korean War.

He spoke of the discrimination and hatred in Korea toward mixed-blood children, which still persists even though it is gradually diminishing. He said there were approximately 9,000 mixed-race Korean children adopted between 1954 and the early 1960s, which accounted for a majority of Korean adoptees sent overseas at the time.

“Adoption was the best thing especially for mixed-race children. It’s very difficult for mixed-race children to live here,” Bell said.

Donald Gordon Bell photographed before he was adopted by an American family
Bell said his mother entrusted him and his sister, also born into the same American father, to the reception center of World Vision in Seoul, a philanthropic organization that helps children find adoptive parents.

He said he understands how painful it must have been for his mother after she gave him and his sister up for adoption.

Donald Gordon Bell at a recent event in Seoul. Provided by Donald Gordon Bell
“Many mothers who give up their children continue to suffer and they feel the pain and loss. They never forget their child is out there,” Bell said.

He said he once gave up the quest to find his birth mother, given the scant information he had about his birth and mother. His mother would be in her mid 70s if still alive, he said.

But, he is “giving it one more shot” and GOAL, the biggest Korean adoptee supportive group based in Seoul, is helping him in his efforts.

GOAL has been holding its annual birth family search campaign for around 1,800 adoptees registered with it in five big cities since last week, which will wrap up in Incheon tomorrow.

“Even if it’s only one adoptee that can find his or her parents, we will continue with our campaign,” said Daewon Wenger, the secretary general of GOAL, adding the campaign will continue in years to come.

By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Reporter [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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