When we first adopted from Korea, I thought my husband would go to Korea to bring our daughter home, we’d finalize the adoption and that it would be that. Instead, he came home fascinated with the people and culture of S. Korea. We began trying out Korean restaurants, he took a cooking class and Korean artwork and books began to show up in our home. Several years later I made my first trip to Korea to bring home our third Korean-born child. I, too, came home fascinated.
Last night I arrived at Incheon Airport in Seoul, S. Korea for my fifth visit. As I prepared for the trip I anxiously anticipated the sights, sounds and smells of this country. While still in the airport, the smell of sesame oil reached my nose. The smell of Grandma’s apple pie baking in the oven certainly evokes memories and emotions of my own childhood experience, but now my nose knows two cultural experiences. The smell of the sesame oil was comforting and exciting. It’s the smell that wafts through our home when my husband cooks Korean food; it’s the smell that greets me at the entrance of the Asian market at home; it’s the smell that permeates this country.
I am thrilled to be back in S. Korea. I am not Korean; I have my own Finnish heritage (which I’m less familiar with than I am with my children’s Korean heritage), but when we adopted our children, in many ways, we adopted their birth culture and country. Being here I feel a sense of familiarity and connection.