i, Lulu, San Antonio, TX. I was 52 when I confirmed what I had long dodged: I was adopted — more like appropriated — at birth. Back then and in my part of the world (Texas), those things happened. My adoptive parents are on my birth certificate as the birth parents. Whatya gonna do, right? […]
Kaller, Portland, OR. Native American grandfather, Quaker grandmother, their child was my mother. Black stepfather, biracial brother, adopted Latina child, all Chinese grade school, segregation, race riots, the battle for Civil Rights…who are “my people?”
Daniel Knoll, Saint Louis, MO. Just some ruminations on the issue, as a Local Missourian, and past resident of the town NEXT to Ferguson MO..white, adopted child of full Native American(Cherokee) mother and German-American father…
Melanie Douglas, Peyton, CO. I have transracial adopted kids. They have better hair than I do, they have better skin than I do, it is really something that they got everything I could ever want for them outside of my gene pool, and all I ever want is to be in their gene pool. I […]
Andee Bateman, Noblesville, IN. As an adoptee with flaming red hair, I was asked this question frequently. I found out at 47 that I am not – my biological relatives are from Wales and Norway. In the meantime, I wore the ‘red-headed-step-child’ moniker like a badge. I was loud, round, sassy and nothing like my […]
Heather Ann Lindstrom Buffalo, NY My beautiful son was born to two very different parents. Me, of Swedish and Irish heritage,and his father of Samoan and Chinese heritage. When I would take my son out as a baby, it felt like everyone I met assumed he was adopted and asked “How long have you had […]
Amanda McClendon, Houston, TX. For starters, I’m Korean, so no, no Chinese for me beyond “ni hao” and “xie xie”, which I learned from TV travel shows. Secondly, I was adopted as a baby by parents I like to refer to as American Euro-mutts–English, Irish, German, French, and a touch of Choctaw, and that’s just […]
Kristi Boehm, Spring, TX. Every year on my birthday I give thanks to the woman who loved me enough to give me up for adoption. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother and father, and my family life was nothing but ordinary. As an aging adult, with no idea of whether I’m Swedish, German, […]
Ursula, Oklahoma City, OK. I did not get white privilege until we adopted. I am so sorry. This story terrifies me.
WilmaS, Seattle, WA. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked if my sons were adopted…It’s happened a lot. A complete stranger approaches my family, usually in a grocery store or some other public location, and compliments me on my family. “Your sons are so handsome,” the person will say, and by […]
Alicia Barnes, Starkville, MS. Shared race is not a qualifier of being a mother to a child. Some of us birth kids who don’t look like us, and it’s hurtful for people to question our status. When I saw people trying to figure out if a white mother with brown daughters had adopted them, I […]
Phyllis Kedl, Little Canada, MN. Ours is a multi-ethnic family. We have fourteen grandkids, only five of whom are ethnically related to us. The rest? Two African American, three Hispanic and four Chinese. We are anything but vanilla, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Your project, Michele, may offer our country’s first — […]
Andrew, Tacoma, WA. We adopted our son when he was two weeks old. He’s seven now. My naivete about race has only gotten clearer and clearer these last 7 years.
Barney Rush, Chevy Chase, MD. Ours is an adopted family: my wife and I have two daughters, both of whom are Caucasian, as we are. We adopted them through agencies, the older when we lived in New York; the younger when we lived in Florida. After living six years in Europe, we returned to the […]
Mary Carroll, Columbia, SC. I am biracial and adopted into a white family. Growing up in a very southern affluent area, people were always asking me if I was paid well to look after the child and if I would work for them. When I would tell them that the child was my sister, generally […]
Kayla Eckhoff, Denver, CO. I was just a year old when I was adopted, I was born in India and grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. For the most part I had a normal childhood, especially growing up in an all white community. Went to school, made friends, played school sports. Though […]
Anonymous, Des Moiones, IA. Drake University This is what my mom was told in 1954 when social services came into her home and removed her and all of her siblings from her mom. At that time they were truly poor and were having a hard time finding enough food to eat. Her mother had a […]
Robert Zeboski, Autin, TX. I am born from a Japanese father and an Irish German mother. I was adopted by my Polish step dad years later. All my life, the white kids would tease me by saying things as “Go back to your home land,” or other racially tinged words. The Asian kids would dismiss […]
Daniel Knoll, Saint Louis, MO. These may or may not represent how I feel about race,,,I am in Missouri, and grew up in the town right next to Ferguson..i am a white guy, but the adopted son of a Native American (full Cherokee) mother, and German -American father…not to minimize the legitimacy of the real […]
Bonnie Jerome-D’Emilia, Haddonfield, NJ. These are my three children. We had never discussed the derogatory use of the word yellow to connote Asian, until we were forced to. My daughter was shocked.
