In 10 days, I’m leaving what’s familiar to return to a foreign society that relinquished me nearly thirty years ago. This is how I imagine my first moments back in the country:
Me: Hi Korea, when you sent me away, did you think I’d come back? Did you think I’d return, so. . . so angry, and loud?
Korea: Hi 정, errrr, Jeong, or is it Stacy? Actually, it’s much easier to commodify human life if we just refer to you as Case #85C-671. And no, we didn’t anticipate your return. We especially didn’t think you’d come back so upset, with too many emotions. Plus, you don’t even sound Korean!
Me: Well, I’m back. Like the others, I’m on my return migration. I always knew I’d get back here. You thought it would be easy to keep us away? Rather than come up with solutions that would have allowed my eomeoni to raise me, you thought it better to erase my original existence and send me away. Well, I’m back, and I’m here to hold you accountable.
Korea: Don’t you speak any Korean?
No, I don’t actually expect Korea to talk to me when I get there. I realize this is not likely to happen. However, there is something empowering about imagining this conversation with Korea.
This return migration has multiple meanings. I’m an adopted Korean American on my first trip back to Korea, initiating a search for my birth family. I’m also a social work student completing an international field placement with KoRoot and Adoptee Solidarity Korea (more on what I’ll be doing with these organizations later). I view things through multiple lenses as an adopted person, adoption professional, and social worker. I am certain that this experience will be an opportunity for growth in each aspect of myself.
My hope is to use this space as a platform to share my experiences while completing an international field placement in Seoul, Korea as a master’s level social work student. Through my reflection, I hope that you are able to gain some insight into social justice issues surrounding international adoption and Korean society.