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#1 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Last week, my dd (4.5 yrs), ds (16 months) and I went to Babies R Us for a registry gift. The (white) cashier asked, "Are those your children?" I said, "Yes." Then she paused and said, "They're beautiful." Of course, I said thanks.

My dd then asked, "Mom, why did she ask if we are your children?" :
I said, "Maybe she didn't hear you call me mom," and I shrugged. The cashier then said, "Oh, well lots of people come in here with their friends' children. That's why I asked."

I think she may have thought that I was the caretaker. I'm AA and my children are biracial. I get that a lot. People aren't sure and they tip toe around the issue, but this was the first time I've been asked outright like that.

Has that happened to any of you? How did/do you deal with it? Would you put your baby in this t-shirt?

Baking,, Chuck Taylor Wearing, , SAHMom of 2.
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#2 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 02:36 PM
 
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I can't view your link at this time because I am work. However, my first instinct would be to say "Why do you ask?" Even if they weren't your children, how is her question even relevant? I think it is one to thing to say "your children are beautiful" but quite another to ask if they are yours.

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#3 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's a t-shirt that reads:

she's my mommy,
not my nanny.

Baking,, Chuck Taylor Wearing, , SAHMom of 2.
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#4 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 03:19 PM
 
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(I'm white, my kids are biracial)

I've been asked if I was my kids nanny before.

I don't think most people mean any harm by at. At worst, it's usually just their mouth moving before their brain gets a handle on what's coming out.
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#5 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 03:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's just that my dd is old enough to understand what people are saying now, where before if it ever came up, she was just oblivious. I think my reaction is more impressionable than what the other person says or asks, which is why I didn't make a big deal about it and pretty much shrugged it off.

My dd knows that I'm brown and that dh is white/peach and that she and her brother are light brown. It doesn't come up often, but when it does, those are the words she uses to describe us. She has no clue about race really at this point.

I really wish people would think before they speak. I remember years ago, a woman told me that I was "pretty for a black girl." She really thought it was a compliment.

I just wish I knew how to be more prepared for these types of situations.

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#6 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 04:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by olliepop View Post
It's a t-shirt that reads:

she's my mommy,
not my nanny.
It is a great statement excep,t I think you'll have to be prepared for the unsolicited questions and stares. Of course, then this will put you in the position of having to come up with additional responses. I agree that your response will be impressionable, which is why I again suggest, retorting in a matter of fact manner, "why do you ask?". As your children get older, will probably be faced with, "what are you?". Again, I see that as an irrelevant question that one shouldn't have to answer unless you want to.

afro.jpg
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#7 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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16 years ago when my eldest was born, that happened to me all the time, it was maddening. I am cocoa brown and he looked pretty white, actually at the hospital he was born in, one nurse insisted he was not my baby when they brought him and triple checked my wrist band and his band. By the time ds was 3.5 some kid told him he was adopted because I could not be his Mama because I was Black :.

Needless to say race has always been a issue in my family, at this point I am much more mellow and chalk it up to ignorance. I have a 2 yo dd and while she is lighter than me, she looks so much like me that no one has asked those questions.

However at this stage in life if someone did, I would probably get less upset about it. Though I will be honest if someone did ask me now, I probably would crackwise and say something silly like no, I am not the nanny I bought this kid, but I have a pretty b-itchy sense of humor, so I know not everyone does.

Olliepop, the comment you got about being pretty for a Black girl brought up a memory I have from HS, cute popular white boy said that to me :, talk about whether I should be pissed or flattered.

