Yes, I Have a Mixed Baby. Thank You For Noticing.

I wasn’t one of those women that had a love-at-first-sight moment with my infant when she was born. Not all women do. Afterward, I wondered if that was one of those things that women that have babies tell women that don’t have babies in order to make them get excited or look forward to what will inevitably be the most painful moment in their lives.

Though this will sound apathetic, the whole pregnancy I felt like there was this strange alien being inside of me. I couldn’t explain what her pokes and jabs really felt like to people other than to say pokes and jabs but it was more grotesque than that at times leaving me to feel as if she were literally moving my organs over with her arms, and I guess she sort of was. Then when she was born, my first thought upon seeing her was, “wow, she looks super Korean.” I grew up in a decidedly white family. Having a mixed baby, I really had no idea what to expect but in all of my dreams she was never Korean looking. I’m sure that’s because there was no one in my family growing up that was of any Asian descent so when I pictured babies, or when my mind pictured them while I slept, I pictured me and my sisters and cousins: little, slightly chubby in the case of my sisters, with huge heads in the case of my cousins, white children. It wasn’t that I wasn’t drawn to her, I just needed time staring at her little swollen features that were very unlike anything I can remember seeing to foster our budding relationship. Did I mention she was swollen? TV newborns are never swollen. Her little squished face took a little time for the swelling to go down for me to even see what she really looked, two months

The reactions to our little mixed bundle of joy were all over the place. She was cute after the swelling subsided and the wrinkles went away to be sure but to my family she was really Korean and to my husband’s family she was really… Korean. Everyone agreed, she looked Korean, which was humorous because to my family it seemed surprising and to his family it also seemed surprising. Clearly no one had any idea what to expect. It wasn’t even until I said how surprised I was that she was so Korean that my sisters in rather hushed remarks said, “oh good, you thought that too? I didn’t know if that was weird as a first thought or if I could even say that to you.” I didn’t find it strange at all. It wasn’t until a few days later when we put her into a nursery next to 12 other full-Korean babies that we saw how very mixed she truly was. It seemed that next to Korean babies, she looks a bit more foreign and next to foreign babies, she looks more Asian. In pictures with me, people tell me how much she looks like my husband and as she grows, those same people decide she now looks like me. It’s likely not unlike what any other parent goes through as they stare at their child picking the father’s features and the mother’s features out. Does she have my nose? His eyes?March On The Go: Baby

What’s funnier is that Korean people generally seem to be under the impression that mixed babies are all cute and before they’ve even seen her or as they pass us on the street without actually seeing her face I can hear passerby remark, “I’m sure she’s cute.” Of course I think she is, but I never know quite what the appropriate response is to this remark in Korean. “Of course she is,” is either too presumptuous or just downright egotistical while “thank you” seems strange since I know they didn’t actually see her. The whole presumption based on the sole fact that she’s mixed irks me every time I hear it.

“Thank you for presuming my child is good looking because in effect you’re saying my husband and I are good looking because we’re the ones that you’re looking at while saying that since you can’t see our baby under the cover of her stroller,” seems a bit too long and involved.

May on the Go: BabyI absolutely adore my baby. She’s gorgeous and I would say half of the time she looks like me and half of the time she looks like my husband. Or, maybe it just depends on who is holding her when we check to see who she looks more akin to. Not only does she seem to look more Korean or more western depending on who is holding her, but she really does go back and forth which is clear from looking back through pictures. Every day is just that much more exciting with our little mixed bundle of joy wondering who she will look like from one minute to the next and the conversations with strangers on the street are also just that much more intriguing and annoying now too.

Yes, I have a mixed baby. Thank you for noticing.*


*Due to some comments and people not receiving my sarcastic tone in some of the sentences on this post, I just want to say that I don’t actually appreciate people coming up to us and beginning or ending sentences with “She’s mixed so… ” or “… because she’s mixed” and making presumptive statements because of who her parents happen to be. She’s cute because she’s cute and she’s ours because of who we fell in love with.

Yes, I have a mixed baby. Thank you for noticing... My first reaction to our mixed baby. Half Korea, half American and swollen. Appropriate conversations about mixed children do NOT begin with, "She's mixed so..."

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21 Responses

  1. monicast says:

    This is really interesting, and I’m sure you aren’t alone. I often wonder what our kids will look like, and even before my fiance and I had been dating very long, his mom said, “You will have cute kids,” which I hear a lot from people even more now. I guess I’ll just see when the time comes!

    • Hallie says:

      Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials and yes, your soon to be MIL must like you to have said that… Or she’s hinting that a baby soon wouldn’t be so bad hahaha.

