Growing up, I always got this weird look from people when they saw me with my parents. It was this “are-those-really-your-parents?” kind of look. You see, my parents are white and I am Asian.Read the whole thing -- great insight into an adopted teen's mind. At the end of the essay, there's a moving poem by Guritz entitled Where I'm From.
I was adopted from China when I was about four months old, but I have no connection with Asia other than the words on my birth certificate. I’ve grown up speaking English my whole life. I go to school, hang out with friends, complain about homework and experience many other things typical of any normal American teenager. Honestly, I consider myself just as American as anyone else in Papillion.
When taking a pre-ACT test for a class, in the section about race, the teacher told us to mark the race we identified with culturally. This caused a minor complication for me, because I knew they wanted me to fill in the bubble marked “Asian,” but that wasn’t who I was. Yes, physically, I was Asian, but culturally I belonged under “Caucasian.”
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I don’t remember when the “Asian jokes” started for me. All I know is that throughout elementary school I was often bothered by kids pulling at their eyes, attempting to make other kids laugh. I didn’t like feeling I was being made fun of, even indirectly. I was very shy in school, so most of the time the jokes wouldn’t be directed toward me. Usually, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But that didn’t make their jokes any less offensive. Every time this kind of situation appeared, I was reminded that I didn’t look like my classmates. I felt like I didn’t belong and started to wish that I hadn’t been adopted, or that I looked more like my peers.
When I was ten, everything changed. My parents began taking me to a summer camp dedicated completely to adoptees.
Being “Yellow” and Ashamed
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