Being asked this question: "Where are they from?" - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 30 Old 10-05-2010, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH is clearly from India (in my view!) and I am white-American. We were with our three young daughters at the doctor's office recently, and after the doctor's 10-15 minute visit with us, she says on her way out, "The girls are beautiful! Where are they from?"

I was dumbfounded. From? I was confused and at first named our town where we live... then I realized she thought they were adopted. Finally I said, "oh, he's from India, so they're half Indian." Our girls' skin is rather white, but they have the beautiful large brown eyes and dark hair of people from India. anyway... I was so confused, I mean, DH was there with me and we were both talking to her! And she thought they weren't his kids?

Just had to vent! Anyone else have this happen to them?

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#2 of 30 Old 10-05-2010, 11:08 PM
 
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Yep! I usually grin and just say "from me", although if I'm really feeling ornery I"ll say "from my uterus"
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#3 of 30 Old 10-06-2010, 12:32 AM
 
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I am also white, with an Indian husband. My children look very Indian.

When I am alone with them, people frequently ask, "where are they from?"

I just answer them very matter-of-factly, with a pleasant expression and tone. "They are not adopted. My husband is from India"

In my opinion, the people that have asked me, "where are they from", are not doing so with any hostility. They just honestly thought my kids were adopted. And for whatever reason, they were interested enough to ask.

I don't want my kids to see me get upset by this question. I don't want them to start to think it is a bad thing that they look more like their dad, and not like me. So I don't let them see me get flustered or annoyed when asked that question.
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#4 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 07:22 AM
 
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i don't get that, but i do get, 'oh she must have gotten all her looks from dad,' whether my hubby is with me or not. makes me sad. never thought about my reaction affecting her though. i will take more caution especially when she gets older.
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#5 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 07:55 AM
 
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#6 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 08:30 AM
 
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Yes. I have gotten similar comments, too. It is frustrating, but as was said, it's not usually meant in a malicious way. People are just sort of clueless.

A couple of 'gems' were once, long ago, when I was nursing DS1 and someone approached me and said, "You shouldn't nurse other people's babies." And she seriously meant it!

Another was when DS2 was a baby and DS1 was 5 or so, and someone approached me in Costco and asked me where I "got them from." She went on to tell me that she and her husband were looking to adopt internationally, and my kids were so gorgeous, she wanted to "get" kids like mine. I was dumbfounded. I told her they were biologically my kids, thank you very much.

My kids don't look anything like me. I realize that. My DH is from Pakistan and my kids definitely favor him(I'm blonde, blue eyes, very pale). *shrug* It is what it is.
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#7 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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another one that's a bit ... "rude too" = was asked at the park last month if my children were .... my grandchildren (I'm 47, they are 11, 9 and 3 !)
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#8 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 10:20 AM
 
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Nicole - I have also been approached by people who were interested in an international adoption, wanting to know "where I got" my beautiful children! I wasn't trying to be sarcastic at all, I was just kind of flustered, and I said, "We made these children ourselves" Not sure why that came out of my mouth!

I also was approached once while nursing my son. Actually, it was a lactation consultant. She was thrilled that I was nursing an adopted baby, and was hoping that I could provide support for other adoptive moms that wanted to do the same. But once I told her that the baby was my biological child, we ended up having a great conversation, and I did become a contact person for her clients that wanted support for nursing twins (my older two children are twins)
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#9 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 10:22 AM
 
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It was actually my husband that pointed out that I should watch my reaction in front of our children. I guess once he saw me look particularly defeated when a stranger was dumbfounded that our daughter was my biological child. He noticed our daughter quietly observing me.
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#10 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 10:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Nancy~ View Post
Nicole - I have also been approached by people who were interested in an international adoption, wanting to know "where I got" my beautiful children! I wasn't trying to be sarcastic at all, I was just kind of flustered, and I said, "We made these children ourselves" Not sure why that came out of my mouth!

I also was approached once while nursing my son. Actually, it was a lactation consultant. She was thrilled that I was nursing an adopted baby, and was hoping that I could provide support for other adoptive moms that wanted to do the same. But once I told her that the baby was my biological child, we ended up having a great conversation, and I did become a contact person for her clients that wanted support for nursing twins (my older two children are twins)
I desperately wanted to say my kids came from my vagina, but didn't really think that was appropriate....
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#11 of 30 Old 10-08-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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In my opinion, the people that have asked me, "where are they from", are not doing so with any hostility. They just honestly thought my kids were adopted. And for whatever reason, they were interested enough to ask.
This...