      • monicast says:

        Thank you! Yes, he is the youngest child and the only boy. I hit the jackpot, didn’t I? But his mom is really sweet and supportive and his sisters already have kids so she has 4 grandkids to keep her occupied for a while 🙂

  2. BAP Blog says:

    I wonder sometimes if Hapa kids will feel welcome in either white ethnic spaces, asian ethnic spaces, both or none – and how much or this depends on the lottery of birth.

    • Hallie says:

      Yes, I wonder this too. I wonder if it depends more on where they’re raised, by whom their raised or any number of other factors and I also try to consider how to approach subjects of race that I never had to consider before because she is half.

  3. When people hear my boyfriend is Asian, I always get the same response “oh my gosh! You guys are going to have mixed babies! Mixed babies are super cute” it seems to be a trend to be told that. My boyfriend and I were discussing our future children one day, and concluded they’ll naturally look more Asian since I even get mistaken for being mixed at times! But at the same time, genetics are weird, so maybe they’ll inherit my mom’s blue eyes, or my dad’s Mediterranean skin or my grandmother’s blonde hair! Your daughter is stunning though 🙂

    • Hallie says:

      Yeah, we assumed she would look more Korean due to how strong their traits are but out baby has hazel eyes, a nice mix between my blues and his Browns and really did end up with a lot of quite mixed features. It’s certainly interesting to see.

  4. Amande says:

    I couldn’t bond with my baby right away either. Back in France the word is starting to spread out so I was not that surprised, I knew it would come. In the 산후조리원 though she was THE star (not mixed, 100% french baby). Everytime I went down to the nursery to drop her, they kept cheering…and I also have the “ooh she’s so cute” effect. Even when the only thing they can see is her feet. Come on!

    • Hallie says:

      Yes, the responses in Korea are humorous at times. I guess it’s all in how we feel that day. Sometimes I do just want to say, “you didn’t even see her!” but I don’t. How was birthing in Korea? I’m surprised you went to the postnatal hotel. That’s great! I have only heard of foreigners married to Koreans going to them. I’m glad you took advantage of it because I sure thought it was great.

  5. Nice post. I’m allergic to babies in general but this was very thoughtful and interesting to read.

    • Hallie says:

      Thanks Brent. Allergies to babies are very common among my friends too. Well, for many they used to be… it seems my baby has turned them. ^^

  6. kei says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I think from all the varying stories I’ve heard that everyone experiences childbirth differently, and maybe everyone assumes that it will be the same everyone else. It’s a universal reaction to mixed babies to talk about how adorable they are, but I sometimes wonder if people just don’t know what else to say to mixed race couples, so they try to say something positive.

    • Hallie says:

      I think many factors go into making women feel pregnancy and birthing should be and feel a certain way and if you deviate from that, something is wrong with you. I think it’s important to broaden the conversation on those topics.
      And it’s too bad people feel like they need to try to say something positive to mixed race couples haha. Positive, negative or other I don’t think a random comment for the sake of a comment is all that necessary. ^^

  7. This is bad. It appears as if you are not only using your child to draw attention to yourself, but you’re treating your child as an accessory. I know it probably sucks to hear it, and I believe your intentions are good, but I certainly hope you delete this post before your daughter learns to read and can see how you have commodified her existence.

    “Every day is just that much more exciting with our little mixed bundle of joy.” Replace mixed with any other race and this sounds disgusting. I think you will agree.

    ” “I’m sure she’s cute.” Of course I think she is, but I never know quite what the appropriate response is to this remark in Korean.”

    The appropriate response is to decide whether the person you’re talking to is worth educating or not. If so, then ask…. “so, if mixed babies are really cute, does that mean that Korean babies are ugly?”

    Be careful to look for words like “normal” and “our minjok” and explain why those words are inappropriate.

    People will call you overly sensitive and not want to interact with you after that.

    You probably think I ought to mind my own business and not tell you how to raise your kid… and well you’re right. But you made this post public and left it open for comments. Now, there are people who will dismiss what I have to say because I’m a mixed person with a chip on my shoulder. There are probably other mixed people who will disagree with me. I can accept that. I don’t have all the answers… but I know if my own mother had written something like this about me, I’d have been really hurt by it, and I would have told her as much.

    Good luck.

    • Hallie says:

      I’m sorry if you took offense to this. Honestly, perhaps my sarcasm didn’t come across the way I wanted it to. I wanted to allude to the fact that I find it inappropriate when people add the “She’s mixed so…” or “…because she’s mixed” to their sentences when they could simply say she’s cute like all other babies. Because they are. I don’t think the additional information on her being mixed is necessary in most cases and so I find it strange that people continuously add it to their sentences when talking about her.

