Friday, September 07, 2007

That Pesky Caucasian Box

Some of you familiar with THE STORY will know that recently (or anytime before September 10th) I will have had a birthday.

Those of you wondering what I'm talking about, well, just click on the label. Otherwise, in short version, I have no idea exactly when, where, or to whom (who? Help me out here, Mocha Momma and Arkansas Songbird) I was born.Wow. Looking perplexed there, aren't I?

What makes this an interesting fact is that I'm faced with THE BOX. Having a child in school means filling out lots of forms each year, and sometimes, these forms want to know something about the parents. The forms ask about job information, contact information, and some? Well, some ask about race. And those aren't the ONLY forms.

I have a luxury few people enjoy. I will never be a racist.

I have always checked the same box: Caucasian. But am I? I don't know. Unless genetic testing reaches a point beyond that of knowing our ethnic ancestry, I may never know.Do you know your ethnic ancestry? You probably do.

I look at the box and wonder if I'm a traitor to my race. That's how the box affects me.

Not knowing my birthparents is bizarre...because I think I'm a pretty good person. I actually like hanging out with me. Could people related to me be so awful? I know, I know...the whole abandonment thing - but, we ARE related...could it have been just some horrible mistake of youth? Lord knows I've made a few.

I see the box. I check Caucasian.

I'll let you decide.


mark said...

Those boxes are silly to begin with. They only serve to divide us, whereas we're all people, and what difference does our ethnic background make?

Willowtree said...

You look kinda Chinese to me, or maybe Jamaican, I always get them confused.

lisa's chaos said...

I often don't check those boxes, you don't have to. I hadn't heard your story before, hadn't been reading you long enough I guess, but I'm caught up now. What an amazing ride you've had!

Check the box that says "human" :)

Desert Songbird said...

I can only imagine your confusion and bewilderment. Those of us who refuse to check those boxes do so because we can; you are faced with the unknown. I cannot begin to fathom how that feels. In my opinion there really aren't valid reasons to check that damn box unless it involves financial aid for college. Then I fully admit to my Asian ethnicity! Of course, I'm not fully Asian; I'm Eurasian, so how the hell does one 'fess up to that when you're only allowed to check one box? And what DO children of mixed races do about that stupid box? Some say if one parent is black, then the child is black. But think about the Tiger Woods-like kids of the world - is the kid allowed to check Asian, African-American, AND Native American all at the same time? I think "other" is such a stupid term, so why ask anyway?

(BTW - you were correct; the correct way to phrase that would be "to whom" you were born. Use "whom" when it is the direct object, "who" when it is the subject.)

Oh, and another theory - perhaps you're born of a Greek mother who was pregnant by someone NOT of Greek origin, so she gave you up so as not to disappoint her family. I could see some Greek in you...

Pamela said...

from your previous post, I would guess you are an E.T. (Extraverted Thinker)

Instead of abandoned...perhaps you were a gift. I'm sure your parents thought so.

Beccy said...

I agree that there's really no need for those boxes, we are all people and should be categorised but I can't imagine how it feels not to know where you come from, as Pamela says, you were a gift to your parents.

M@ said...


Don't tell me you're an exotic MILF!? :)

Mugsy said...

There is always the possibility you're Hispanic. Take this test to be sure.

Mugsy said...

Maybe this is more in the line of what you're looking for?

Genetic DNA Heritage Testing

Julie said...

On a serious note, I agree with Mark and Pamejamela. The boxes don't mean a thing and you were a very special gift to your parents.

On a goofy kind of note, just check a different box everytime. If anyone asks, just tell them you are guessing.