Where we are, anyway, mixed-culture families are very unusual. The non-white kids are adopted. So to me it's...<shrug> People ask out of interest, and in the context of their experience which is pretty limited. I can get mad about it, or I can give an answer that will inform them, nicely, and their experience will suddenly be a little broader.
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#12 of 30 Old 10-09-2010, 12:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
This...

Where we are, anyway, mixed-culture families are very unusual. The non-white kids are adopted. So to me it's...<shrug> People ask out of interest, and in the context of their experience which is pretty limited. I can get mad about it, or I can give an answer that will inform them, nicely, and their experience will suddenly be a little broader.
I think it depends on the tone. I've been asked "were did they come from" and I've been asked "what nationality are your kids", the latter feels less offensive and I'm much more likely to answer in kind either way.

Now, being asked how much they COST...that kinda got me a little snarkytwitched.

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#13 of 30 Old 10-09-2010, 06:38 PM
 
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I am a white-American, my sons father is South Indian. HE is often mistaken for being African-American, simply because he has dark skin. I think it's silly, because he clearly looks Indian to me.. of course I lived in India for two years...

My son? Apparently, he looks Mexican. I have had SO MANY people ask him if he speaks Spanish. One recent uncomfortable moment.. I was visiting my sisters husbands family.. one of his distant relatives teaches immigrant kids in an after school program.. he would NOT stop talking to my son (he is not yet three) in Spanish. Like saying "Can you say Uncle in Spanish? It is Tio" and more..

My bright kid just mimicked the word back to him.. after about 30 minutes of this, my son mentioned his auntie in India and I was able to say "My ex is from India.. and my son was actually born there.."

I find it so weird that people think he is Mexican, but it happens a lot.

People in the store.. even if I am wearing Hijab (I am Muslim) still think he is Mexican. His daycare teacher asked him on the first day if he spoke Spanish.. etc
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#14 of 30 Old 10-13-2010, 01:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by muslimahmama View Post

My son? Apparently, he looks Mexican. I have had SO MANY people ask him if he speaks Spanish.
My sons are half Arab, and people make the same assumption with the oldest. I can't really blame them - there aren't a lot of Arabs where we live, but there are a lot of immigrants from Central and South America. He has the same skin tone and hair color. I've never been asked where he is from, but I have been asked if my husband is Mexican.

My other son is blond and fair. DH insists that he gets funny looks from strangers when the two of them are out alone together, like they are trying to size up whether he kidnapped a child. I think he might just be paranoid, though.
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#15 of 30 Old 10-13-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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We have the exact opposite situation from you, OP. DH is white American, I'm Indian and DS looks *just* like DH, right down to the blue eyes and dark blond hair. When he was younger, I was constantly mistaken for his nanny. My responses started getting pretty snarky at one point because I was so sick of being questioned about it every time we went somewhere.

Then, we spent lots of time outside over the summer and he tanned up some (enough to be called "olive" skinned, at least), plus he calls me "Mama" now, so I don't get the nanny question as much anymore. The funny thing is that now, I baby-sit a friend's child (who is also white, blue-eyed, and has dark blond hair) during the day and most people assume that he & DS are both my kids. I constantly get questions about how far apart they are and when I say "Two months," I get a lot of

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#16 of 30 Old 10-13-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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People ask me this all the time, only it's, "Where are you from?/What's your nationality? I just had to ask you because your daughter has a very interesting skin color."



I usually just say something like, "We're American." If they continue, I may add in a tone of voice that suggests I think this is an inappropriate topic for new acquaintances that, "I am ethnically mixed, and so is her father." I refuse to get more personal than that, naming countries and explaining marriages. If the person asking wants to get out their own genealogy, then we can have a conversation, but not before.

Of course, you could always pull a Don Draper. "I'm from the Midwest. We were taught it's not polite to talk about yourself." Hah.
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#17 of 30 Old 10-14-2010, 06:32 AM
 
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Happens occasionally since I'm Swedish and wife is Mexican. Some ask if they are adopted even though their skin is not very dark. I never felt questions like these were rude, more about being curious and doing small talk.

People around us are likely confused about our origins at times since our kids, 6.5 and 4, are already tri-lingual and we use all three languages between us.

