Engagement Ring


My birth mother was a white woman, and my birth father was from Mexico.

As a baby, I was adopted into the Dean family. The Deans have given me every opportunity in life and will forever be my true parents to whom I owe every success.

Still, I was raised without a real identity other than "white." While I see the privileges this has afforded me, I have forever longed for more. Born with my mother's light skin, my father's dark hair and eyes, and being raised in an ethnically ambiguous home, I never knew what I wanted--but I hoped that one day I would have a people to identify with.

Then I met Kyle Adler. His grandfather was an Auschwitz survivor, and he and his wife immigrated to America in 1946 to escape post-war Germany. Here, they raised their family, practicing their faith in secrecy out of fear. Kyle, a 3rd generation immigrant, now identifies as culturally Jewish and proudly German. As Kyle's fiancee, this rich history of the Adler family has helped me to form an identity of my own.

While I've loved learning from Kyle's family, I've also had to take a step back and consider my identity as a whole. Do I want to give up on finding a connection to the Mexican culture that runs in my blood? Did I really gain no culture from my adoption? What is left to find?

I chose a photo of my engagement ring because it is symbolic. It represents the tie I now have to the Adler family, Judaism, and the German culture. But it is also in the shape of an ampersand; a symbol of inclusion. It serves as a reminder that my "sentence" does not need to end at marriage. Instead, it can begin.

Place(s): Germany
Year: 1946

– Tony D.

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant