Yeah . . . We Blend




My family’s not normal but let’s be honest . . . neither is yours.


I swear this happened one time — in America to boot.

I was at my hometown mall watching my daughter (a toddler at the time) trip around the foam rubber, indoor playground just outside of the Panda Express.  I hadn’t been a father long but I knew from watching TV that playground chit chat was a thing.  I was ready — or so I thought.

A woman, whom I believe was Chinese, kicked off a conversation.

“Is that your kid?”

“Good opening question” I thought.  “I can do this.”

“Yeah.” I said with a chuckle that simultaneously meant, “isn’t she cute” and “chit chat is easy.”

Her turn.

“She doesn’t look like you.”

I felt like maybe she was unnecessarily stating the obvious but I was not deterred.

Chuckling again I said, “Yeah.  She’s adopted.”

Now this is the moment where a normal person has expectations right?  You expect any number of responses like — “Aww, that is so sweet”  or “Wow, that’s really great” or  “Oh cool, my cousin is adopted.”

But nope.  I got . . .

“Hmm . . . cause you can’t make one?”


I’m just going to pause my blog for a moment to let the awkwardness fully sink in.  Continue when you are able.


I have pondered this moment for more than ten years now and I still don’t know what the right response would have . . . no wait . . . could have been.

“Well, we’ve . . . uh  . . . you know . . . we’ve um, tried . . . but uh . . . I’m sorry have we met because I don’t remember catching your name before you know . . . you started asking me about the working order of my reproductive system . . . . . . . . .  My name is Jerry?”

Honestly I get it.  On two different levels I get it.

Having lived in China since shortly after that moment I’ve learned a lot about (and even come to appreciate) the “unencumbered” nature of Chinese enquiry.  If it’s weird, ask about it.  Why wouldn’t you?

I also realize that she was just culturally unencumbered enough to enquire about the the same thought that goes through everyone’s head when they see us.

We’re not normal.  I get it.

We’re not like the other delightful little mall families whose kids are shrunken versions of themselves (no offense if you are one of those — you’re very cute).  We are two white parents with a Chinese daughter and a black son and fair enough, the first thought that you think when you see us may start with “awww” or “hmm” but it ends you “cause you can’t make one.”

It’s ok if you had that thought . . . and thank you for not saying it out loud.

The first thoughts never define a relationship unless the relationship ends there.  What you’ll discover, no matter how you choose to get to know us, though,  is that we blend.


In fact we blend so much that now, when I see pictures like the one up there with our faces all squished together, I do a double take . . . and I remember that we really don’t look much like our kids . . .  but man we go together.


Look at us.

That’s blended.

I forget though . . . virtually always . . . what is so blatantly obvious to everyone who sees us for the first time.  Hang out with us for a day and you’ll forget too.

My family’s not normal but let’s be honest . . . neither is yours.  I love it that way.

That’s all.

Do you blend?  Your blendedness may look a lot like ours or nothing at all.  Either way, take a minute a brag on your family below.


Know some great blended families — pass it on.



  1. I’ve met you and you do truly blend. Great article

    • Hi Jerry, This isn’t a comment specially about this blog entry … other than, “I enjoyed it like all the rest that I’ve read.” My main purpose for writing is to ask if you ever travel and speak to groups about surviving culturally?

  2. I like your thoughtfulness and I like your bluntness…or your forced into bluntness. We are the mini-me family. The older is me through and through and the younger is his Mom to a tee. But in writing this, I can admit, we at times short change them from…well…being them. We assume they are us to the point we sometimes predetermine their mood, or reaction, or their needs. And, sometimes, they are not us… Maybe we are over-blended. Perhaps watered down. I will think about that more, now.

    But as an a one country, culture lacking, “give me my required personal space”, sideliner – I can add a little to the “cultural” piece too. This one also at the observation of our youngsters. They are children, and they too are blunt. Their school and our area as a whole is culturally blended. Yet, they don’t know it, because they don’t see it. It is an exercise in patience for our 2nd grader to describe a friend we haven’t met. We start with the basics of gender, race, physical characteristics. He stops with gender and then struggles to articulate. It normally derails after a while, to “he’s fast or smart”. Everything else is transparent.

    Maybe when we ask complicated questions with an innocence and directness of a child, or hear them that way, the non-blended can blend.

  3. But the reality is that the blend that adoptive parents are so comfortable with, is not always something that this kids feel comfortable with. When the most personal & private aspect of their lives, that they were adopted, is basically immediately know to all who see them with their (adoptive) parents … it’s hard.

  4. I’ve been following you for some time – thanks for your fun posts. We’ve begun the journey as Grandparents – going on 4 years now. We’ve raised 6 kids, four daughters and two sons, all of them ours, together. We marvel at their uniqueness created only by God. I’m grateful, even with all the bumps and bruises along the way, our kids are friends. Their spouses are friends. And now we have a new generation entering the picture. Thank God for His wisdom as he gives each family what He knows is just right for them. I learned that a long time ago after discouraging miscarriages, then the miraculous blessing of twin daughters, followed by the next four…within 8 years. Who knew? He did, and he chose us to be their parents! What a marvelous thing.

    Thanks for your post. We weren’t (aren’t) normal, either. 🙂

  5. Our family is a blend of adopted twins from Venezuela with older and younger blonde biological kids. When we lived in Venezuela we got some pretty blunt questions as well, since adoption wasn’t as common there. I’ve actually been asked by strangers, in front of the kids when they were little, if I had an affair. It was the only way that they could figure that I’d be pushing around such a blended family in the grocery cart. Now my kids are young adults, and when they have friends who won’t believe they are brothers, they throw that line for a shock effect…”Yeah we’re brothers. Mom had an affair.” Then they get to the adoption story. It’s definitely been a journey that has taught us many lessons.

  6. My family has never “blended” in fact we joke that we should be called the United Colors of Bissell! Our family joke is more who we don’t have then what we do.

  7. A fantastic blog! We loved meeting your family. Your candidness at PFO 2015, Houghton, in many matters on serving Christ abroad as a family, really encouraged us.
    We also want to adopt once we are settled in Taiwan. Yes, it is taking longer to transition than we hoped, but you did hint at that. We have wanted to adopt for years. God blessed us unexpectedly with three born of my womb over six years. One other awaits us in Heaven. Another is waiting for us to find her. We will, in God’s time, know when our family is complete. Love mine so far. Family, if it’s good, is perfect! Yours is definitely beautifully blended!

  8. I love this post! My first thought when I read this was “that is so Chinese!” Their absolute blunt and directness just cracks me up, and often leaves me at a loss for words. I am an American currently living in China as well and just yesterday the building manager for my apartment casually asked me if I was pregnant, and when I said no, she stated her reasoning being that “you are looking a little fat” I promptly got on the scale, and phew, no weight gained, haha! In her defense I was wearing a rather baggy sweater 🙂


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