The down side about being out of the fog is there is no reprieve from adoption awareness, which is why my friend probably mentioned it in the first place. Here in Korea, of course, it’s even that much harder. Working as an adoption reform activist, it’s freaking impossible.
I can recall about four years ago, about two and a half weeks into my Caribbean vacation, how I had to get away from my vacation but there was no escape. There I was — in a third world country I’d never been before, searching for people I’d never met before to deliver aid, all the while trying to maneuver with poor foreign language skills while being hustled at every turn, eating and sleeping poorly, and wilting under the blazing sun. I even found myself in the ludicrous position of having to take detours to the place I was staying in order to avoid a particular person who would turn my vacation into hell, all because connections to place can be both a positive and a negative thing.
On that day, I ducked into a hotel lobby and walked through to their outside bar area and found myself in an oasis of expats, decent food and drink, and attentive service. And suddenly the misery, poverty, mean streets, stress of not being able to communicate, and the tension of being assaulted by a foreign culture that yelled loudly and laughed loudly and felt dangerous and all of the injustice and history and blood sacrifices of those people your heart empathized with in that place just melted away and I was restored for a few hours. I left a new person; ready to hit the streets again.
In Korea, there is no such place for me. In one world I am conspicuous. In this world I am anomalous, and therefore also conspicuous, despite blending in…Step into an oasis and once again I am conspicuous. Find others like yourself, and all they do is talk about their pain and discomfort. So there is no real escape. Ever. Even when you ask for there to be a moratorium on adoption talk, they just. can’t. do. it.
I now know why most of the 500 who live here disappear. Like me, they’re probably waiting for the first opportunity to get. the. hell. out. and escape from their identity exploration and move on to some place where people don’t talk and others don’t ask and you can just sip your drink in peace and re-charge.
Not that this is by any stretch of the imagination a vacation…