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#18 of 30 Old 10-15-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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DH is Indian (but born in UK, moved to Canada as a child) and I am white Canadian.

DS1 looks like a mix -- light brown skin, brown hair, light brown eyes. People have asked if his father is Italian, Spanish, Mexican, South American, Indian...

DS2 def looks like my family -- light skin, light brown hair, very blue eyes.

When I am out with both boys, I have been asked if they have different fathers. Nice comment! I said to one lady "Are you asking if I cheated on my husband?". I think I'd rather be asked if they were adopted.

When all four of us are together, it is obvious that both boys look like DH, just with very different colouring.

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#19 of 30 Old 10-17-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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I am pale-American , and my husband is South Indian. He's on the less-dark side for South Indian (he's one of the palest in his family), shaves his head and has a mustache & goatee. He is frequently mistaken for African-American, Middle Eastern or Hispanic (usually Mexican or Puerto Rican), depending on context. Living in the NYC area, there are lots of people of all different backgrounds - most frequently people have assumed African-American around here. We were vacationing a few years ago in Puerto Rico, and people routinely assumed he was local (or Nyorican, ha ha) and spoke to him in Spanish. The funniest part about that is that I was a Spanish major in college although I'm rusty, so I understand more Spanish than my husband does.

Our son is visually a hybrid of the two of us. We've had several people who hadn't seen him in a while tell us that just in the last week (he's 15mo). He tans with the least amount of sun, but gets pale during the winter, so our skin tone tends to be more different during the summer. I have blonde hair and hazel eyes and pale skin, and my son has medium-brown hair and brown eyes with a hint of green. But I definitely noticed that during the summer, last summer and this one, strangers have asked me questions about him. People don't assume I'm the nanny (I had wondered before he was born if that would happen), but I've been asked, "He's so cute! Is his Daddy dark?" I've also been asked, "His skin tone is lovely! What is his background?" Which personally I think is the somewhat more polite way to ask.

I dated a guy briefly back in high school who was half Indian, half pale-European-American. He had light-medium brown hair and a cinnamon-toned complexion. Both he and his sister were gorgeous. I find it interesting that I ultimately wound up having a mixed Indian-European kid! I am excited to watch him grow up, in a lot of ways, not the least of which to see how his looks evolve over the years.

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#20 of 30 Old 10-17-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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DH insists that he gets funny looks from strangers when the two of them are out alone together, like they are trying to size up whether he kidnapped a child. I think he might just be paranoid, though.
I have a friend who is Creole (a mix of French and African) and has one child with her first husband (black) and another with her second (white). Her older son looks solidly African-American, and her little daughter like Shirley Temple. They are also pretty far apart in age, 20-something and 5. One day when the son was babysitting and took his little sister to the mall, he was stopped and questioned by a mall guard for that very reason . And this was in the Seattle area, which is very liberal!

So your husband may not be paranoid...

I do get asked sometimes about where I got dd, but I don't get offended by it. Like cappucinosmom said, it's natural for people to be curious about something they don't see often. I actually joke about it with dd and with others in front of dd, so she just thinks its funny. But I'm a white woman with an Asian-looking child. All that happens with me is people think I adopted her from China. I think I might feel differently if I were a dark-skinned man with a light-skinned child.
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#21 of 30 Old 11-11-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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My son is biracial(dad is black, I am white) and I would get asked if he took after his dad when he was young. I think that was some people's polite way of asking if he was mine or not. When he first started high school, he said he was asked a lot "what" he was by other students. He just told them he was mixed and usually got comments about how nice his skin was or how pretty his eyes were(they are bright blue). Doesn't seem to bother him at all.

 

BTW, he is also mistaken for hispanic at times. I had to teach him how to say "No habla espanol" when he was younger, because spanish speaking people would just start speaking to him in spanish. I guess he does look kind of Puerto Rican....

 

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#22 of 30 Old 11-14-2010, 05:40 AM
 
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I am white and dh is half philipino/white.  Everyone thinks dh is mexican, even people who actually are from mexico.  Our youngest ds looks more like dh but people often say how much ods looks like me and then ask where ods got his curly blond hair in a way that makes me think they are questioning whether dh is his real father or if I have a secret, lol.


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#23 of 30 Old 11-30-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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I am from Northern Europe and dh is from the USA (mixed European ancestry). The funny things is that I have got so many comments about how dd looks like a typical child of my country. I answer "Yeah... and it took a foreign dad to have that." 

