Half Chinese/Half Caucasian, by Lora Mao

Lora Mao is a Caucasian woman married to a Chinese man, and they have a five-month-old daughter whom they plan to raise in both of their cultures. See what she has to say about her own experience in raising an interracial child. Lora also moderates our new Bulletin Board topic, "Raising Interracial Children”.

My daughter, Sara, is five-months-old. Since my husband is Chinese, she is half Chinese and half Caucasian. As she grows, I feel it is important that we teach her about both of our cultures.

My interest in Asian culture goes way back.  I have always collected Asian art, I have a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do, I can write some Korean, and I love learning about east Asian cultures and traditions.  I even started a 100+ page, nonprofit website to help others learn about east Asian cultures and traditions for 18 countries.

With all these interests, it was only natural that I ended up marrying an Asian man who is Chinese.  He came here from Shanghai in 1993 to pursue his master's degree. In our marriage, we've decided to compromise when it comes to which is the best culture to follow for such things as cooking, holidays, etc. Since we've been married, I have learned to cook Chinese food and to eat with chopsticks; my husband has learned to celebrate birthdays like an American and he has learned more English. Our first child, Sara, was born in January, 2000, and I want her to learn as much about the Chinese culture as possible so that she will know where her father came from. I would also like her to learn Mandarin.

Even though it's only been five months, the challenges are apparent. I bought myself a CD ROM, but had a really hard time trying to learn Chinese.  I struggle with the pronunciations. My husband sometimes laughs at me when I pronounce something, and it sounds nothing like it should. Even if he tries to repeat it to me several times, I still cannot pronounce some of the words. But I will try my hardest to provide my daughter with the necessary books, CD ROMs, or videos necessary to help her learn Mandarin.  It could also be a benefit to her future if our country begins to open its doors to more business with China.

With that future in mind, I've bought Sara Chinese clothing that she can wear when she gets bigger.  She also has hand-crafted tiger shoes and a jade rabbit necklace that her grandparents sent her from China. We have Chinese music for her to listen, and we've made several trips to Chinatown already to expose her to shops and restaurants. Of course, she doesn't know what is going on because she is so young, but it is never too early to start. I am even trying to be friends with some of my neighbors who are Chinese and have children so that maybe someday when she is older, she can spend some time playing with their children and be exposed to the language.  And of course, my husband sometimes talks some Chinese with her when he's playing with or feeding her.

Another thing that is important to us is to expose her to her grandparents in China, even if it's only by way of the postal service right now. RecentIy, I dressed Sara in an Asian outfit, put on the red socks that her grandparents had sent her, and took some pictures to send to them.  Although I have never met my husband's parents, I want them to know that I am doing my best to expose her to their cultures and traditions.  I hope to visit China someday so that her grandparents can hold her.

Sara will not be an all American girl, an all Chinese girl, or an American Born Chinese (ABC)--she will be something different and special. When you look at Sara, she looks Caucasian when she is alone with me, and Asian when she is alone with her father. When we are all together, though, most people think she looks more like me.  Whoever she looks like doesn't matter anyway-- she is my little doll.

Even though I am not going through the adoption experience that many families with Chinese children have, our experience is still different from raising a child with only one cultural background.

To see more about Sara, you can visit and watch her grow at her website: http://www.geocities.com/sara2000baby

To learn more about east Asian cultures and traditions (including China) go to the Asian Connection website at http://go.to/asianconnection