Cruel & Racist Statements Told To Asian Adoptee Children
  • by Ethel Navales
  • February 28, 2014
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Kim Kelley-Wagner never married, but she always knew she wanted children. So when she saw a story in Time Magazine about Chinese adoptees, she suddenly found herself looking into adoption.

After taking some time to be sure of her decision, she made the leap. In 2001, Kelley-Wagner adopted 10-month-old Liliana. Later, in 2008, she adopted 2-year-old Meika.

Adopting two daughters didn’t make Kelley-Wagner feel any less of a mother than the women who gave birth to their children. Being adopted didn’t make Liliana or Meika feel less like daughters. Unfortunately, many others didn’t seem to share their sentiments.

“The comments began right from the start,” Kelley-Wagner says. “We would be shopping, and cashiers or store clerks would say things like, ‘How much did she cost?’ or ‘You could have bought a car for what it probably cost to adopt her.'”

Some were so insensitive that they began attacking the younger daughter Meika who had a bilateral cleft lip and palate when she was born. People openly questioned why Kelley-Wagner didn’t choose a “perfect” child.

Rather than allow these comments to anger her and her daughters, Kelly-Wagner decided to turn this into a project. Hoping to teach other people about their hurtful comments while simultaneously providing an outlet for her daughters to express themselves, she came up with a photo project where her daughters hold up the comments that were thrown at their family.

Both of her daughters agreed to the project and agreed that it could help bring awareness to how hurtful  statements can be.

Rather than respond with anger, Kelley-Wagner encourages her daughter to instead make people realize what they’re saying. “My advice to them is, leave your offenders speechless,” she says. “I think people are curious and don’t know any better.”

The daughters seem to be following their mothers footsteps. Kelley-Wagner recalls a woman who said she could not truly love someone she didn’t give birth too. Liliana then responded, “Oh, did you give birth to your husband?”

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(Source 1, 2)


  1. I am absolutely disgusted at how ignorant strangers were saying such horrible things to these girls and their mom. It’s always a beautiful thing when children are adopted, no matter their origin, because they will be receiving the love and care that all children deserve. I also was reminded of the racist criticism against the Romney family because one of Mitt Romney’s sons adopted a child that happened to have a darker skin color than the rest of the family. People need to learn to not to be insensitive, celebrate adoption, and most of all, be open to love, whether there is a genetic connection or not.

    • So am I. Adopting a child is one of the most selfless things a person can do. It takes a big heart to go out there and decide to raise a child you did not give birth to and bring them into your family. I hope one day to adopt a child of my own and give him or her a good home.

  2. If I were a mom and someone said any of these things to me or my children the first thing I’d say to them is “What a stupid question.”

  3. I wonder how old these people were or what race they are. I am not trying to be racist but I got the impression that they are Caucasian and depending on their ages, racism is nothing but a daily topic of conversation. And if you’re wondering why it is because the fact that all I hear growing up is that White Americans always claimed this to be their country. They failed to realize that America is diverse and being American is only a nationality, and also that their ancestors migrated from Europe. When I read this article and the hate comments I felt disgusted. I can almost compare the disgusted feelings I get when I see people killing people for no apparent reason.

  4. As someone who grew up with kids who were adopted from other countries, I know how hurtful these things can be. I was born and raised in America, and I am of Vietnamese descent. But because of South Asian blood from my maternal grandmother’s side, I don’t look so clearly “Asian”. I’ve had people mistaken me for Mexican or Filipino and tell me similar things. Every time they said something like this to me, all I ever said was, “I was born and raised here in America, and those people you insulted are my biological parents. When you assume things and treat people like that, it makes you a bigot. So instead of worrying about my own problems, worry about your own. Because last time I checked, discrimination of any kind is wrong.” It makes me sad and sick that people think that racism no longer exists, when it’s still one of the most prevalent types of discrimination. TO be a parent means that you love, care, and support a child, whether or not they are of your own flesh and blood. THAT is what a real parent is to me.

  5. I was blessed to be adopted from South Korea when I was just a toddler. My sister was adopted as well a couple of years after me also from South Korea. This story just makes my heart hurt. When a family decides to adopt the blessing is a two way street. The children because they are going to a loving home and the adoptive family because they are getting a new addition to the family. I can’t fathom what my life would be like right now if I were still in Korea. I hold no animosity or ill will towards my birth family because in the end I have the life that they wished for me when I was born. Just because they were not able to personally provide it for me doesn’t hurt me. I wish these girls nothing but love and confidence as they move through life.

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