In A Perfect World

My children are Asian in a Caucasian world. It sounds like such a simple statement. But it’s really not. People who adopt outside of their own race tend to see a child. Not an Asian child or a Black child or a Hispanic child….or any of the combinations in between. We see just a plain old child whose toes we have kissed and whose hair we have learned to style. We see the child that stresses about oatmeal for breakfast and spelling tests and social studies projects. A child.

And since they don’t really see themselves, as a rule, I think it takes a while for a trans racially adopted child to see that their parents are different from them. My son was blessed to attend a small daycare that encompassed a myriad of shades in it’s clientele for a couple of years. The director/teacher tried very hard to foster acceptance and awareness of differences. She worried that my son wasn’t aware of his. After spending a week or two collecting pictures of faces of many races, she set out having her students compile a mural about themselves. They were to select pictures to glue on their posters beginning with a face that looked like theirs. My son looked them all over carefully and then selected one of an adult Black man. His teacher tried to get him to exchange it for the Asian face but he said ‘no’….that the one he had was correct because he had black hair too.

Because we knew the state of things in his elementary school, we started early ‘desensitizing’ him to looks and stares and questions. We hoped that we were giving him tools to help people understand and to make him proud of being ‘different.’ We must have done our job well enough because it never crossed our minds to do the same with our daughter. The first time she was teased about her ‘Chinese Eyes’, it devestated her….and ME. But that moment was just a blip in her expanding world. She is well liked because she is funny and positive and a gifted athlete. My son has a killer sense of humor, a dry wit and is also a gifted athlete. He is a quiet kind of leader, willing to follow and not really understanding that he has others waiting to follow HIS lead.

We were having dinner in a restaurant in my sister’s small southern town recently. I caught a lot of people – especially older people – watching my children. Some, in the same way that I watched the little girls with huge bows and freckled face boys with big eyes at the buffet bar….and some not the same way at all. People wonder. And so do I. I wonder if it is going to matter that they have been raised a minority in a Caucasian world. I wonder if it’s going to matter that they have really shown no interest in learning more about Korea or Russia. I wonder if it will matter that I never forced it on them. I wonder if their birth origins will matter to the people they want to spend time with…..to date. I wonder if knowing so little about their biological family will matter healthwise. In a perfect world it won’t. And when we can look at another person and not see the Asian face…the Black face…the Hispanic face….or any of the combinations in between….just a person….it will be a perfect world.

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