The Joke’s on Me: How My Name Became a Punch Line

In his latest contribution to the online adoptee magazine Gazillion Voices, Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, reflects on the “otherness” encountered as an Asian-American  growing up with a name like “Steve.”

I recently joined my wife, Shannon, at her company Christmas party. It was a small party at a local brewery with about 40 people attending. We had a room reserved off the main building where employees and their partners were able to eat, drink, and be merry. Early on in the evening, I struck up a conversation with a fellow partier. We discussed careers, motorcycles, and industrial paint (Shannon’s company sells paint.) It was a nice conversation, but not nice enough to ignore the food that was being set up. I graciously thanked him for his time and expressed how much I enjoyed the company, but that I could hear the buffet calling my name. We shook hands and I headed for the table of goodness. As I walked off, I overheard him talking with another coworker. “That’s Shannon’s husband. He works in adoption. His name’s Steve. He doesn’t look like a Steve…”

Click here to read Steve’s full article in Gazillion Voices.

For information about Holt’s post-adoption and adoptee services, click here.

3 Replies to “The Joke’s on Me: How My Name Became a Punch Line”

  1. That is too funny. I am sure my son gets that quite often. His name is Joe and he is a Korean adoptee. He went to a Christmas party with his then girlfriend. She worked in the Pharmacy dept. at the hospital were I work. He was talking to one of the Pharmacist and introduced himself as Kathy’s son. He said my mom is Kathy, she works in Respiratory Therapy. Well this particular Pharmacist knows me and he said the look on her face was priceless. He realized her confusion and said to her ” can’t you see the resemblance”? This is the sense of humor that he has.

  2. Well you are in good company. I know many wonderful Steves and Stephens (as my son is named). They are all good looking like you and they come in various shapes, sizes, colors, etc.

    Stephen is Chinese and he fits his name, by his character alone. I will have to ask him now that he is 15.5 if he ever gets that comment “you don’t look like a Steve”. Although all my kids from China have both an American name and Chinese. They still use their American one for now.


  3. So our Korean born (Holt adoptee) son brings us back Starbucks cups from Korea, with Korean writing (of course) and my husband is asked by the Vietnamese mother of one of his students if it’s Japanese? if it’s Chinese? When he explains it’s Korean she laughs and says the table is turned – everyone asks her if she’s Chinese, or Japanese. How many assumptions are monkeys on our backs!

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