Lies my (white) parents told me


Michelle’s October blog post, “Lies my (Asian) parents told me,” was the inspiration for this one – with an AK twist.

Being adopted by white folks means our parents likely told us lies, not to get us to do their bidding, but to protect us from certain ugly adult truths.

Under this hypothesis, I took a small, informal survey of my friends. I asked them about any lies, fibs, half-truths and zany made-up stuff our adoptive parents told us to: 1) try to explain why we looked different from them (and everyone else); 2) try to explain what it meant to be adopted from Korea; 3) try to explain our Korean heritage to us; or 4) try and protect us from other people’s stupidity.

My survey returned only one result.

Does this mean our European-blend parents just don’t lie? Or does it reflect a sad yet funny reality that it’s hard to lie about something so hugely unfamiliar, like Korea or race? Or did our parents successfully conceal the lies from us all these years (as in scenario #4 above)?

I suspect it’s a mix of all of the above.

The one friend who did turn in a lying adoptive parent, coincidentally (or not), was told a lie that was identical in theme to the one my parents told me.

Here’s what happens when white people try to explain race to their adopted Korean children:

Kim’s mom told her: “God kept me baking in the oven just the right time so that my skin wasn’t too dark or too light.”

My mom (and dad) told me: “You’re special. You have a built-in tan.”

We’ve both been scarred for life.

For years, I ran around telling everyone on the playground how cool I was because I had a built-in tan. Only because everyone else was white – I received pats on the head from amused adults and “whatever” eye-rolls from playmates – was I spared from earning the title of “The One Who Thought She Had a Built-In Tan” in my high school yearbook.

And I’m convinced that my friend Kim grew up asking for that “just right” turkey meat every Thanksgiving.

So maybe it’s better that our adoptive parents didn’t tell us too many lies.

However, I’m still curious to hear if there are more tall tales to be told. (I have a sneaking suspicion that my friends are just lying to me so I won’t blog about them. I’m on to all of you.)

I challenge any AK readers to ask your folks about their lying tendencies when you are home for the holidays and report back here. It’s perfect holiday family talk for the black sheep in all of us.

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