 

I have also got dozens of comments about how dd looks just like me. In reality, she looks more like my sister and my dh (good thing I know I gave birth to her... hah). Somehow the blue eyes and blonde hair just make people make this comment. Yet, when I am somewhere with my sister and dd, people automatically think she is my sister's daughter. (How much "just like me" can she look then... esp., as my sister and I don't really look alike, other than being blonde and blue eyed.)


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#24 of 30 Old 12-01-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post

Now, being asked how much they COST...that kinda got me a little snarkytwitched.


As an adoptive mom of a biracial little guy, I get this question from time to time and it never fails to floor me.  Uh... why would that possibly be ANY of your business?  I didn't buy him from Baby GAP for Pete's sake!!! 

 

 

I just answer:  Oh, he's priceless.  :)


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#25 of 30 Old 12-01-2010, 02:40 PM
 
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I'm preparing myself for this in the future. DH is a very dark Filipino and I'm very white. Right now baby is a good mix of us both, but I'm sure when he's older and outside a lot, he'll darken up like his dad and won't look like me!

 

And jaw.gif to "You shouldn't breastfeed other people's babies." Hahaha. Did she think you picked up some random baby and latched it on?


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#26 of 30 Old 12-17-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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I just wanted to agree with the pp who said to watch your reactions in front of your kids. I'm ethnically indian, my parents are from india, my grandparents, cousins etc are all indian. But I have pale-ish skin and green eyes. I developed quite a complex because people were constantly commenting on how I don't look like I belong in my family.


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#27 of 30 Old 12-22-2010, 06:21 AM
 
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I'm American/white (brown hair, haze eyes, fair skin) and my Husband is Kurdish from Northern Iraq (Black curly hair, dark brow eyes, & naturally tan complexion) & I lived there with him & his family for 2 years. Our son was born there & was about 1 when we went to the US Embassy in Baghdad to get DS's passport and certificate of US citizenship. The embassy worker who was trying to take DS's passport photo said, "He is so cute! He looks just like an American boy!" I just had to laugh and tell her that's because he IS an American boy. He got my lighter coloring & brown hair and his Daddy's dark brown eyes.

 

DS is getting a little sister very soon & I'm hoping she gets Daddy's beautiful black curls and my hazel eyes!

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#28 of 30 Old 12-24-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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What I find interesting is I *RARELY* get this from random white strangers in stores and the like.  But I think where I am, people tend to wait till they know you a bit first...I *do* get "what nationality is their dad?" once in awhile from people who've just met us and hear their last name.

 

What I *do* get is, there's a fairly goodsized population of recent immigrants and refugees from African countries here.  DH is from Sudan.  I *often* get African people asking which country the kids' dad is from.


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#29 of 30 Old 12-28-2010, 06:16 PM
 
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I have to admit, dh (Ethiopian) and I (white American) will sometimes ask.  Not to be snarky or anything like that.  We can both spot people who are from Africa and usually their children in a crowd. We are intrested because families like ours are unusual and we are always looking for people who can relate to us and understand the particular issues we face as a mixed-race and cross-cultural family.  Now, if it's me asking, and my dh and kids arent around, you might just assume I'm just a white ignoramus who's spouting nonsense for no reason. biglaugh.gif

 For dh it's a sense of "Ah, someone who knows what it's like to be an African in America.  Maybe we can relate!!!!!  Stay right here, I'm going to see if I can catch them and "friend" them".  lol.gif  I did once outdo him by spotting an Ethiopian family at the museum when he didn't.  He wanted me to explain, and I could only say that I "just knew", because that's what it was.  We went on to enjoy some good times with that family. 

 

The last time someone aske me where my kids were from, I was really glad she did, because it turned into a great conversation.  She was a white, middle-class, middle-aged lady, curator at a small local art museum.  She was *so* excited by my positive response to her, because, as she told me, her son was getting ready to propose to his girlfriend who was from East Africa and she was soooooo excited about it.  Not many people in this area would understand that excitement.  So we had a great conversation about that area of the continent and how awesome and beautiful it is etc, etc.  If I'd snarked at her we would have missed out, and I'm glad I didn't. 

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#30 of 30 Old 01-17-2011, 12:26 PM
 
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As a white Momma with two adopted children of color I get not only, "Where are they from?" but "What are they?" and "When did you get them?" 


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