Thursday, March 23, 2006

NY TImes Article and My Cousin R~

Here is a link to an article in the NY Times, regarding children adopted from Asia who are trying to form a racial identity. http://

One of the commentators says, about the adopted children, "the children need real contact with Asian-Americans, not just waiters in restaurants on Chinese New Year."

Now, I can tell you I fully intend to integrate" Samuel's" Vietnamese culture into our lives and I think it will be important for him to have contact with other Vietnamese people, especially children adopted from Vietnam.

But, I want to play devil's advocate, and the reason I want to do so has to do with my cousin, R~, and her husband, L~.

R~ is the tri-racial child of a white mother (my aunt) and a man who was bi-racial, Cherokee and black (or African American. R~ prefers the term black, and since it's R~ I am speaking of, that's what I'll use.)

R~ is strikingly beautiful, with a cafe-au-lait complexion and the prominent cheekbones of her Cherokee grandmother, she looks like she should be on the cover of Vogue.

Her husband, L~, is also the child of a white mother and a black father, and is also striking to look at. His skin tone is almost identical to R~'s.

When they announced they were expecting a baby, everyone assumed the child would have skin the color of her parents - coffee and cream. Even R`'s mother expected this, and R`'s mother has a master degree in genetics.

So, we were all rather surprised to find a redheaded, blue eyed, white child emerge from this union.

Now, in retrospect, my aunt worked out the odds of two bi-racial (or tri-racial) people having a white baby, and it's something like 1 in 16. Or possibly 1 in 8. I can't remember exactly, but, it's not like winning the lottery or getting hit by lightening or anything.

My point is this: this child is white. Her parents are not. Do her parents have some kind of duty to expose her to white people on purpose? Will she flounder without a racial identity? (They live in a racial diverse neighborhood in a large city in the Pacific Northwest. )

I don't know the answers to these questions. I do think this child will have some issues to face - R~ already comments that she truly resents being mistaken for her nine month old daughter's "nanny" whereever they go. I imagine that when she starts school, other children may say cruel things to her - the same kind of things they said to her mother they said to her mother as a child.

But, I'm just not sure that what one LOOKS LIKE is tied into one's IDENTITY as a human being as much as this article seems to imply.

The fact that my second son will come from another culture on the other side of the world, THAT will certainly impact his idenity. The fact that he was abandoned by his biological mother and chosen by my husband and I - that will have a HUGE impact on his identity and personality. But I am not sure, or at least I don't want to believe his skin tone will be linked to his ability to form a sense of identity.

I guess only time will tell on this issue...Check back with me in 17 years...I'll tell you how it all turned out. ;-)


Blogger Robinson 4 said...

Isn't is amazing how genetics are just a random game? Have you seen pictures of the bi-racial couple (both parents had one white and one black parent each) that gave birth to twins last year...literally one was blonde haired, blue eyed and then the other was much darker, just like her parents?!

Thursday, March 23, 2006 5:30:00 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

I have seen those twins! Isn't that amazing. I sent a story about them to my cousin.

Friday, March 24, 2006 3:17:00 PM  

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