[] Other


So I’m filling out a form or a survey mindlessly filling a bubble. Everything is going great! Until near the end. You know what I’m talking about. Right after the question of gender is the Race/Ethnicity section. This is where the casual smile gets wiped off my face as I encounter this dilemma.

I’ve always had a problem with this question. You see, I have a complicated history. I look African American. Believe me, I’ve got the hair type to deal with. So maybe that’s the box I should check. But wait a minute, I spent most of my childhood in Asia. I grew up with Asian influences around Asian people. If you saw me at school you might take notice of my obsession with good grades and my academic performance. Asian fits me pretty well. But not so fast: I grew up in an American style home. I speak ‘Perfect English’. On the phone, you couldn’t tell that I’m not White.

So what box should I check?

Being adopted, this has been a very difficult question for me to answer. For most of my life I felt like I was on the outside looking in.

Most of my friends were Caucasian. We had great memories with one another in school but I always had that feeling like they couldn’t relate with me. I had moved halfway across the world several times in my life, experienced things that they could never dream of. While I wanted to talk about the latest news, they were going on about a cat video.

And my African American friends? I can count them all on one hand. TO be honest, I don’t know how to even start relating! I’m just not ‘ghetto’ enough. I can put on the act when I need do but like I said, it’s an act. It’s also hard to enter a friendship when they most likely live next to each other and are in contact day after day.

Now my Asian friends I can relate to the most. I spend most of my young life in Asia. I consider it my birth place (even if I was born in North America). But I also suffer from an extreme sense of perfectionism. I love them to bits but I find myself constantly comparing myself to them. So-and-so got an ‘A’ plus in math, why can’t I get anything higher than a ‘B’?

So yeah, growing up I felt isolated; always on the outside looking in. I didn’t have a definitive circle who could understand where I came from. I was Black but I didn’t speak it. I was White but looked to dark. I was Asian but I didn’t quite make the mark. I just didn’t know where I fit in (still don’t).  It even effected how I viewed my family.

High School: Social Studies Class (random stills of the classroom, here)

For one reason or another I missed the first few days of school. I think I had the flu. Either way, I missed the first days of class. When I came back, I entered the class and introduced myself to the teacher. I sat down at my desk and to my horror, everyone seemed to have some kind of poster. From the presentations, it looked like a family tree/history and ‘Where I’m From’ type of thing.

My stomach dropped through the floor as student after student walked up to the front of the class and presented their poster. This lasted two days. Now normally I would go to the teacher, explain that I had missed a few days and ask for the assignment.

Nope. I hated these assignments. They reminded me about things that I would rather not remember. So I slouched in my seat and just hoped that the teacher wouldn’t notice. Thankfully she didn’t…until the very end, that is.

She looked up from her grade book and narrowed her eyes at me, “You didn’t present,” she stated.

I shook my head. Naturally, she asked to see me after class. She asked why I hadn’t approached her earlier. I said ‘I don’t know’. When she asked if I wanted to make it up and present later…I said ‘no’.

I pleaded with her to not make me do it. I told her I was willing to do extra-credit or stay after school as punishment, anything that wouldn’t involve looking up my family history. Heck, I was willing to take an ‘F’ on the project just to not have to do it. You might be wondering why I would feel that way.

I’m adopted. It was a closed adoption. That means that, at the time, I couldn’t find out anything about my birth parents until I was 18 years old. Not a thing. Not what race they were, not their blood type, not what they liked to eat for breakfast on Sunday mornings.

That meant I didn’t know where I was from. As far as I knew, I didn’t have a family history to talk about.

You might me asking, “But Aplabw! Your adopted family is your family! There’s nothing to worry about! Can’t you just ask them about their family history?”

Yes, I could. But no, at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong! I love my family and they were so loving and caring to me! But we have different histories. My mother is Asian. I’m technically not even if I consider myself one. She has Asian ancestors. I do not. My dad was Caucasian. I’m probably at least half. He has Caucasian ancestors. I probably do…but mostly not. I, as an individual, do not share my adoptive parent’s ancestral line. It would be like doing a report on the Presidents family tree. It’s a great tree but it’s not yours.

So I’ve had to figure out what Race/Ethnicity I am all on my own. And the thing is, I don’t fit nicely into the African American box or the Caucasian box or even the Asian box.

Check_mark.svgPoint is I don’t fit in to any kind of box, label or even ethnicity. I’m more complex than a couple words on a survey could ever dream to describe me. Heck, I’m still figuring out where I fit in!

But you still have to pick one, right? So let’s see…what best describes me, a melting pot of black, white and Asian? What describes where I come from and where I’m going? What fully expresses everything about me in a single word?

I choose Other.

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12 Responses to [] Other

  1. Mom says:

    Awesome! And so honest! Thanks for sharing from the heart, my dear. In the “place where you are” , there might be confusion, tension and loneliness but remember that you will always have a place in my heart and mind! Love you all over!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sarah Abigail says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights! When you share from the heart, it helps your readers like me to gain understanding and grow in sensitivity. Boxes and numbers are handy for computer systems, but cannot describe the wonderful intricacies of people. Check out Hebrews 11:13-16 and remember the one who is not ashamed of you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carleen says:

    This is a beautiful piece of writing, Aplabw! It’s like a little window into your soul. It makes my heart ache for you! It also reminds me of Psalm 139:13. Did you know that you were intricately woven together by your Creator with the finest of threads?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lu Wernz says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about yourself, Aplabw! I particularly liked what you wrote, “I’m more complex than a couple words on a survey could ever dream to describe me..” and not only you. Although I was born in a natural family, I’m glad to be adopted by the Greatest Dad in the whole universe — Father God, and accepted and beloved very dearly by Him through His Son. I believe that if you have allowed Him to adopt you the “second time” around, you will fit in just perfectly in His family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ellen Burleigh says:

    I don’t know you very well but I do know your mom. I see she has raised a thoughtful daughter. Thank you for such an honest sharing. God bless you dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. roseturnley@gmail.com says:

    I’m so glad you shared this! I feel like I know you better.

    Liked by 1 person

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