As mother to a child of mixed race (mine happens to be half Caucasian and half African American), before her birth, I never put thought into things I would hear.
The first time someone, a stranger, asked me a question at the pharmacy, I was floored. Minding my own business standing in line holding my beautiful, golden baby, a woman asked, “Where did you adopt her from?” I stood in utter dismay. What? First of all, I didn’t. But more importantly, what in the world would make you think it would be okay to ask a total stranger such a personal question? Should I ask you when the last time you had sex was? I mean, isn’t that about the same level of intrusiveness?
When I owned a salon and spa, someone thought it would be totally legit to ask me if I had “spray tanned” my baby. And she was serious! Ummmm, ya, actually I did, that was following her lip injections and her perm. She is a year old. Seriously?!
I mean I get it, it can be confusing. But that doesn’t mean your mind needs to make your mouth move. I have friends who have biracial children. One in particular is Filipino and her first child is super pale, has bright red hair and blue eyes. I can only imagine the looks and questions. The questions that are not YOUR business!
One assumption that always gets me, and I am sure makes most of my African American male friends perhaps slightly uncomfortable when we are in public together, is when someone says to one of them, “Oh, your daughter is beautiful” ― except as Jerry Springer would announce, “He is NOT the baby daddy!”
Just because a white woman is with a man of color and the child is brown does NOT make that man the father. A nervous laugh always ensues when that question is uttered by yet another stranger. Immediately, the look on the face of my friend says, What do I say?
I typically will hop in with a thank you. I am beyond the point of explanation. Although at times I want to concoct a long drawn out story of how I was just about to break the news to him that, in fact, this is his child albeit an immaculate conception.
There are times when I am not immune to wondering. Just yesterday at the beach I was chatting with a mom who was speaking what I thought was Italian. Turns out it was Portuguese. She was Asian. That was confusing enough and then her child ran up and there was no resemblance. None. But I did not ask her if he was adopted or if she was the nanny or the aunt. The next child I see wandering to the playground was blonde, blue-eyed and with a fair complexion. Mom follows slowly behind, Hispanic in appearance. I think (to myself) little one must resemble Dad, until Dad walked up and NOPE! But once again, not my business. Love is love. Genetics are weird.
In a beautiful world where children are blessed by love whether it’s adoption or genetics, I encourage you to keep your thoughts and inquisitions to yourself. Does it matter where a child came from? Because ultimately they all came from the same place.
Just ask the woman who a couple of years ago made the mistake of asking me while in the checkout line at Costco. She caught me on a day where I had had enough. With seven years of experience now under my belt, when she looked at my daughter with the usual compliment of beauty and then at me with the worn out question of “where did you get her?” I looked her in the eyes and said, “From my uterus.” I have never been checked out of Costco more quickly by a shocked cashier.
Children hear what you say and we as adults don’t need to emphasize their differences in a world where differences are not positively embraced by everyone. Do you really need to know? Keep your words kind and your nosey thoughts to yourself unless you want to risk hearing the word uterus out loud in public.
Post first published on Huffington Post