Kira Henstenburg, Washington, DC. Mixed race Russian-Kazakh. Adopted. I’m not considered “asian enough” to be invited to anime conventions. I’m not comfortable taking a strong stance on race in class discussions because I’m considered white. I’m told I “look a lot like my father.” If I say I was born in Russia, people assume my […]
Stewart Ketcham, South Royalton, VT. Out of the mouth of my five year old adopted African America son. I am white. We were eating chicken and my skin was crispier. Relief at the simplicity of innocence!
Aubrie B., Moscow, ID. I am an 18 year old adopted Chinese girl. For years, I’ve endured the disgusted looks of onlookers whenever I go out in public with my adoptive father in the most harmless places; the grocery store or a restaurant. Even when my adoptive mother is there, many still glare at me. […]
Lauren Maldonado, Athens, GA. I’m white, I know that. But, I have no idea what race I am. I can’t include myself in a certain group. I cannot sympathize with a certain group of people and I cannot judge a group of people because I might be the same race as they are. I’m in […]
Riley Redman, Pittsburgh, PA.
Antonio “Tono” Cruz Sablan, Tacoma, WA. Immediately when I was born in 1996, I was adopted by two very loving individuals. My parents, Antonio “Tony” and Brenda Sablan, have provided me with years of unconditional love; the Chamorro community, however, was not always the same. My father is a Chamorro, native to the island of […]
Erin Morris, Tempe, AZ. My husband and I have two sons adopted from S. Korea. When people feel compelled to mention our race difference or the obvious fact that our children are adopted, it is often along the lines of what “good people” we are, or how “lucky” our children are to have been adopted […]
Tanya, Manakin Sabot, VA. My (adopted) son is biracial, his bio-father is unknown. I will never be able to connect him with his biological African American family. There is a void that I will never be able to fill for him . This breaks my heart as his mama.
Rick Kraske Las Vegas, NV We adopted our son Joshua as an infant. His mom, also white and I, later divorced. He is now 12 and his understanding of race in America is now growing at a rapid pace as he is reminded of the manner in which he is treated with us and away […]
Jack Montgomery, Washington, DC. My husband and I got married and adopted three beautiful children on the same day last summer. Happy times! I have learned more since these kids have arrived than I ever new possible. A same-sex parent family with trans racial kids draws a lot of attention both in the big city […]
Susan Kosior, Fredericksburg, VA.
Amy Hueitt Gastonia, NC I am black and white. My children are black and white! Genetics play an important role in how we appear. My son looks Mexican because his dad was Mexican! My daughter looks Mexican white because her dad was white! God truly has a sense of humor and He makes no mistakes, […]
Karen Skillin Rojas San Francisco, CA Adopted from Korea at 4 1/2 months old, I was raised in an entirely Caucasian family and community until I went to college. I often struggle with not identifying with my Asian exterior (yellow), which is how the world around me sees me. I find I identify so much […]
Haley B Grand Rapids, MI My parents are adopted. I am a mutt. Both of my parents are darker complected with strong features that I wish I would have inherited as I am pale, blonde and blue eyed; so I get labeled “white.” When I look at the world around me, I see the variety […]
Judy Goffena Boogman Billings, MT When I was young there was a girl adopted possibly by a couple in my small hometown in Montana. She was Native American and her “parents” were not. Matter of fact the whole town was not. She seemed angry and out of place. One day I was waiting on the […]
Suzanne Strathman Alma, MO How many times have I been asked if Marquita is my “real daughter”. My thought is “She looks pretty real to me.”. Marquita is African American and we are white. We adopted her when she was 4 years old.
