My daughter, the next-generation Texan

Kara sporting an áo dài, which she will most likely outgrow by next week
Kara sporting an áo dài, which she will most likely outgrow by next week

Kara and I were in a children’s resale shop the other day, and a cute blonde-haired ~6 year-old girl approached us.

Goldilocks: Aww she’s so cute.

Calm Me: Aww thank you so much. Say hi, Kara!

Goldilocks: She looks like she’s from Japan!

Keep-your-cool-she’s-just-a-kid Me: Actually, she’s born here just like you were!


Then, I realized that my daughter just had her first run-in with racial identity at just 6 months old.

Six months old. Wait… Okay. She won’t remember this, but what? I thought that Houston’s racial and ethnic diversity has significantly increased the last 20 years?! I thought this would be a non-issue by now. We even have the 3rd largest Vietnamese population in the United States. Why else do you think fish sauce creeps its way onto trendy menus? (*ahem* those amazing Uchi brussel sprouts!)

But you know what? All of that does not matter. No matter where I raise my daughter, she will have to find her own identity.

It broke my heart a little because I sometimes forget how confusing the journey can be to establish a secure sense of heritage balanced with individuality. Like that time I realized, “OH. Not everybody eats their spaghetti with chopsticks?!” But at the same time, there are some very powerful clarifying moments that made me walk a little taller. Like that time I learned that my mother escaped Vietnam the day after Saigon fell in 1975 via 13 foot fishing boat with her parents, 8 brothers & sisters, and 2 nieces.

Kara receives her birth announcement letter from President Obama at 4 months old
Kara receives her birth announcement letter from President and First Lady Obama at 4 months old

Racially, my daughter is half Chinese and half Vietnamese. Culturally, she is 3rd generation Asian American who will most likely identify herself as a Houstonian, a Texan, an American. (Yes, in that order.) That’s quite the matrix and it’s my responsibility to simplify things so she understands her roots, yet, at the same time, avoid oversimplification in order to protect the integrity of our families’ legacies.

Wow. That’s a tall order.

But you know what? A close friend and mentor has this motto, “Think Big. Act Fast. Start Small.” I think I will adopt that motto for my parenting style. Big picture: a person confident with her identity. Acting fast and starting small: well, let’s just take it one day at a time.

One small thing we’re doing is celebrating the Lunar New Year from February 19-21 at home. We will dress her up in a hand-me-down áo dài (traditional Vietnamese dress… if she still fits it then!), and also give her lì xì/hong bao/red envelopes filled with money. Some day, we will make it out to the huge Lunar New Year celebration at Viet Hoa Center. But for now, our activities are dictated by the cadence of naps every 2 hours. Remember, start small!

Kara hasn't quite figured out the purpose of the lì xì/hong bao/red envelope
Kara hasn’t quite figured out the purpose of the lì xì/hong bao/red envelope

Flashback to February 2014 – YAY! We’re Expecting!

Richard and I are expecting our first child in June 2014! If it were up to him, it’d be our little Tracy, regardless if boy or girl. As in Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets. *eye roll* We are beyond thrilled. Although this didn’t happen easily for us (took us 2 years, in fact), I do not regret the journey we had to take. I’ve learned so much about the endocrine system, trusting your own critical thinking, and the power of prayer.


I am overwhelmed with extreme gratitude when I think about the wonderfully supportive community of family and friends who surrounded us and prayed for & thought of us, especially when we hit the troughs of hopelessness. I get even more overwhelmed knowing that I’ve been blessed with a marriage and husband that has withheld the storm. I am humbled by all these graces from God to the point that I ask myself what did I, a sinner, do to deserve such amazing gifts.

So if you’re experiencing infertility, hang in there. It gets lonely since 90% of the population has never been through what you’re going through and probably never will. I can’t guarantee any results, but talk about it, pray about it, and don’t let it consume your life. Be nice to yourself. Open your mind to acupuncture (shout out to The Axelrad Clinic for Natural Women’s Healthcare). There’s only so much you can do. It happened for us when I finally surrendered to the fact that maybe I’m not supposed to bear our children…. which is quite hard for a Type A to do.


If you are supporting someone experiencing infertility, do give hugs, do be optimistic, do say a little prayer, but also show some vulnerability. It’s ok to be sad sometimes and also take a moment to say, “THIS SUCKS.” It meant so much to me when I saw that something actually bothered Richard, the most laid-back guy ever.

Things not to do: feel sorry for your friend, offer unsolicited advice (especially when it’s remedial), or complain about how quickly you got pregnant and aren’t ready to be a parent.

Thanks again to our wonderful support system. This baby is going to be spoiled with love!! What a way to start life!