When children celebrate birthdays, their family recalls memories of bringing the brand-new baby home from the hospital to other siblings and eagerly awaiting family members.
Instead, my parents remember flying to Gaozhou, China, after nine months of paperwork and interviews with stern Chinese officials to adopt a 10-month-old girl.
We have chosen to celebrate April 17 as “Adoption Day” or “Forever Family Day.”
Last week was my 17th Adoption Day, so I’d like to share some random thoughts about being adopted.
I can quickly spot myself in family photos since I’m the only Asian on either side of the family!
I cherish the look on the waiter’s face when I ask for a fork at a Chinese restaurant. They assume it’s for my white parents then are dumbfounded when I look bewilderedly at my chopsticks, set them down and use the fork.
Is Mom or Dad embarrassing me? I can say, “I don’t know them. We’re not related! Hey, we aren’t even the same race!” Everyone believes me.
When I misbehave (which is never), my parents can’t use the excuse, “I brought you into this world, so I can take you out of it.” However, if they wanted to, they could say “I bought you into this world.”
Celebrating Adoption Day is pretty much like having two birthdays: going out to eat, some presents, a heartfelt card, a dessert of my choosing.
Filling out medical history forms is fast! For family medical history, I just write “not applicable.”
When people discuss family resemblances, I always voice my concern. Both my parents have brown hair, but I have black hair. Both of my parents have green eyes, but I have brown eyes. I wonder if they’re not telling me something …
People sometimes ask if I’m refering to my parents or my “real parents.” I don’t think it gets more real than changing my diaper, reading me bedtime stories, enduring European metal and pretending to be excited about visiting antique book shops for hours.
I love when people exclaim in shock, “You’re adopted!?” My response is, “What? Am I? Surely, two white people just happened to have an Asian child.”
Being out with one of my parents is entertaining when someone says, “Oh, so your mom/dad must be Asian.” When I say no, I like to see how long it takes them to figure it out. Some people never stop looking perplexed.
When people start speaking to me in Chinese, or any other Asian language, I tell them that I can’t understand a word they’re saying. Some people don’t believe me and think I’m being rude. They become angry, but the joke’s on them.
“So technically you can still marry your cousins because you’re adopted?!” Ew, no. Just no.
My father’s office is decorated with calligraphy scrolls, and my mother cooks a mean stir-fry. If you walk into our house, you can hear “erhu” and “guqin” music over the stereo. From painted vases to rice paper screens, my house is filled with Asian art and furniture. Ah, now I understand how I got here.
—By Nicole Wolkov