Mama Writer

“Yes, she’s mine. She looks like her daddy.”

I wasn’t familiar with the incredibly problematic term of “passing” until I had my son.

He’s 50% his daddy’s boy, but he has my coloring. When we go out together, I’m sure he is generally expected to be Caucasian, despite having his Korean daddy’s eyes, mouth, ears, stubbornness, etc. My son looks white.

Husband had some discomfort with this “white son of a Korean guy” feeling. He told me he felt like people weren’t sure he was Noah’s father. The fact that Noah calls Husband “Appa,” the Korean word for daddy, didn’t help.

When we met new people, we had to explain that Husband is Noah’s father. It wasn’t always assumed- which could be difficult for Husband and confusing for Noah.

I had it easy, though. Noah looked like my son in all of the stereotypical white kid of a white lady ways.

Then, I had my daughter, Josie.

She was born with a thick head of jet black hair that stood straight up. Her perfect skin is two shades lighter than Husband’s and about four shades darker than mine (my color going all the way past porcelain to “transparent”).  

My daughter has a few of my features, but her lovely coloring meant Husband and I switched places. Now, I’m dealing with the “white mom of the Asian girl” idea.

And, apparently, people just can’t even.

A woman at the grocery store approached in order to ooh and aah over my beautiful baby. Josie sat smiling in the grocery cart while the woman asked if I would mind giving her some details about how I “got” my daughter. Her own daughter was also interested in adopting from Asia, and she wanted some tips.


At Discovery Place Kids, while I struggled to hold on to an ecstatic one-year-old girl who was trying to go for a swim in the water table, a woman approached me and tried to bond over adoption. Apparently, she “also” had adopted a child, though not from Asia.

When I told the woman that Josie wasn’t adopted, she grew flustered, apologized, and pointed at my sister-in-law (also Korean) to ask, “Oh, so she’s hers?”

Is it so hard to believe, people? I mean, I know I’m pale, but come on. We all had to learn about the pea plants and genetics in high school, right?

Ironically, on the same trip, a little boy at the booth next to ours in the cafeteria stood up and labeled my family. Husband and his sister were “the mommy and the daddy,” the kids were “their babies,” and I was “the grandma.”

Lucky he was a minor.

I’ve been very nice, so far, but it’s getting harder. The last couple of times we’ve run into this problem, my kids were present to hear these ignorant assumptions. I do not need anyone asking if my daughter is adopted in front of my daughter.

She will have plenty of confusion about her biracial identity as she grows up in this crazy world (we’re trying to prepare for it). She doesn’t need additional confusion.

Last time, I was in the checkout line, when a man in a Harley Davidson jacket smiled at my daughter beside me. She smiled back, and the man looked at me, bent his head meaningfully in my daughter’s direction, and asked, “China?”

I laughed- and the flood gates opened.

“Nope- Charlotte, North Carolina. Presbyterian Hospital. 6 days late even though I was already 3 centimeters dilated when she was 8 months along. Had her with no anesthesia and minimal tearing, thank God. She was 7 pounds, 15 ounces, 20 inches long. She looks like her daddy- who is not Chinese.”

The poor guy. The line was pretty long, and we had to wait together for a while.

But I’m totally going to do the exact same thing the next time someone asks me.

If they’re going to walk in front of my daughter and hint at her being adopted, I’m going to speak up in front of my daughter about how she did a good job not tearing mama on her way out of my baby-making place.

At least she’ll never have to doubt where she came from. 

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