So here is what I am learning…there are no more adoptees participating in the process to create new adoption legislation in Korea, the one NGO in Korea for adoptees lost federal funding, adult adoptee organizations here continue to struggle for funding, adoptees are not considered overseas Koreans, post-adoption services are severely understaffed for the demand that is out there, the time children are in care is growing exponentiallly, there remain over 200 orphanages without any talk of shutting them down and there are over thousands of children who are waiting for a family to adopt them.
It does leave me to wonder, is Korea trying to tell us adoptees something? The way I see it, we keep making these mass pilgrimmages to the motherland, spend a LOT of money there, stay at hotels, take a ton of cabs and go to every tourist trap, temple and store there. We even take our families there not just once but many times. In the last 15 years, I have been to Korea at least six times. The airfare alone on KoreanAir is nothing to turn your nose up at. I haven’t traveled anywhere else six times.
Maybe it’s time to change the strategy. Rather than waiting for reparations, what about asking for tours again, trips again, photo ops again. I don’t mean that to be patronizing. If we believe we are Korean and belong there as much as here in the United States, if we believe we are the bridge to straddle both worlds with ease and grace, then rather than a “please” we could turn it into a “how.” How can we be at the table? How can we be seen as adults who have something to offer? How can we make this into a negotiation?
Maybe it isn’t just about strategy but the way I think about all of this. After all, there is a bit of a “fuck you” that I can get when around Korean people. Perhaps I am more ambivalent than I would like to admit about my ‘motherland’ and not really certain that I want all in. Being outside is comfortable for me, I know that. Anytime I feel like I have an in with a group, I purposely downplay it to reach for someone else who is outside. Does Korea sense this? Is the feeling mutual? They are so used to us being on the outside and to break that boundary is simply too foreign?
All I know that on this day, today, I miss Korea. I called my Umma three times this week, an unheard of event in the 17 years I have known her. I keep making up reasons to call her – my speech, son II’s birthday, my birthday, son I’s birthday….I miss hearing Korean spoken just for me.