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Mothering since 1992...its one of the many hats I wear.
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#8 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 09:46 PM
 
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This has happened to me. I'm biracial (B & W) and DH is a pale white. DD favors DH (you can see her pic in my siggy). I have been asked if she was mine more than once. To be fair, I do live in a neighborhood where there are lots and lots of nannies, usually of another race/nationality from the children in their care. But it still hurt my feelings to be asked if DD was mine.
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#9 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 10:30 PM
 
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This has happened to me. I'm biracial (B & W) and DH is a pale white. DD favors DH (you can see her pic in my siggy). I have been asked if she was mine more than once. To be fair, I do live in a neighborhood where there are lots and lots of nannies, usually of another race/nationality from the children in their care. But it still hurt my feelings to be asked if DD was mine.

afro.jpg
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#10 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 10:37 PM
 
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Aw, thanks.
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#11 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 10:47 PM
 
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Yeah, this has happened to me a couple of times. (I'm white, the kids are bi-racial.) Once was at a Chick-fil-A, and it was an AA woman who asked me. We went back a couple of months later, and she remembered who we were, and gave us great service. I think she was really embarassed.
A couple of other times, too, usually in wealthier parts of town. DH gets really mad when I tell him people ask, so sometimes I don't bother mentioning those exchanges to me. I usually just look at the person with a smile and answer, "They sure are!"
It was kind of cute at the park last week when a middle school aged boy with autism was trying to figure out why I had Black kids....I could tell he was really trying to fit the family picture into his schema.
"Is this your daughter?"
"Yes, she is."
"But she is black, and you're white." Long pause.
"Is the father black then?"
"Yes, my husband is black."
Another long pause. "So do you have any white children?"
"No, I don't."
"Do you have other black children?"
"Yes, that is my son right over there."
"And he's black." This is a statement. "Is his father black too?"
"Yes, he is."
"But you don't have any white children, only black children?"
"That is right, all of my children look black."
"Hmmm, okay."

And we walked on to the next toy. In that case, I thought it was kind of cute, as I used to teach middle school special ed, and I could just see the wheels turning.

But for everyone else, just a cheery yes, while thinking, you idiot.
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#12 of 222 Old 05-06-2008, 10:50 PM
 
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We're not biracial, but DH is very white guy and I'm olive skinned and my oldest two have olive skin.
We where in a boutique years ago, DS was 6 and DD was 2, so the kids where just playing with DH while i was just looking around, and DD yelled "daddy!" and one of the workers asked DH,"Excuse me sir, are those your children?", and DH said, "Yes, why do you ask?", and then she said in a not very nice tone, "No offence sir but they're a little bit dark skinned to be your kids that's why i asked":

I'm also asked, "Why do you dye your daughter's hair?" she naturally has light blonde hair but some people think it doesn't "fit" with her skin color
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#13 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It happened again, yesterday at the library for storytime. The librarian explained to the children that they would be doing a Mother's Day craft. She looked out into the crowd and said, "It should be fine. I only see caregivers, grandmothers, and Dads."

I didn't want to raise my hand and say, "Oh no, I'm their mom," so when she came around to give my dd the craft supplies, I said to my dd, "I promise I won't peek at my card."

Passive aggressive? Maybe. Effective? Yes.

The librarian said, "I'll help you do it so Mommy won't see."

I also thought that it could be offensive to a "grandmother" who was actually just an older mom. People make a lot of assumptions.

Baking,, Chuck Taylor Wearing, , SAHMom of 2.
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#14 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 08:20 AM
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i saw this as it was the first post just now. my whole family is pudgy and pasty.

i ran into a multicultural family the other day and did not, at first, identify them as a family. they have ten children all adopted and of different races. some of them were speaking different languages. they were all working at the family's booth at the farmers market.

i'm not sure what people could do to avoid these mix ups. what would you like people to do? of course there are rude ways to ask and kind ones but i do not look at every group of children with an adult or a pair of them and identify them as a family unless proven otherwise. i ask because i do know what it's like to have a life people question ALL THE TIME (DS is autistic. it's always does he play an instrument, can he talk, are you miserable) and it can be tiering but i did run into a situation the other week when good information about how to ask politely would have been helpful.

i know it sounds selfish but i don't have time to approach every single meeting with a person without the shorthand of my schema's and doubt i could free myself from the need for shcemas in general but having one for ascertaining who is mom and who is not without being a butt head would be good.

and yeah, i'd buy the shirt.
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#15 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 08:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by olliepop View Post
Has that happened to any of you? How did/do you deal with it? Would you put your baby in this t-shirt?
We probably won't have this situation, so I don't know how I'd feel...it's more likely that someone will assume my kids are white, and say something inappropriate to them. I've had a couple people make jokes about Puerto Ricans RIGHT IN FRONT of me and my kids, totally unaware. Ugh.

