Adoption and Racial Identity

My Assimilated Identity

My parents felt the best way to help me and my adopted brother, who is also Korean, assimilate into American culture was for them to not dwell on our foreignness.

They weren't trying to pretend we weren't adopted; they just never discussed our identities as Asians. To them, I was their daughter -- the child of an Italian engineer and his German-American wife. Korea was simply the place where I was born, and my parents naively believed that being an Asian in America wasn't any different than coming from another faraway place like Oslo or Vienna.

Even though prejudice didn't exist in our home, it was unfair of my parents not to prepare me for the small-mindedness of others. In retrospect, I think they owed me some information about my Korean heritage so that when I was faced with racism, I would have a firm, positive feeling about being Asian. On the other hand, it is also easy to understand why they felt uncomfortable about supplying me with a Korean identity. First-generation Americans of various races have immersed their biological children in American culture at the expense of their own ethnicities -- but these parents had the luxury of sharing the same eyes, hair, and genes as their children.

Parents Are Talking

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