Meatless in Korea

An adoptee friend of mine recently wrote an essay at the highly caffeinated Land of Gazillion Adoptees website.  You know, that one started by the Korean adoptee Kevin Ost Vollmers, who once worked for the adoption industry and then got so disgusted by what he saw there that he’s turned into one of the most outspoken anti-adoption critics ever?   Anyway, this essay, Meat Market , has gotten a lot of press amongst us Asians and Adoptees, and I wanted to share it with you.

What struck me first by this essay, and which continued to plague me,  was the title.  How could something so significant be marginalized to the lowest degree like that?  Sure, it’s fleeting and all, but to consider your fellow brothers and sisters in adversity nothing more than meat???  But then I realized it is self-reflective, because the adoptee community here is our first reflection of ourselves, and we have deeply been ingrained all our lives to marginalize ourselves because we didn’t reflect the rest of society where we were raised.

It’s so beautifully written, you just ache when reading it.  And every bit of it is accurate too.  It’s bitter-sweet and ironic for me in that here I live in the same place yet live in a society imposed celibacy.  Like the other adoptees, I suffer romantically from  being a Korean who can’t speak Korean and being a foreigner who doesn’t look foreign – whatever I have to share is incommunicable, and whatever I can’t communicate is not exotic enough.   It doesn’t matter if you’re Korean or a foreigner – one of those will make me all wrong every time.   And unlike them I don’t have other adoptees to turn to, because I’m two decades older than most of them.  But as you can see by this essay, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I wouldn’t want to turn to them – even if they did desire my company – even if I acknowledge what a relief it is to dip my foot in the relaxing water of not having to explain what I am.  It’s like another version of Looking for Mr. Goodbar.  We grope in the dark.  We obsess over our scars.  Like infants we try to absorb some meaning through orifices.  And with each hollow disappointing encounter, continue the myth/quest that knowledge can be passed on this way, or relationship can be encapsulated.   I know this because I looked for Mr. Goodbar long before I should have.

I’ve always questioned just what is meant by adoptee community here.  Sometimes I think it means any number above 1.   It certainly doesn’t mean participation.  It certainly doesn’t mean agreement on politics.  From my observations, it has more to do with the elation you feel when you discover you’re not the only one.  And it’s a euphoric feeling when you find you can be part of a group that you have instant membership to, and such a relief to not have to explain what you are.  But that relief is short lived. It’s like taking a barbiturate:  it’s addictive, and its intoxication is soon replaced by depression.  What attracted you to them in the first place was that they are just like you.  And then you realize once you get to know them:  omg, they are so messed up, and they ‘re just like me?   You want to embrace them in all ways, and then (I imagine) the embrace becomes disturbing, as if you just slept with a clone of yourself.   And maybe that loathing you’re experiencing is really self-loathing.  How many mirrors can one person stand?  What is it like to live in the fun house when you can’t leave and it’s all you’ve got?

Yes.  I’m certainly glad I did not come here in my twenties, an age when people have a hard enough time sorting themselves out amongst all they’ve known, much less through dislocation.  They are brave souls and it’s psychically dangerous.  But you know, what doesn’t kill you…

4 thoughts on “Meatless in Korea

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