Nancy Rawn Storrs, CT I have been so proud of my beautiful boy for all of his 20 years. He struggled with so many high school identity issues but it has been especially painful to watch him struggle with the big question of “Who am I?” in this white community and white family. He has […]
Naghmeh Moshtael Portland, OR These are my daughter’s words. We live in a world of different race, culture and heritage. My husband in African American, born in Seattle and raised in Compton, CA. I am originally from Iran, raised in Cameroon (Central Africa) and now living in the US. My daughter is adopted from Ethiopia. […]
Brittany Barnes Reno, NV I am adopted. I was born in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, now known as Western New Guinea. I don’t really tell people where I was born, because I don’t find it necessary in conversations and it never really comes up. People look at me and automatically assume that I am African-American and […]
Melissa Holland, MI I was adopted at three days old and know nothing of my biological heritage. I enjoy feeling as if I’m a mixture of many different ethnicities.
Rebekah Day Vinita, OK As the only brown complected person in my large family, I stand out against the pale white. I am constantly asked if I am adopted, or a “half-sister” in relation to my siblings. I am a woman of mixed heritage of various European and Native American blood, along with the rest […]
Sheena Biggerstaff Atlanta, GA I get this statement/question combo all the time. It’s amazing how many different races I’ve been grouped into by people trying to find an answer. The conversation always ends the same. Sorry, I don’t know, I was adopted.
Suzanne Koch Sunnyvale, CA First and foremost, I’m a mom. Being a mom to a child who doesn’t look the rest of our family is both the simplest thing in the world and the most complicated. Falling in love with my son, who is adopted and has brown skin, was as straight-forward as any Mama/Baby […]
Shoshi Shaw Denver, CO In middle school I saw nothing wrong with being honest about my past so anyone who asked I would tell, I’m adopted. One day in math, I was correcting a classmates work on the whiteboard and on my way back to my seat, I heard the boy say under his breath […]
Gaby Segalla Washington, DC Most people see me and assume I’m Chinese. As an adopted Asian girl most people think “Oh that girl is probably Chinese.” I don’t take offense to that mostly because I have become used to being asked I’m Chinese. I’ve gotten used to people asking me where I am from and […]
Anna Catlin Baker Seattle, WA I was adopted when I was 1 year(s) old from Southeastern China by a single Caucasian woman. I found out later in life that my birthparents are actually Vietnamese. I was raised “white”, American, but I look Asian. When I go out I feel that people expect certain things of […]
Sharee Meeks Laidlaw Murray, UT Our family is a mix of many races. Some of the members are adopted but I forget which ones.
Jonny Cecka Richmond, VA I have always had progressive attitudes about equality and so-called “race,” but visiting the Lincoln Memorial with my adopted 13-year-old son, Ace, was profoundly moving and made me understand the sacrifices of Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless others in a deep, personal way.
Melanie Randolph Longview, WA I really knew nothing about my heritage until I was 44 and chose to research my birth family. It’s weird to know nothing at all in a world that is so hung up on where they come from. I look so generic. Brown hair, brown eyes, average height. I assumed Italian […]
Terry Savage Kailua, HI This was my standard response when “insignificant others” inquired about our then very young adopted son’s origins.
