I didn’t grow up with apes or completely isolated by society by any means, but I did grow up with a white dad, a Taiwanese mom, and three brothers who were half-white, half-Taiwanese. I am none of these things.
When I was three, I was adopted from China. It’s rarely something that I like to open with even though it’s probably one of my most defining or at the very least more interesting aspects of my life. As I was growing up though, I avoided it as much as buy phentermine possible, and it was easy. I looked a like my mom who had been adopted from Taiwan. My friends rarely saw my dad because he worked out of state. My brothers look Asian enough when they’re with my mom or me, so for the most part, I looked like I fit in with my family.
In 8th grade, I went to Washington DC with my concert band. After our performance I met my dad in the crowd, hugged him, and we briefly discussed our plans for the next day. When I returned to my friends though, I was met with the confused and questioning faces of my friends. One of them bravely stepped forward after a couple of moments.
“Melissa, who was that man you were just hugging?” she asked gesturing toward where I had just been standing with my dad.
I looked over in confusion before turning back to her. “My dad?” I said. My friends breathed out a sigh and relaxed. “What?” I asked. “You just thought I was in the habit of hugging strange white men?”
To my friends all they saw was a young, Chinese girl hugging an strange white man, but to me I was hugging my dad just like I had been doing for years. He was my family even if we didn’t look like it.
Growing up I didn’t really like answering everyone’s annoying questions after they found out, which were always the same, so I avoided the topic for a long time.
“Do you remember anything?” I didn’t.
“Why do you think your real parents gave you up?” My real parents are the ones who adopted me.
“Do you have any siblings?” Yes, I have three brothers. “But do you have any real siblings?” My brothers are my real siblings.
Or my personal favorite: “But you look just like your mom. Are you sure you’re not related?” Yeah, we really don’t, but yes, I’m pretty sure we’re not related. “Well, you could be. You never know.” There are over 1 billion people in China, and she’s from Taiwan. I’m pretty confident.
One of the earliest lessons I learned was you don’t have to look like the same to be apart of a family, but at the same time it’s hard to separate someone from certain expectations based on their appearance.
I grew up speaking English, not Chinese because my family spoke English. I’m a good student because my parents want all of their children to succeed in school, not because I’m Chinese. I grew up in a biracial household, but no one would ever know that just by looking at me. They say people are a product of their environment. It’s true. I just happen not to look like mine.