OK, I’m Caucasian. Your run of the mill brownish reddish (who am I kidding – grayish) haired woman with blue eyes and blinding white skin (seriously, you need sunglasses when I’m at the pool). The Hubs is your run of the mill Chinese guy. Dark eyes, dark hair, brownish skin. Our kids are gorgeous. Just ask me, I’ll tell you. They have brownish greenish eyes, brownish reddish blackish hair and beautiful caramelly skin. They are “exotic,” if you will.
They are striking and their dominate features look more Asian than Caucasian so they barely resemble me at all. Often I am asked if they are adopted. Not just by white folks either. When my son was a baby Asian people would seek me out to ask me “Where is he from?” or “What is he”?
The first few times it took me by surprise. I’ve never in my life asked a stranger about their baby other than maybe asking their age or name. I’ve never used our five minutes of alone time in the elevator with a stranger to inquire about their child’s origins.
Once I got over my shock and realized that people were just genuinely curious I started doing what I do best when I’m uncomfortable – I was a smart ass. “Where is he from?” was usually met with: “My womb” or if I was feeling particularly saucy: “My vagina.” One day I had a girl taking our order at Sonic ask me, “What is your baby mixed with?’ At least she recognized he was half me, so I gave her my, now standard, answer to that question: “Love.”
My kids are older now and people don’t accost me as much now. About a year ago was the last time. My kids had been away all weekend and I had just picked them up. I was treating them to their favorite fast food establishment that begins with an “M” and ends with a “cd” and the girl behind the counter said, “Did you just get them?” I thought, How strange! How did she know we’ve been apart and I just picked them up? I replied (stupidly): “Yes, I did.”
“That’s so cool,” she said. “Can they speak English or anything?” Huh? Oh crap. She thinks I just got them. From Asia!
“Oh, I think I misunderstood your question. They’re mine,” I said.
“Right,” she said, speaking to me like I was brain damaged. “Of course they’re yours. Because you adopted them. I didn’t mean to offend. Are they siblings?”
“No. Yes. They are siblings. Because they’re mine. I gave birth to them. They are my biological children. They’re not adopted.”
“Seriously?!” she said. “I never would have guessed.”
That day I wasn’t offended, but my kids were. My kids are always looking for physical similarities between myself and them. We hold our arms next to one another and the difference in color is huge. Our eyes are different shapes. Both of my kids have my hair texture and I tell them that as often as I can.
I can understand how they feel, because even though I am not adopted, nor am I mixed race, I still look nothing like my parents or my brother. My parents and my brother are tall and dark. They have dark eyes, brown (grayish now) and dark complexions. I’ve always looked like the strange short, pale kid they found in the cabbage patch and took in. When I was younger it bothered me that I didn’t look like them. I saw my friends who looked like mini-me’s and I wanted desperately to be like that.
It doesn’t matter if you’re adopted or biological, there’s a good chance you won’t look much like your parents. People shouldn’t just assume that because the kid doesn’t look like the parent, they’re adopted. I’m just trying to help educate the world one fast food worker at a time.
The thing I try to stress to my kids is that people are curious about them. People recognize that they’re different and they want to know why. Almost everyone who talks to us are truly interested in knowing their background and have a compliment for them. I’m happy to stop and talk to people as long as they’re polite and respectful to us. I have rarely met anyone who said anything negative about the fact that they’re mixed race. Actually, the only person who ever had a problem, never actually said it out loud, he wrote it in the dirt of my car window. I went into a store with Gomer and came back to find Go Home “N” word written on my rear window. (Thanks for that, douchebag. PS I think you got your racial slurs mixed up. He’s a “chonky.”) Now I just keep my car cleaner so I don’t have to read that sort of nonsense.
Be sure to read my daily rants at People I Want to Punch in the Throat where you’re sure to laugh and/or might be offended (it’s where you can find my R-rated rants).
Read more of Jen on Babble - Why Do Parents Complain They’re Busy? or Why Does Pinterest Look Like it’s Christmas in July? or Days of Our Lives With 13 Year Olds
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