Tara Conforto Sharon, MA I was adopted when I was less than 3 months old and raised in a non-diverse area of NJ. People have always made assumptions about me based on my Asian appearance, such as saying that I’m so respectful because Asian children are taught to respect their elders, asking me for Asian […]
Diana Gonzalez Franklin Square, NY I am an adopted person. I’ve been searching for my past all my life. I’m 60 now. One of my adopted parents was Austrian and one was Italian. I was raised to think of myself as Italian. In the early 1970’s I searched and found out I was born in […]
Anonymous. Omaha, NE “Excuse me, what’s your nationality?” “I’m from the U.S.” “No,” he chuckled, “like, where are you originally from?” “I was born and raised in the U.S.” “You know what I mean!” “You’re talking about ethnicity…” I offered. “Yeah, whatever. Like, where are you really from?” “I’m Chinese.” “That’s what I thought!” I […]
Alessa Abruzzo Philadelphia, PA Biologically I’m Korean. Ethnically I’m Irish-German-Italian. I was adopted at 4.5 months old, at which point I flew from South Korea to the USA and into the loving arms of my parents who happen to be white. To put it plainly, I was raised by white people – My entire immediate […]
Tiffanie Luckett Greenbelt, MD I was adopted at nine months of age. My parents are black. My biological parents were Caucasian and black. My parents expected the world to see me as black (or “other than white”), and raised me accordingly. I was raised to see myself as black, and I find it unsettling/strange/uncomfortable when […]
Adam Conner Washington, DC My sister and I are both adopted from South Korea. Our parents are white. One of my memories from childhood is being at the grocery store and constantly having people ask my mom “Are they yours?” point to my sister and me. I remember one time someone then adding “Are you […]
Willie McBride Long Beach, CA I was born in Taiwan to a Chinese mother and African American father. I was orphaned an American serviceman and his wife adopted me; my adopted father just happens to be African American and my mother is Chinese. They also never mentioned that I was adopted and so I grew […]
Barbara Schmidt Metuchen, NJ We are a caucasian couple that adopted our daughter from Southeast Asia. Random people in the supermarket make dumb comments and children have asked where is her real mom. We must carry her adoption paperwork when we travel internationally, since passport control sometimes questions whether she is really our daughter. School […]
Sandra Oldfield, Canada. I’ve gotten used to answering this question about my daughter who is adopted from the US
Stacey Golden Portland, OR I am Euro-American and my husband is African American. When we decided to adopt children, we adopted children that had bio-parents that were the same race as us, thinking, at the time, that then our children would feel more comfortable in a family that would have been like their bio-family. That […]
Teresa Volcheck West Des Moines , IA I am a Korean adoptee, raised in central Nebraska. I do not have an accent. I had a Swedish last name growing up and now have a Czech last name. I often get asked, where are you from? I say, “Nebraska”. Then I get, “Really, where are you […]
Sarah Day Waynesboro , VA I have an adopted child and a biological child. My son looks Hispanic, Arabic, you choose. I fear for him, have seen him pulled out of line at airports for scrutiny I have never faced. Some say he has advantages but I see no evidence of that anywhere. The world, […]
Sally Oakland, CA I am white but I grew up in Alabama where my tan skin and my dark hair and eyes made everyone question my ethnicity and ask my blonde haired blue eyed mother if I was adopted. I’ve been asked “What are you?” all of my life and now that I’m married to […]
Sara Hofmann St. Petersburg, FL I used to work with kids in the foster care system, which required a lot of effort and hours. When new acquaintances asked me what I did for a living, I told them, and after a few more questions I would occasionally get this question or something like it. (I’m […]
Jill Dziko Vashon, WA As the white mother of 4 children of color, I am constantly being asked if they are my kids. When they were very young I learned to say, “These are my children” and that no other explanation was necessary! My kids think it funny that I am the only white one […]
John Mitchell MS As of July 1, our trans-racially adopted twins are one year old. I sometimes forget that they are adopted and not white like me. As my favorite blogger Carlos Whittaker said in a similar dialogue, “I think that’s kinda the point.”
James Meyer Salisbury, CT I was adopted and became an artist, all of my paintings portray white children when my wife asked me why, I realized I never saw anyone that looked like me growing up.
Debbie Justice, Washington, UT. I adopted my son in 1987
Ana Mendelson USA No, I’m not joking. Some other questions I have been asked about my older sister: “Where is she from? Africa?” No, DC. “Is she Jewish?” Well, we adopted her when she was 11, so no. “When did you find out she was adopted?” Um…I guess I just always knew…
Barbara Lewis Madison, AL It has been said that one thing that makes this country great is that any child can grow up to be president. This is not true for my daughters. Because of the “natural-born” clause in our constitution, my daughters, who were born in China but legally adopted into the US by […]
Deb Kruse Tucson, AZ Yes, I am “from” somewhere. Born in Korea – adopted as an infant (3 weeks old to be exact). Yes, most of my family is white. Yes, I grew up on a farm in Iowa and have driven a tractor and a combine. Yes, I’m adopted. Yes I like Asian food […]
Marcus Atlanta, GA Born of African American parents, raised by my African American mother and Irish-German (adopted) father. Big brother to a bi-racial sister and my cousins are white, Asian and Latino.