I absolutely love those shirts though! The Multi Culti Cutie and the I Can Whine In Two Languages... Awesome!

~ Colleen ~ Joyful Unschooling Pagan mama to hearts.gifenergy.gifsuperhero.gifjog.gif and babyf.gif
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#16 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 08:58 AM
 
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This used to happen with my oldest dd ALL THE TIME.
No one believed she was mine. Someone made her cry once, when she was about 4 or 5, because he kept insisting I got the wrong baby from the hospital. He kept saying, "Somewhere out there, there's a Black woman with a biracial baby who is in a lot of trouble with her man"
Once, I was out shopping with DD, her dad, and her dad's wife (who is Black) and everyone kept telling DD's step-mom how pretty her daughter is. Even now, (she's 25), people ask if she's adopted or my step-daughter.
It used to hurt my feelings (Hey, I wanted some credit for my pretty daughter!) but I finally came to the conclusion that she really doesn't look Irish, haha!, and it may not be people's business to get in my business, but I have no control over other folks lack of judgment or their assumptions and I was wasting energy getting offended over it.
SMILE! and say, yes, she's mine! Yes, she's gorgeous! And she is MINE!
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#17 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 09:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by thebarkingbird View Post
i saw this as it was the first post just now. my whole family is pudgy and pasty.

i ran into a multicultural family the other day and did not, at first, identify them as a family. they have ten children all adopted and of different races. some of them were speaking different languages. they were all working at the family's booth at the farmers market.

i'm not sure what people could do to avoid these mix ups. what would you like people to do? of course there are rude ways to ask and kind ones but i do not look at every group of children with an adult or a pair of them and identify them as a family unless proven otherwise. i ask because i do know what it's like to have a life people question ALL THE TIME (DS is autistic. it's always does he play an instrument, can he talk, are you miserable) and it can be tiering but i did run into a situation the other week when good information about how to ask politely would have been helpful.

i know it sounds selfish but i don't have time to approach every single meeting with a person without the shorthand of my schema's and doubt i could free myself from the need for shcemas in general but having one for ascertaining who is mom and who is not without being a butt head would be good.

and yeah, i'd buy the shirt.
It's early so I'm not thinking clearly yet, but can you explain a little better why you might ever need to ask? I mean, what type of situation do you need to know? I'm just thinking that when complete strangers ask me if I'm DD's mom, it's just to satisfy their own curiosity. I suppose there's nothing wrong w/ that, but most people that know me, or are getting to know me, know that DD is mine. I see your point, though. I don't really know of a PC to way to ask. But I'm just wondering how often it needs to be asked.
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#18 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 11:49 AM
 
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Im white, DDs are white and I still get asked if they are mine, some people say but you look so young others say they are adorable I think is just people making conversation.
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#19 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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earthgirl, I agree that part of the problem is the fact that people feel the need to ask. Sometimes when they ask me “The Question” I have to wonder why it even matters to them if DD is adopted or not. But it’s kind of a moot point because yes, they DO ask, and sometimes it’s done politely and sometimes not.

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Originally Posted by sevenkids View Post
... it may not be people's business to get in my business, but I have no control over other folks lack of judgment or their assumptions and I was wasting energy getting offended over it.
SMILE!
YES!

Me, I try to respond the same way each time. When someone asks “Oh, is she adopted?” I smile and say “My husband is Japanese. She sure takes after her daddy!” When someone asks “Is she yours?” I smile and say “My husband is Japanese. She sure takes after her daddy!” When someone asks “Ooooh, did you have to go overseas to get her?” I smile and say… Lather, rinse, repeat.

I do it because each person is asking me for the first time. I’ve heard The Question many, many times, but for them it’s the first. Being rude or snappy will just make me appear rude and snappy. Also, it helps me in general to respond politely and calmly, since I’ll be the one who has to deal with getting angry at the asker and it would upset my equilibrium (and now that she's old enough to start to understand, DD’s as well.) My hope is that answering nicely each time will also help DD deal with The Question as she gets older; hopefully, she'll learn how to answer calmly, and not let it upset her either.