      I don’t have the time or the urge to go around starting up a conversation with every random person that says my daughter is cute because she’s mixed in order to educate them and so I blogged. What draws attention to us is the fact that I’m white and an anomaly as it is and then add a stroller to the picture and it’s even more of a deviation from the standard foreigner that most Koreans come into contact with. Since Koreans have traditionally raised children in a communal context and not just a nuclear family setting, people approach us not only to see her but to pick her up and do their part too. She’s certainly not an accessory and I’m not sure how you think she’s been “commodified”.

      And I think if you take sentences out of context many times they will sound disgusting, however, that last part was half sarcastic(the latter part of the sentence which you didn’t include) and half honest (the former part of the sentence). While children develop and change over time, I think that mixed children can change in extremes and so it is exciting to see who she looks more similar to at any given time.

      • I will limit my usual snark for the time being and try to be as straightforward as possible.

        The article reads as if you are trying to draw attention to yourself using your child.

        What I meant by commodified (yes, I know it’s not a word) is that since the article reads as if your are trying to draw attention to yourself, it appears as if the commodity (your biracial child) is being traded for the attention.”

        There may have been parts which you wrote with incredibly good intentions, but parts where sarcasm you intended did not come through. Reading the “our little mixed bundle of joy” sentence in a sarcastic tone somewhat diffuses it. So perhaps it’s just an indication that either my reading skills need to improve, or you need to find ways to make it more obvious that something is sarcastic.

        It seems I may have jumped the gun or you backpedal extremely well. But I will tell you one thing, far more important than how your child looks is how your child self identifies, and despite all the hopes and desires and attempts to steer one way or the other (or both, as many monoracial parents of mixed kids say they will strive for), ultimately there will be times that you parents aren’t prepared, and outcomes you did not expect.

        I don’t profess to have all the answers, but disregard most of the stuff you read online by parents about what it’s like to have a mixed kid and listen to some of the people who lived through it.

        (Sorry if I’m too preachy.)

        • Hallie says:

          I still don’t know why you think I’m “trying” to draw attention to myself. As I said, I just draw attention for being white in a Korean world. I would prefer if people just let me do my stuff and I didn’t get attention, but we can’t all live under the radar, can we? I would say most of the attention we get is because I’m a foreigner with a Korean guy, followed by now there’s a baby too and then additionally, I do things with my infant that Korean ajjummas are forever telling me not to do because we raise children differently. “Yes, I know you think my kid is hot… but she’s not.” “Now you think she’s cold? Please make up your mind and then just mind your own business.” I can’t go around saying these things though because I represent not only myself but all foreigners/Americans and so I mind my Ps and Qs and generally smile and say, “it’s okay.”

          I am extremely interested in what your experiences and fellow mixed children and adults experiences have been. I am certain there will be situations and times that I will just not understand something or what she’s feeling and I have asked not only my mixed friends but also my “gyopo” friends to try and understand how it is growing up in a culture you or someone doesn’t identify with, or with parents who don’t understand what their children are going through because of the culture clashes or difficulty identifying with one culture or another. I know that we will face things that many parents don’t have to/ don’t want to and if you want to share why you have a chip on your shoulder or anything that you think I would benefit from raising a mixed child, I would be grateful because I know I just can’t fathom so many things and that is extremely scary as a now and new parent.

          I hope you understand that I did not mean my post to be offensive to mixed children or people. Feel free to email me though if you do want to share any of your honest/preachy maybe not so snarky insights.

  8. Lived through it meaning being one.

  9. The Insomniac says:

    Nice post. It’s a hard and long road ahead, being perceived by Koreans as being different. It is strange though, because most Koreans are mixed anyway, Japanese, American, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Pacific Island descendants being pretty much the norm here, rather than the exception. Nationality, like race, is mostly a social construct. Whether these constructs are internalised by an individual, really depends on the individual and on the society he/she finds himself in. People of Korean descent, born in South Africa would readily consider themselves South African and be seen as South African, but growing up here in Korea, an American descended person might never be seen as Korean, though his/her cultural references, ethnicity, etc, may well be Korean. I wonder (and hope) the new generation will accept Koreans who are different.

  10. Jiwon says:

    Good day. If I am remembering right, all mixed babies will come out with the darker complexion, dark eyes, dark hair looking in that regard more like the parent which those traits resemble… Unless both sets of parents have an ancestry from somewhere which includes lighter skin, lighter hair, and lighter eyes. If both parents do not have this genetic possibility to pass down to their children, it is genetically impossible for already naturally recessive traits to become dominant in the child. But once those traits are introduced back into the genome in the mixed child, at that point the next generation will be able to pass on the lighter traits again. Unless the child also grows up to choose a mate who has none of these traits in their ancestry. That would force the traits like blue eyes or red hair to continue to remain recessive. It would be the exceptionally rare case that these traits became dominant without both parents passing them on.

What do you think?