Friday, September 16, 2011

"Is That Yo' Baby?" and a Giveaway Too

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

So, I was walking down the street in North Philadelphia the other day, pushing babygirl in her stroller. I was behind a group of four school-age Black girls and was enjoying myself eavesdropping on their adolescent chatter. I was also admiring their hair do's and wondering how girls so young paid for so much hair, but I digress.

So, eventually I had to pass the girls and as I did so they oohed and ahhed over the baby, but they were none too subtle with their reactions to her coloring.  "Why she look like that?" one girl asked. Another girl  quickly added, "You adopted her right?" And finally the smartest one in the bunch just came out and asked, "Is that yo' baby?" I smiled and answered, "Yes, she's mine. Her daddy is Spanish." And that pretty much finished the conversation. They were done with me. I will never see them again. But what I really wanted to say was, 'Jesus, Mary and Joseph, why would I adopt a White baby? And who would give me one anyway?'

But seriously, I'm not mad at those girls. They just voiced what I'm sure so many others wanted to say anyway. In fact, quite a few people haven't been able to hold their tongues and have thrown out the following comments:

My doctor said: "Oh my gosh, she doesn't look anything like you does she? I mean really. I can't be the only one who's told you that?" (Gee thanks and you have a medical degree?)

Random lady at the store: "Is that your baby? Oh, I mean of course she's yours why else would you be pushing her in a stroller?"(Oh, I don't know. Maybe I'm being paid to push her by her real mother.)

Several other well meaning folks: "She's so cute, but did your other kids have straight hair and skin so, um, fair? Isn't this strange?" (Actually, no. Both my kids were pale faces with jet black, straight hair at birth. But luckily they darkened up and their hair went rogue kinky, so I'm not worried about babygirl.)

Seriously, Meltingpot readers, none of these reactions are shocking to me, but they can get a bit wearisome. And every once in a while they make me sad, but that could be due to the fact that I still have an abundance of lady hormones that can make me cry during a baby food commercial. But at the end of the day, I just try to laugh it all off. In retrospect, these comments are terribly funny.

I bet some of you have some "funny" comments people have made about your families of different colors. Leave me your best of's in the comments section and I'll pick a random winner to receive one of my t-shirts that says, "Same Family, Different Colors." You can specify if you want the kid or adult version. Drawing happens Monday morning before I post. So you have the weekend.

Okay, I'm listening. And by the way, if you want to listen to other people discuss this issue, you should tune into the podcast, Is That Your Child?



The Golden Papaya said...

Someone asked me if my middle son was Puerto Rican. I mean, I guess it would be possible if he were adopted. But it was still kind of a weird/funny question. Especially since I think he looks a lot like his two brothers, and the person didn't ask about them.

claudia said...

When my granddaughter, who lives with me, was about 2 weeks old I was grocery shopping with her and a woman asked where she came from. I almost said "her mama's vagina". Fortunately I caught myself because I didn't really intend to be snarky. It certainly wasn't the only time that question has been asked in the past five years, just the first time. On another occasion I was at a work related gathering and a colleague's partner asked where I got her and said that she and her partner were hoping to adopt an African baby and wanted to know what agency I used. These questions really don’t upset me but I just wonder why people don’t have a better understanding of how genetics mixes everything up. I have three beautiful grandchildren all different hues.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a long reply which did not post. I might get around typing it again. But I wanted to tell you about this show called españoles en el mundo. The premise of the show is to visit places in the world and talk to the Spaniards who live there.

This episode in particular, they are in Colorado. The biracial, bi-cultural relationship featured in the first part reminded me the Kinky Gazpacho story.

The show is very interested. I greatly enjoyed the Bogotá episode.


The Lady D said...

A Caucasian male friend of ours was strolling in Midtown Manhattan with his 2 year-old son. A woman approached him and said: "Oh what an adorable little boy you have, where is the mother from?"

His answer: "Kansas."

Rose Anne said...

c9 years ago I had the privielge of bring home my little boy from Haiti. So his beautiful Ebony skin and curly black hair is a contrast to my way too white skin... But yes he is my Son! I get Oh! are you fostering him, where is his parents? Well I am his Mom , His Birth Mom is in Haiti and Loved him so much that she asked that I adopt him so he could be healthy and get an education..we send her pic's and notes and have just last month found she made it through the earthquake.. Praise God!
I would not change a thing. He is the love of my life and I am priveleged to be his Momma!
Black, White or Purple with Green Poka Dots it doesn't Matter ....

Anonymous said...

i'm a bw who is not in a relationship with anyone so for that reason i don't have kids. but, i've seen situations like this. there are two that i know of for sure. i watched some kind of documentary of a Congolese woman married to a Korean man and they live in South korea. they have two children, neither of which look like her. i think they look more Polynesian/Hawaiian. then there's the tennis prodigy Jan Silva. have you ever seen him? his dad is a regular medium brown-skinned African american guy and his mom is a former tennis player from Finland. do you know little Jan has straight blonde hair and green eyes? he really does look white, except for the fact that he's slightly tanned. but he really does look like a white kid. in both cases i think the kids are beautiful. but, i wonder how many times people have asked them if their children were really their's? genetics would be a very interesting field of study!

EM said...

