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Is That Your Baby?

When I first started making the rounds of Music Together classes and library playgroups, I’d hear these questions all the time: “Is that your baby?” “How often do you care for her?” “Do you do any evening babysitting?”

People asked because I was young. Ten years younger than any other mom in the room, but about the same age as the nannies who attended these events in the posh suburb we lived in.

For me, this was always a painful moment, but one easily solved. We moved into an urban neighborhood with younger parents, and I got older. Even though I’m still ten years younger than most of the moms on the playground, I don’t look like a kid with a borrowed baby anymore.

For moms whose skin doesn’t match their babies’, the questions never stop. Laden with bias about race and privilege, they rankle deeper and longer. Finding an answer that educates rather than strikes back is a delicate balancing act. Today’s Motherlode explores two mom’s search for the right words.

A white friend of mine still fields frequent questions about her 14-year-old daughter. No one wonders, now, if the girl is hers. Instead they ask, “Where did you get her?” or just launch into the story of how their cousin’s wife adopted a little girl from Africa.

My friend’s daughter isn’t adopted, though. She had her babies the old-fashioned way: getting knocked up by her husband. Who happened to be black.

Regardless of how you’ve come to parent a child whose race is different from your own, you’ll be asked a lot of questions. Motherlode’s contributor suggests asking some of your own, starting with, “Why did you ask me that?”

Are you part of an ethnically diverse family? How have you handled questions – innocent or otherwise – about your relationship to your kids?

Photo: *clairity*

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