It seems every time I am in a hotel for an adoptee event, there is some correlation with the Korean War. Once again, I walked in the lobby to see men in uniform commemorating the armistice of the Korean War. Even a coffee at a neighboring hotel, I find the one set of seats next to a group of veterans from England talking story with each other. Curious “unmyeong” or destiny? No matter, it has not dampened one minute the celebratory nature of IKAA’s gathering.
Admittedly, my participation in the gathering events are peripheral in nature. I am here with my kids, so I am out and about most of the time walking a ton without really thinking about what is going on back at the hotel. My boys have made friends with another family with boys their age with the same obsession for Minecraft and card games. The only difference is that they are from the Netherlands. I am always amazed at the lack of ceremony stood on the fact that verbal communication is troubling. My big boy pulled out a set of Top Trump cards and for the next hour, they were all hunched over sitting under the hot humid sun playing cards and trying to navigate the point system without the aide of a common language. Of course, our crazy American school system lags behind in learning other languages and with a year of English under his belt, the oldest one at 10, managed just fine. Then again, Minecraft has its own language which none of us adults seem to understand at all. They enjoyed each other so much we went swimming all together after our day trip without skipping a beat. Unmyeong.
Meanwhile, we adults are completely dependent on English no matter where the adoptee was raised. So thankful for that personally. However, it is the Korean that is giving some of us trouble. For our first family excursion out, some of us brought our birthfamily members along for the day. Despite the many looks from the other Korean Korean people who knew full well we were not natives, our birthmothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, neices and nephews blended right in without fanfare. It was lovely despite the awkward silences and broken Korean/English passing through. Even when my Umma was living with us for three months in NY, we didn’t get to spend this kind of quality time. She watched the shoes while the boys waded in the water, she fanned the boys to cool them from the heat, she gossiped with me about her thoughts on how much to push my brother to get married. I find I am not so prickly this time around. Language is less of an issue this time, but I think I am just getting used to her as well. So far so good.
Of course, you put a group of adoptees together and then find our kids get along nicely, we start to talk and share our stories. It is never lost on us that our lives have had odd destinies. I could have been Dutch and she could have been American. Our birth parents are not different in their thinking. My Umma thought I went to Europe and another adoptee’s birthfather thought she was sent to the United States. Unmyeong.
What has happened over the last day has been filled with many wonderful memories for my children already. They made friends, they have eaten quite a lot of bulgogi and while they miss their puppy in New York seem to be just fine knowing they are going to be in Korea for more days. For now, Lotte Hotel is home.
Tonight, George and I got to go out for a spell and have that drink we rarely get to have alone. Umma was happy to stay in the room with our sleeping babies. Lovely.