At one time there was a segment on our news that told about the DNA heritage testing, we considered doing it just for kicks but never did. Maybe you could try something like that.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly California is supposed to have "biracial" or "mixed race" boxes on all their forms - but they don't. I never know what to do with my kids' forms when you can't check two, so I almost always end up with "decline to state". They're my kids, not boxes! :)

Tiggerlane said...

mark - I need a box for "human" race.

willowtree - are you insinuating anything about my habits? Sheesh.

lisa's chaos - I had no idea that not checking a box was an option. Funny, the anal retentive part of me would REALLY be bothered by not filling a form out completely.

desert songbird - thank you for the insightful comments. I know my daughter is 1/16th American Indian, but she can't check that "box" b/c her grandfather and other ancestors were too proud to apply for roll numbers with the American Indian system. She could probably get some money for college. I like the Greek idea - I do talk loudly and use my hands a lot!

pamela - surprisingly enough, my parents often commented that they thought I was an "alien from outer space." :-)

beccy - now that I'm older, I'm sure my parents feel that way. As a teenager? I know they wanted to give me back at times!

m@ - let the fantasies play out as they may!

mugsy - taking the Hispanic test - well, I guess I can rule that out! I'll look into the other test.

julie - I really might do that - but mostly for kicks. And to see if I'm predisposed by race for any particular disease. Funny, I wonder if I should be tested for Sickle Cell. Sound crazy?

melissa - I'll have to check for that "decline to state" box! I also get business forms that ask two questions: "Is this business woman-owned?" (Yes) and "Is this business minority-owned?" (how would I know?) Maybe I should start checking "yes" on that one, too. Make them prove otherwise!

ChrisB said...

I remember reading your story before, but I have just gone back and read it again.
At one time I did some adoptee counselling and it was never very satisfactory for the person trying to trace their roots as we (social workers) often didn't have the answers they needed.

Anonymous said...

Girl - you are awesome! I gave up a child for adoption when I was young (16) because I KNEW that he deserved a better life than what I could give him at the time. I think about him often - I didn't abandon him though - went through all the proper channels. I hope he received awesome parents just like you did. I read you often, just can't comment using my "real" name.

Karmyn R said...

I agree - where's the box with the word "Human" next to it.

Boxes? We don't need no stinking boxes.

mjd said...

I dislike checking the box. With your lovely dark hair and beautiful brown eyes you could be something other than Caucasian, Maybe someday we will not have to check boxes. But boxes or no boxes, I can understand that you are curious about your heritage

Tiger Lamb Girl said...

You could always go for the 'mixed race' box. Or just leave it EMPTY.

You could definitely be caucasian though. If you see my grandfather who is of Bavarian descent - he's dark haired, brown eyed, and olive skinned. One could easily mistake him for another race.


I usually refuse to check those boxes. Those kinds of questions irk the snot outta me.

wolfbaby said...

i think your beatiful!!!

honetly i would have guessed native american.. you look like some of my family and they have alot of it in them... dark eyed beuaties as my dady says LOL...

i can't imagine how hard it is for you not knowing..

i agree with everyone else though... you don't have to check the boxes and sometimes i don't just because it peeves me that they ask

OneHungMan said...

OneHung needs to see more skin before commenting.

Tiggerlane said...

chrisb - I think a lot of those answer really must come from within. I imagine your job was difficult at times.

anonymous - I completely understand...and I wonder, have you made any attempts to keep in contact with the adoptive parents, in case the child wants to know you in the future?

karmyn - life would be a LOT easier without those boxes! Especially since I'm creeping closer to having to select a different box for "age bracket."

mjd - I AM curious. Curious enough that I might go take one of those DNA tests.

tiger lamb girl - really would like NOT to check a box - but I'm too big of a "completer" for that - it would be like an unanswered test question that would haunt me in my sleep. Then again, maybe I need to buck up and become more defiant!

wolfbaby - thank you! I am getting closer to taking one of those tests, just to find out a bit more.

onehungman - the skin is olive, and tans easily.

dawn said...

