04/22/2013 05:56 pm ET Updated Jun 22, 2013

The Daddy, the 'Girl' and My Burgeoning Identity

Christine Sachs

My daughter, Weevy, is turning 3 in late June. One of her favorite toys of late is her dollhouse, a gift from her grandparents last Christmukkah. I love how it's described on Amazon:

Loving Family Manor is a smaller, compact Loving Family Dollhouse, which folds for easy storage. The Manor has 4 large bedrooms, with realistic design and playful details. Also includes Mom, Dad, and Baby. Provides open-ended imaginative play. Great addition to the Loving Family collection.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, it's a purple and fuchsia plastic three-bedroom "manor" with no bathroom (which, as I am in the throes of potty training, would've been great). The mom, dad and baby are of generic Caucasian stock. Since it was an unfurnished apartment -- sorry, "manor" -- we also bought some basic pieces that Weevy could play with.

The other day, I noticed something particular about her pretend play. She called the dad figure "Daddy." She has named the baby "Cousin Randy." But she called the mom figure "Girl." When I ask her if the mom figure is "Mommy," she says "No! It's the girl."

To be clear, Weevy's daddy and cousins are Caucasian. Her mommy is an adopted Korean-American.

When I was a child, I didn't make such distinctions. My mother is blonde, so of course mothers were "supposed" to be blonde. (At play may also be some social conditioning that "parents" are blonde and blue-eyed... or at the very least, white.) For my daughter, it's totally normal to think of "mommy" as an Asian woman and the blonde "mommy" as just some girl.

As an adoptee, to have my Asian-ness be so normalized is... strange. I think that this is what most people must experience: they are simply family. There isn't a need for explanation or understanding. But for so long, family has been an "other" for me. My family all looked the same, sounded the same, even acted the same to a great degree -- except for me. I have felt this other-ness in me, around me, between me and the major relationships in my life.

Maybe that's the conversation to be having -- what's actually in the way of having family just "be"? What pleasure is there in the drama of being different? What has me/you/us avoiding "normal"?

I invite you to consider the possibilities.