I can empathize... I am a bw with a wh and in the hospital with my first child the black nurses couldn't stop coming by to visit my little white kid -he had straight black hair and was quite pale. He has since darkened and has lots of curly hair, but that was a pretty funny phase with the double takes and comments.

Anonymous said...

Some of the most offensive comments I have heard come a doctor's office. You would think that a sensitivity course would be required. I have had doctor's ask me "Do you have any children of your own?" I can handle this question most of the time by most people, but from a doctor? I expect them to understand that a parent (through adoption) might find that offensive. I usually answer this question with "She is my own and she's an only child". After hearing me speak to my daughter in Spanish, I have had them ask if I was going to teach her English. Grr!! Oh and I wish that I had a dollar for every time a medical professional called her Mexican. Its like She's brown, Spanish is spoken...SHE MUST BE MEXICAN!!!!
When we first came home, we heard "is she yours a lot". I was getting quite upset until one day, the teller at the bank must have saw it on my face and explained, "well I never saw you pregnant". I softened then and realized that people I saw causally might generally be confused because the husband is white and as am I and then one day we show up with a nearly two year old "morena."

I had more anecdotes in the original "eaten" message, but I really just wanted to commiserate with you about certain medical professionals. Obviously to obtain that medical degree, a course in sensitivity is not required.

Colombia Mami

Jen Marshall Duncan said...

I had an experience with a doctor, too. When my 3 kids were under age 4, I took them to the doctor with me once for an appointment. My doctor looked at them and said it was "remarkable that they look so much alike! Do they have the same father?" Umm...YES. My husband. We've been married for over 10 years. I never visited that particular doctor again.

My biracial son identifies as black and has mostly black friends. It's always funny when I walk up to him in a group. "Is that your mama? She white!"

I think I've heard how much my kids DON'T look like me so often that when someone actually says one of them DOES resemble me I am convinced they are only saying it to be polite. But no matter what they say, I am their mom....I have the stretch marks to prove it ;-P

Jenny said...

My two "favorite" questions that have often been presented to this very white mama concerning her brown boys (from two different biological families) are "Where's his mom?" (Um--I'm right here! Wait--you mean his birth mother?) and "Are they brothers?" (They're both in my family, aren't they?). Aaah--bless people's well-meaning little hearts.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are both white, but we have three biological children who look nothing alike! They have three different eye colours (green, blue, brown) and you would never pick them out in a crowd as being bio siblings. Genetics are "like a box of chocolates" (you never know what you're going to get!) and being a mom has little to do with who kids resemble and everything to do with who wipes their tears, cheers them on, teaches them to make their way in the world...

Anonymous said...

My husband is Filipino and I am white. Up until my daughter was about a year old, my daughter looked more Asian than white. I often heard the following comments (followed by my restrained reactions):

"Did you just get her?" (Yes - I picked her up at Walmart on my way here.)

"Where did she come from?" "New Jersey", I replied. "Oh, I think it's a lot farther than that", he stated. (Wanna see the scars?)

Oddly enough, people now often refer to my daughter as the "Asian version" of me, and I never get asked about her being adopted anymore. Now I can laugh about it, but at the time, I recall how hurt I was when people made those statements and how narrow-minded I felt they were. Especially in this day and age when there are so many mixed race children.

Anyway...glad to know I'm not alone!

Anonymous said...

I am a dark haired caucasion woman. People have mistaken me for being Hispanic, although I am not. All three of my children have blond or light brown hair like their father. I have almost never had anyone say "oh he/she looks just like you". Until one day when I was babysitting a friend's child! As this sweet dark haired little girl was snuggling on my lap a woman said "your daughter is beautiful. she looks just like you." Oddly enough it felt really good to hear that and I was kinda sad to see what I'd been missing all these years.

Anonymous said...

Accept and tolerate misunderstandings kindly. I come from a huge mixed-race family representing 8 countries and including adopted children. Not everyone is as lucky we are to have exposure and it’s presumptuous to expect others to be aware. Although these are exciting times in which mixed race families are more common, it was not always this way. If people ask you questions, it’s a wonderful opportunity to share your insights.

Sarah said...

I am mixed and my children are even more mixed. My daughter is darker than I (but much lighter than my father) and my son is blond and blue eyed. I have heard everything, the nanny confusion is a classic. I once was complimented on how good of a nanny I was to my son. I was very taken aback by the condescension of that one. Also overhearing a nurse saying "I've seen her parents, there is no way she is 'hispanic'" with my Spanish surname on her tag. Huh? I still don't really understand that one.

From the nursing staff in the nursery to strangers who see my kids next to each other, I wonder why so many people think nothing of asking or commenting on parentage? It happens so often. I am tired of "teachable moments", I just want our family to be treated with consideration and respect. No questions asked.

Kelly said...

I have two girls. Features-wise, we all look the same...our baby pictures are identical, but coloring is a whole other story. My older daughter has taken after me. She's very fair, light hair and blue eyes. Daddy's Greek (dark hair, olive skin, dark hazel eyes), and our little one "matches" him perfectly. I took them to the market the other day, sans Daddy, and the cashier asked if they were sisters. When I replied yeas, she asked, "from the same father?" Now, I know in this day and age, blended families is very common, but really? Cooth lacking...