“The Word Family”

Kaitlin - Pleasant Hill, Iowa
Entered on September 17, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family, question, race
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“Oh are you out shopping with your grandparents today little girl?” the young sales lady asked. I stared at her with my five year old eyes in awe. Clearly, I was with my parents, but me being only five, it did not hit me that it really was not that obvious at all. A five year old African-American girl walking around with an older Caucasian couple is not what people are used to seeing as a family, but it is my family.

My family consists of my brother, mother, father, and me. Unlike most families, my parents are both Caucasian, while my brother is full African-American and I am half African-American. When I was younger, there was no question about why my parents were a different color from me. As I got older, I questioned this more, but at the same time I understood more. Now I understand why we can get the funny stares. Now I understand when we go out to eat waiters think we are two separate couples. Now I understand why my brother is darker than me. Now I also understand why both of my parents are white. I was adopted when I was only two months old.

Some questions, though, I feel will never be answered. I always question why my birth mother had to give me up or why she was pregnant in the first place. Being adopted does make life different. I know if my brother and I get upset, we ask ourselves why we had to be adopted or why did our parents give us up. When I feel this way, I always think of the quote: “A Birthmother puts the needs of her child above the wants of her heart.” In the end, I realize I am luckier than I know because I have a family that still cares for me and loves me.

People ask me why I do not talk the way black people talk or dress the way black people dress. I simply tell them it is not the lifestyle I choose. I do not believe I was a mistake or that being adopted forms who I really am down deep. My personality, friends, and the environment around me formed what kind of person I am rather than the fact I live with Caucasian parents. Even though there are many questions I have unanswered, being adopted makes me value life to a greater extent –way greater than any average person.

I believe as diversity in families increases, the strength of the word family grows with it. I myself cannot, and will not, see anyone as a race; rather, I see each person as human beings. Because of the family I have, I feel nothing can bring us closer than the fact of how different we really are. The experiences people have in life are what help them grow and understand the true meaning of family.