That must be difficult. My husbands sister gave up two children when she was young. She is 13 years older than my husband. Just before my oldest daughter (16) was born, my SIL found her daughter who then had a daughter six weeks after our daughter was born; they have grown up together. Then our niece found her brother 7 years ago. We were fortunate to spend time with him and his family on our vacation. He had a son that was 4 weeks older than our daughter and we got to know him just a little before he passed away in April. My SIL and husband later adopted a girl. She had a good home and did not find her birth mother. She is part native, and her mother lived a bad lifestyle of drugs and the ways on the streets of supporting that. She died before my niece could find her. I hope you find you ancestry. I don't envy you at all, it must be tough.

And, Happy Birthday!

Beckie said...

I do know who my parents were and I still don't know what to check because my background is such a mishmash. They should have a mishmash box just for me.

Robin said...

wow...there are so many ramifications to our lineage...I never thought about knowing my birthparents as a luxury, but when I think about your story, it is!

I'm w/Karmyn...

OneHungMan said...

That's not exactly what OneHung had in mind, but thanks for sharing.

Debs said...

I never thought about it before. I am going to making my own box to check and just put Human Race. :D

James Burnett said...

Those boxes are goofy. But your story always fascinates me. I say if you don't know for certain, then check the box of the ethnicity you feel like you most identify with. Or if you feel like you're living the Benneton life, then don't check any box, or check "other" if that's an option. I can't see them forcing the issue.

Regardless, I like the grace with which you've approached this issue over time. Kudos, and happy birthday.

Tiggerlane said...

dawn - strangely enough, I hold out hope that someone is looking for me. Thanks for your story!

beckie - I will lobby for a mishmash box for the BOTH of us.

robin - Yeah, Karmyn had a good point. No more boxes!

onehungman - I should have known by your screen name!

debs - Good idea! Wonder if the census bureau would freak out - then turn me over as a possible terrorist...that would be my luck.

james burnett - I like the "Benneton life" - I used to love their ads as a child. So many of them looked more like me than any of my friends. Thanks for the compliment and good wishes!

Mocha said...

In college I changed which box I checked each semester. It was great being Hispanic and Asian, but being a Native American was my favorite. I did that to make a point.

I think I succeeded.

p.s. and it's "to whom" - you almost had it, girl. ;-)

Tiggerlane said...

mocha - great idea! And I KNEW you would know the correct grammar!

Occidental Girl said...

I can't imagine what it would be like not to know. Of course, with my family it might've been better NOT to know, but I digress.

My step-dad was adopted and for nearly his whole life he didn't know anything about his family or even if his birthdate was correct or made up. He seemed okay with it, but he was quiet and I wonder if it bothered him.

Well, at 58 years old he found out he had four brothers and what happened to him to be an orphan and then adopted. It's a sad story.

But yeah, it's something we take for granted, all those little check boxes that it's assumed we all know.

What does it mean, anyway? We all go back to the same ancestors. Did you see the recent, Bono-edited Vanity Fair? It's all a matter of which line we descended from out of Africa, basically. We are one. Human. That's all that matters.

Tiggerlane said...

occidental girl - wonderful points. And I think it's GREAT that your step-dad found siblings! They say that we have the longest relationships of our lives with our siblings.

I agree - we are all one - I'll have to read that Vanity Fair issue!

Angelina said...

Boy did I come late to this party! I don't have anything to add except that I love these pictures of you.

Isn't there an "other" box? Why can't there be a "don't give a rat's ass" box? Or how about "don't know"?

I can't totally understand being a little affected by the box.

Tiggerlane said...

angelina - I agree - there should be an "other" box. Or an "unknown" box. But I like the "I don't give a rat's ass" box BEST!

MP said...

I'm adopted but I'm such a freaking white girl there really isn't much of a doubt which box to check..the papers say "German"..but it would be interesting to really find out...find out alot of things.
PS..I was thinking Spanish..Italian..Greek, something Mediteranian..which I would think would still be considered the white box, isn't it?
There aren't many people around that are 100% one box or another, at least anymore..