I’m sitting awake in the middle of the night in a town in central S. Korea. Tonight was supposed to have been our homestay night with a Korean family. Because of the size of our family it would have been two Korean families, actually; our family needed to split into two groups in order to be accommodated by the host families. The homestay is a part of this tour that I knew from the beginning I did not want to do. My husband and at least some of the kids echoed my feelings. For two months, since finding out about the homestay, my husband has been suggesting that I contact the group leader about alternative options. I did not make our concerns known, however, because I was really trying to go along with this “group trip” idea and I didn’t want to make problems for the group leaders. Well, as we made our way by bus to the city where we were to stay, my apprehensions grew and, eventually, popped. I lost my composure and “flapped” as my oldest son would say. My comfort level had been breached and I couldn’t move on. After talking with the tour leader I tried to say that we’d go ahead with the homestay, as planned, but he graciously offered us the option of a night in a nearby hotel.
I feel terrible about disappointing the two families that were to have hosted us. I am quite sure that they went to great trouble to prepare for our arrival. It’s especially ironic that this wasn’t comfortable for me since we love to host visitors in our home. However, I do not regret that we did not experience a Korean home; we will do that on a day visit with our oldest daughter’s birth family. What I learned, though (which my children had great fun pointing out to me), was that I should have followed my heart and spoken with the tour leader two months ago. Our plans could have been altered, the stress and apprehension could have been avoided and the two families would not have been inconvenienced. As my middle son said, “Mom, you always tell us that we should talk about what’s bothering us. You tell us that we can’t be helped with our problems if we don’t tell anybody that something is wrong.” Well, that’s just what I had done. I had not informed the people in charge about our level of discomfort with the plan and then the issue came to a head too late to remedy the situation without undue harm.
As I’ve sat awake tonight (I haven’t slept through the night since we arrived) thinking about what my son said, I realized that, in addition to needing to vocalize my concerns, I’ve also learned another lesson. Sitting here in the dark I realized that, in anticipation of this trip, I did not plan for my own care. I’ve been so concerned about helping my children through this trip back to their birth country and helping my oldest daughter navigate the experience of meeting her birth family, that I didn’t think about the toll that caring for others was likely to put on me. We’ve traveled a lot with our large family and I’m used to counting heads and herding children across streets and through crowds, but I’m not used to adding in the intense emotions that this type of trip was sure to have on my children and how those emotions also effect me. I’ve had in my mind that this trip is all about the adoptees on the trip, but the reality is, the adoptees are all part of families and we are all affected by the discoveries and, in some cases, the reunions the adoptees in our families are experiencing.
So, I should have talked to the group leader; I should have “used my words” as my husband pointed out and I should have acknowledged that this trip would be an emotional roller coaster ride for me as well as my children. Lesson...no, Lessons learned! (I hope.)