"Mama, thank you for my little brother!" DD 7/05 DS 6/09
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#20 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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I am seriously, seriously tempted to get that shirt. I was assumed to be my oldest son's nanny one time when walking through the area of town DH works (really rich). I just gave an icy cold glare and said "I'm his mother". My younger son is even paler than DH (he's white, I'm interracial and brown) with blue eyes. That shirt would be perfect.

Don't trust anyone under 5! Mom to 3 boys under 5. Blogging to save my sanity.
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#21 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 12:33 PM
 
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Olliepop -
I think you are right on key when you mention that your reaction is the most important to your DD. You might want to reherse a few different answers depending on the situation and the exact phrasing of the question, so that you won't be stumbling for your answer at the time.
Your daughter will be asked if you are her mom when you aren't around as she gets older. She will need to have heard you answer proudly, without apology many times so that she feels as strong about her family.

DP and I are both white women and DS is AA. I've got good answers for "Is he yours?" (though few people ask when he's hanging off my body saying "mommy, mommy, mommy!") - It's "Does he look like his father?" that I don't have a good 1-liner for... we have no daddy in our family and I never met either of his birthparents. I do know some lesbian moms to say something like "I don't know, I only met him one time and it was all such a blur!" We don't have many other POC in our family, or else I could say something like "We have a bunch of those great brown eyes in our family" to deflect.

When I see other pairs of adults/children in the park (for example), I assume that they are parent/child until proven otherwise. I do seem to be a magnet for nannys, though - they come to chat me up to figure out where I fall in relationship to DS.

Good luck!
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#22 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 12:58 PM
 
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It's "Does he look like his father?" that I don't have a good 1-liner for... we have no daddy in our family and I never met either of his birthparents. I do know some lesbian moms to say something like "I don't know, I only met him one time and it was all such a blur!"
up
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#23 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 02:09 PM
 
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My daughter looks exactly like her dad. Looking at their baby pictures you can't tell them apart. Well, I do not look like my husband and therefore my daughter didn't use to look much like me (that's changed a little now).

So I've been asked a couple of times and usually answered: "I'm not sure she's mine. I'm wondering did my husband cheat on me."

I wasn't really happy when asked if I am the grandmother.
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#24 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think you are right on key when you mention that your reaction is the most important to your DD. You might want to reherse a few different answers depending on the situation and the exact phrasing of the question, so that you won't be stumbling for your answer at the time.
Fantastic Idea! Let's brainstorm and let's pretend the children are with us so our response is for them too. We need answers for:

Are those your children?

Are you the nanny?

I guess they look like their dad, huh?

Are they adopted?

Baking,, Chuck Taylor Wearing, , SAHMom of 2.
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#25 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 04:34 PM
 
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So I've been asked a couple of times and usually answered: "I'm not sure she's mine. I'm wondering did my husband cheat on me."
.
laughup hilarious!
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#26 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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Great thread...

Fortunately, I never get asked whether ds is mine, but I do pick up on people's stares whether subtle or not (that is, eyes on me...eyes on ds...eyes on me... eyes on ds... you get the pic, right?) I can see on their faces that they want to ask. Interestingly, my husband (Czech-Irish; Caucasian American) is asked frequently whether ds is his - most think he's adopted. Others have made more unsavory comments like, "Asian people are good people..." Sure, upon first glance a statment like this seems complementary, but it's so fundamentally problematical. For me, I hate when people assume that all Asians look alike or know each other. While waiting to get into the children's museum, if there is an Asian family in line ahead or behind me, the customer service person will nearly always ask US "are you together or separate?" Here's the thing that bothers me the most: when I address this issue with the customer service person and say (in a sensitive and gentle manner) "I would appreciate if you didn't make assumptions based on race..." I always get a defensive response and it makes me feel awful and worried that progress is out of sight. Here's the most fascinating experience, IMO: sometimes other korean speaking koreans assume I don't speak the language and, therefore, make unpleasant remarks, in Korean, about my family being biracial. The thing is, I understand them!!!