Gail O’Rourke Brooklyn, NY White Mom + Chinese daughter: Said right in my face, with my 5 year old daughter in my lap. She clutched me, buried her face in my chest and sobbed. I put my arms around her said don’t be disrespectful and walked out of the shop.
Sheree King Johnson City, TN My kids, adopted from China, now ages 14 & 16 not only don’t look like me, but deal with issues I never had to deal with. Although they are very like me in religious beliefs, morals , and character, they look at the world through minority eyes, but have a […]
Joy Schmidt Waxhaw, NC I was born in West Africa and adopted by Caucasian parents. But since my parents are missionaries we also live for most of my childhood in Cameroon. When we moved to the U.S. permanently I was starting 9th grade, and one of the most frustrating things that I am met with […]
Dan Ellerman, Baltimore, MD. I was adopted from S. Korea at the age of 3 by a German/Irish couple. I grew up in a white household and neighborhood and went to predominantly African American schools in Baltimore city. The words I chose were told to me by my family and friends with the best intentions […]
Jennifer Luberecki Hagerstown, MD Being Korean-born and adopted at 3 by Caucasian parents, I grew up with my adopted parents culture (which is Polish and Scottish) and feel thoroughly American. Which is why it feels like a shock, and sometimes a slap in the face, when other people make assumptions about who I am. The […]
Valerie Antkowiak Sacramento, CA
Ernest Fabrizio Garcia New Fairfield, CT Neither of us are African-American, but our children are. There seems to be a conception that doing black hair well is partially genetic.
Karen Sulmonetti Falls Church, VA My son was born in Guatemala and is very brown with beautiful dark brown, circle eyes and dark brown hair. As an adopted child, he has grown up with white parents and enjoys life in America. Even though we educate him on his birth country, he is all-American because of […]
Danelle Hoffer Cabot, AR Michele, thank you for this amazing project! I am the incredibly proud white mother of a 16 year old mixed race daughter who is accomplished, bright and has the warmest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. My husband is white and we married when she was 4. He adopted our daughter […]
Mari Pollack Los Angeles, CA Joy was adopted at the age of 11 from an abusive home in Korea into a loving family in California. Now a rebellious alcoholic in her 20s, she is homesick for a home that doesn’t want her and unable to feel truly a part of her adoptive family. She returns […]
Mary K. Coseo NY I am a Korean adoptee and was raised in the United States. I was reunited with my Korean birth family about 12 years ago. Although I am the same race as other Koreans and my birth family, what I really need to transcend the barriers is the ability to speak the […]
Angela Tucker Seattle, WA African American adult adoptee born in the South, raised by Caucasian parents in the pacific Northwest.
Carol Sacks, Santa Barbara, CA. My nine-year-old daughter, who is adopted from China, is reading a biography of Muhammad Ali for a book club project. Last night, she asked me what the word r-a-c-i-s-m meant. Her question, this birther nonsense, are reminders that race continues to be part of our national conversation.
Corrie Bugby Murray, UT I am a Caucasian woman who adopted three African American sons. I love them. I cherish everything about them. And I hate it when people assume that they aren’t my children. Like the woman who asked me, “Don’t you think you’d love a biological child more?” ?! I have come to […]
Anonymous Kennewick, WA Being Latina, with a white name, but in knowledge of my Latino surname. I try to be supportive of my friends with their biracial and transracial adoptions, but it is so hard. I have suffered and struggled so much with my identity. People have such good intentions, but the children suffer. Then, […]
Kent & Laurie Runge Morris, MN
Brenna Angel Lexington, KY Question I was asked as a child by kids in my apartment building. My mom (white) and dad (Mexican) are divorced so the kids didn’t know why my mom would be raising a little brown-skinned girl.
Steve Pederson Submitted via Twitter: @stevped