23 years ago, at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., a doctor moved quickly, yet confidently, around a small hospital room.
The date was Aug. 14, 1979.
Patricia, an unmarried white woman in her early twenties, lay on her back in the maternity suite. She watched her doctor hurry around her as he coached her, preparing her to give birth to her first child.
It is unknown whether the father of the child — a middle-aged black man — looked on as the scurrying professionals helped bring his son into the world.
But there was one fact that the welcoming party in that hospital could not contest — the child would be biracial.
The doctor’s steady hands moved into position, as they had done many other times. His mind raced with excitement, but he remained constantly vigilant, totally prepared for any surprises.
Just seconds before the child entered the world, there was a moment when doctor and mother shared a feeling of pleasant uncertainty.
No one in the operating room knew what life had in store for the new arrival. No one knew what cards would be dealt to this new creation. Would it be a bluff or a royal flush?
No one knew. But the answer was there.
All of the puzzle pieces were there, in the midst of all the tiny metal instruments, the hospital’s cold linoleum floors and the hundreds of doctors and nurses.
The sad reality of Patricia’s drug and alcohol addictions and psychological problems, which made her unfit to raise a child, was there. The decision by the courts to put her first child up for adoption, and years later, the decision to allow two more of her children to be adopted, was there.
The adoption of Patricia’s first two children by a loving young white couple with the last name Mills and the adoption of Patricia’s last child to another white couple with the last name Camella were all there.
The Mills’s decision to adopt a child from South Korea three years before adopting Patricia’s children was there.
The taunts of elementary school kids asking Patricia’s firstborn child, “Are you black or white?” were there. And the rude and sarcastic comments thrown at the Mills family — racist smirks like “My, what a biracial family” — were all there.
And the transcendence of such bigotry and the strengthening and metamorphosis of an insecure biracial child into a confident, intelligent and loving adult was there.
His graduation from high school with honors, his soccer scholarship to Western Kentucky University, and the love, pride and support of his parents and family were all in that hospital room some 23 years ago.
But no one could see it. No one could possibly expect that this little child dealt a bluff would turn it into a royal flush with the help of one loving couple who decided to look past skin color.
Although it has taken me since that day in the hospital to reconcile my feelings about my biological parents and about having white parents, a white sister and Korean brother, I have done just that.
That’s my story.
I’ve learned to disregard the harsh and destructive words and learned to appreciate and love myself.
And I’ve had the two best parents in the world talking to me, coaching me, preparing me for what cards life may deal. They’ve taught me that love is what brought us all together, and love is what will keep us there, together.
Most importantly, they have showed me that love looks a lot like the color of water.
As deep and rich as a mother’s good night hugs and kisses and as bright and shiny as a father’s continual instructions to “always be honest” and “never quit.” That is the color of love.
It has taken me since that day when an uncertain doctor placed me in the arms of an uncertain and unfit mother to grasp the concept of that color.
But somewhere, deep down, tattooed in my viscera, illuminating with the company of the splendor of my soul, I’ve known that color, all along.
That’s my story, and from now on, I’ll be writing your stories. So if your phone rings unexpectedly, and it’s me, just relax. I won’t bite, hard.
I’m just in the business of telling stories. So just in case I call and ask, be ready to tell me your story.
Each week, Zach picks a random person from the student directory and calls them to ask, “What’s Your Story?” His series runs every Tuesday. Zach can be reached at [email protected]