Ignorance and intolerance comes in all shapes and sizes.
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#27 of 222 Old 05-07-2008, 08:52 PM
 
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It happens to me all the time. I look very young (I was 20 when I had DD but routinely got asked if I lost my parents...) so people would assume I am the big sister or baby sitter even if she did look like me. The thing is, I am very pale white while my DD is half congolese, but looks like a dark skinned Indian. I have encountered so many people, in so many circumstances, who did not believe she came out of me. They usually stop questioning it when she starts pulling on my shirt and asking for milk. A usual conversation goes a little like this
-Where is she from?
-My uterus
-oh...are you sure, she is Indian right?
-couldn't she be half Indian?
-NO! She is definitely 100% Indian.
-Well, she is not Indian at all.
-yeah, right...

I also had problems when I left her for a few minutes at the IKEA childcare thing while shopping. The woman was worried I might be some crazy kidnapper or something. I can see why she would it take it seriously, so I thought it was hilarious.

Single mom to E (2004) and D (2010)
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#28 of 222 Old 05-08-2008, 12:15 AM
 
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I also had problems when I left her for a few minutes at the IKEA childcare thing while shopping. The woman was worried I might be some crazy kidnapper or something. I can see why she would it take it seriously, so I thought it was hilarious.
That's interesting about IKEA...

Well just the other day I was walking around the neighborhood with my DC and got asked this. We were passing a woman and she first said how cute the kids are etc. and then came the "are you the baby-sitter, or are they yours?" question! DD is 2 and understands everything so I wonder what she thought of this woman asking "are they yours?"

When DD was a baby I got "my what a tan she has" and "where did she get those curls?" DH was out with her one time and a woman said to him "I guess she has her mother's complexion", which is funny b/c uh, no she doesn't! She doesn't have mine or Dh, it is her own!

Oh, I just remembered a NICU nurse asked where she got her dark hair from! Some sensitivity please? My DD was born 10 weeks early and you're wondering why her hair is black and mine is blond?

Sorry if I am rambling or off topic but the NICU thing reminded me about the pediatrician. When DD was born he came to NICU to meet us. She was very pale with black, straight hair. Dr. hadn't met DH. Fast forward to our first appointment after coming home from NICU about 2 months later. DD was now darker and her hair was beginning to curl. The dr. looked shocked when we came in. Again, DH wasn't with us and the ped asked "what ethnicity is your husband?" I don't know if I was just being overprotective/paranoid but my first thought was "if you knew she wasn't 100% white does that mean you wouldn't have had her as a patient?" OK, sorry to go OT...
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#29 of 222 Old 05-08-2008, 01:07 AM
 
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I'm white and my boys are biracial. I never get asked the "are they yours" question--we live in a very p.c. area. But I often notice people giving us the surreptitious once-over and doing some silent calculating. I swear I can see the lightbulb go on in a person's head when they figure out that they are "my kids" and that daddy must be Asian.

A few years back I was at the park with ds#1 and I spotted a blonde woman with three kids who were hapa just like my son. I was intrigued just because dh and I know tons of asian woman/white man couples but seldom meet white woman/asian man pairs like us. I attempted a little small talk and said "oh, your son is so good on the monkey bars" or whatever, to which she said, kind of annoyed "uh, I'm the nanny".

You really never know.
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#30 of 222 Old 05-08-2008, 01:21 AM
 
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My husband (not white) is the one who gets this-- I don't think anyone assumes he is their dad. Even my DD's teacher asked "who's that?" when she saw her with my DH. Most of our children are assumed to be white except for one DD who looks ambiguous-- and with her, I am the one who is asked "Where did you adopt her from."

Maybe I shouldn't but I find it funny! I just laugh and say her dad is not white, or, she;s not adopted.

I do worry that my DH, since he is never assumed to be their father, might get stopped and asked questions or somehow be under suspicion when he is out alone with them. I started to get paranoid about this after reading a story of two white gay dads who were stopped by police when traveling with their AA adopted daughter. I guess when there is a man involved, people might be more likely to be suspicious?
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