Tag Archives: korean

Another Not-Adopted Tale

While we were being admitted to the hospital ward, a nurse came in to ask me questions about Violet’s health history. The first question out of her mouth?

“I assume she’s adopted.”

No. No, she’s not.

The nurse was looking at chart information that included Violet’s extremely Asian last name. If she was adopted, she would probably have an American last name, no? I know I was throwing her off because I was a white woman standing with an Asian-looking baby, but the last name was there. In fact, I’m pretty sure MY name was also on the paperwork. I remember them taking my name at the ER triage. Our last name’s are the same. In fact, I took that very Asian last name to avoid this sort of confusion.

I explained that Violet is my biological daughter.

“Oh wow! She looks like she’s completely Asian.”

Um, ok. Thanks for your input. It would be fine if Violet did look 100% Asian, but she really doesn’t. For starters, she has brown hair. This was the first time anyone has ever told me that Violet didn’t look enough like me to pass for my biological daughter, and though this has happened with Rose a few times and once with Lily, I was really surprised. It’s hard to imagine that people think your baby didn’t come out of your body when you are still nursing her.

“Well, this will make the medical questions easier because you’ll know all the answers.”

Now that I can handle. I could see why medically it would be important to know if my daughter was adopted, but we probably should have gone straight to the questions about birth without voicing assumptions about my kid. If she was adopted and I didn’t know the answers, I’d tell you.

Seriously, we have the same Asian last name and I believe I’d already told someone she was still being breastfed. It’s pretty obvious that I married an Asian, took his last name and then had half Asian children.

Now I’m wondering how often people make that assumption while we are in public and are too polite to say anything.



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That Time I Paid a Specialist to Tell Me My Child is Asian

Violet was really cross-eyed when she was born, but that’s not uncommon. I had thought that the problem had corrected itself, but a couple months ago it seemed to come back. She looked slightly cross-eyed to me most of the time. At a check-up, her pediatrician saw the crossing and referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

I was terrified we’d walk out of that appointment with a baby wearing glasses. As adorable as baby glasses are, I really didn’t want to deal with fighting her to keep the glasses on.

Luckily, my fear didn’t become a reality.

Our ophthalmologist happens to be of Korean descent, just like my husband. After he examined Violet, he pulled a picture of his own daughter out of a nearby drawer and said Violet AND his daughter have pseudoesotropia, which basically means pseudo-cross-eyed. They look cross-eyed, but they aren’t cross-eyed at all. It’s a common physical trait in Asian kids. It’s my understanding that what happens is the epicanthal fold (what makes an eye look Asian) can obscure the view of the eye and make it appear like it’s crossing when it is not.

I essentially took my child to a specialist to have her diagnosed as Asian.

When I reported the doctor’s findings to my husband, the son of Korean immigrants, he laughed and said “YOU should have known that!” as a joke. Really, he’s the one who should have known this and warned me! But he didn’t. He’s completely oblivious to most of the things I need to know as the white mother of three Asian kids. As a result, white girl me took my daughter to a specialist to get her diagnosed as having Asian eyes. “Why yes, ma’am, your Korean daughter DOES have an epicanthal fold! Good job noticing it!”

What’s sad is this is not the first time I’ve worried about a common Asian trait. When Rose was a baby, I was scared about what appeared to be a vicious bruise on her lower back. It turned out to be a Mongolian spot, which 90% of Asian children have. My husband was oblivious to this too.

And these are the things you never consider when you become the mother of biracial children. You might just take your child to the doctor to have them diagnosed as being a member of that other race. In my defense, the source I linked to says pseudoesotropia is one of the leading reasons parents take their infants to ophthalmologists! So, I’m not the only idiot running to the doctor to have their kid diagnosed as Asian.

(I’m aware pseudoesotropia is not limited to Asians and does not equal Asian, but the way it was explained to me just made me laugh at myself.)


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Cibu International Petition

Please check out my friend’s petition for Cibu International to change the names of its so-called Asian-inspired hair products. My friend has been in talks with Cibu to change some of its product names, which include “Miso Knotty Detangler” (“Me so naughty”), “Geishalicious Shampoo” and “Dry Kwon Do Dry Shampoo”, among others.

After contact from my friend, Cibu said it may change “Geishalicious”, but denies any play on words with the name “Miso Knotty” despite having wrapping paper that says “Miso Knotty, Miso Nice”. In my opinion, “Miso Knotty” is the most offensive name in the line. It uses racist stereotypes of how Asians speak English to allude to Asian prostitution. Please check out what my friend has to say about it in the petition as she is far more eloquent than I am on the topic.

While I think companies should be allowed to name their products whatever they want, these names really cross a line of decency. There are plenty of appropriate ways to give a product a witty name or even an ethnic name, but that did not happen here. I hope if enough voices come forward Cibu will reconsider some of its product names.


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100 Days

In Korean culture, turning 100 days old is pretty freaking exciting and it’s celebrated like a birthday. One hundred days even has its own capitalized celebration word, “Baek-Il”. Fancy.

Lily's 100 Day Celebration: Damn, we look young!

The tradition comes from the days when the infant mortality rate in Korea was high. People did not introduce their new babies to their families or take the babies out in public until they were 100 days old. If the baby made it that far, there was a celebration. The parents of the new baby are supposed to give rice cakes to 100 people to bring good luck to their child.

Of course, now the infant mortality rate is much lower. Violet has been going out in public pretty much since I gave birth to her. And I don’t know exactly a) what a rice cake is or b) how to make one. Even if I did know that, I certainly don’t know 100 local people to give cakes.

But that doesn’t matter. We are keeping Korean culture in our halfies’ lives by celebrating Korean milestones often by bastardizing them with American cultural stuff. When each of our kids celebrated 100 days, we bought a birthday cake and sang “Happy 100 Day to You”, then blew out candles that said 100.

Rose's 100 Day.

It’s totally traditional and stuff. I know it must be because my Korean immigrant in-laws BOUGHT the first cake and candles. Thus, I’m sure this is how Koreans have been celebrating Baek-Il for hundreds of years.

Any excuse to eat cake, right?

This past weekend, we took that excuse to eat cake when Violet’s grandparents came to see her for the first time just a few days short of her 100th day. Today is the official 100th day for Violet!

Violet turns 100 Days Old.

Luckily there’s leftover cake from our premature celebration. I’d hate to let her real Baek-Il pass without my pigging out on cake. Because that’s totally the point. Or something.

Anyway, here’s hoping for a lucky day.


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