For the last year and a half I’ve written about our lives together. Adoption was often the focal point of those writings. To my surprise very little of what I wrote was inspired by how others reacted to our family. Strangers haven’t stopped and asked us “Where’s your daughter from?” or “How much did she cost?”. When people see Penelope and I together they don’t ask “Is her mother Chinese?” I can count on one hand the number of times a stranger mentioned Penelope’s heritage. What we typically hear is “She’s so adorable/cute/beautiful”, a sentiment I agree with.
I’ve often asked myself, why is this? Not to give anyone the wrong impression. I don’t want to get the rude and impertinent questions. I have no interest in strangers asking about the financials of adoption with Penelope standing by my side. So far I can think of two reasons our transracial adoption raised so few eyebrows. Where we live and the year of the adoption.
Atlanta is a southern city, but a city nonetheless. It has a diverse racial mix. It has several Asian communities, a Taiwanese sponsored cultural center and shopping mall, and a university with a dedicated East Asian study program. Several Mandarin immersion schools, including one charter school south of the city, are spread across the metro and surrounding area. We have choices for pre-K Mandarin classes for Penelope. A far cry from the comments I’ve read from families in less diverse or populous towns.
We adopted in 2012. By the time we returned from China tens of thousands of transracial families were living in the States. Korean adoptees and their families bore the brunt of discrimination starting in the 60’s. In the 90’s China opened up to western families, creating another influx of families with children from Asia. By the time Jenn, Penelope, and I stepped off the Korean Air flight and into the International terminal at Hartsfield Jackson, we were just another family to the people around us. Sure, we looked different. But not different and unique. I’m sure some people had questions. Others thought we were perverting the natural order of race and family. And some just thought we were caught up in an international adoption craze. Yet no one said a word. No one stared.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the attention. And I think it’s inevitable that questions and eyebrows will be raised when Penelope gets older. A sixteen year old Chinese girl and fifty year old Puerto Rican/white guy might do that. I’m not even saying discrimination and inquiring minds won’t confront us in the near future. I’m just pleasantly surprised the past year and a half has been drama-free.
Here’s to hoping the next year and a half will be more of the same.