My Child Is Bi-racial And People Don’t Think I’m Her Mother

Dear Ellen,

I am a white woman married to a Filipino man. Our daughter is two-years-old and adorable and my husband and I love her like crazy. The problem is that she looks very Asian and I am often asked by other parents if a.) she is mine b.) I am baby sitting or c.) she is adopted. It makes me so mad because I gave birth to her after 9 months of pregnancy! It’s hurtful to me that they assume she isn’t mine.

And even if I had adopted her it would be so upsetting to have strangers ask me if I was the mom. It’s none of their business and anyway, your child is your child no matter how she got to you. Plus, I know she hears these questions, too and I can’t believe that people don’t seem to realize that. It’s as if she wasn’t even there!

My question is what is the best way to handle this and what do I tell her if/when she asks why they don’t think I’m her mother?

Thanks, Kate

Hi Kate,

Wow. People can certainly be dense and clueless sometimes, can’t they? For some unknown reason some folks think they have the right to ask questions or make comments about incredibly personal subjects even when they hardly know the person they are talking to. When it comes to asking questions about kids many people just go for it without giving a lot of thought to how the question might feel to the one who’s being asked. Sad but true.

But you can handle it. You know who you are and who your daughter is. You are her mom regardless of your physical similarities or biological relationship, for that matter. Feel secure with that knowledge. And you may as well get used to the annoyance because you will probably continue to get questions like this for years to come.

But it wouldn’t hurt to have a few snappy comebacks up your sleeve either. So the next time someone asks whether you are baby sitting say, “No way! Who has the time? Since I had my daughter I haven’t had time to do ANYTHING!” That should give them pause. And if they ask “Is she yours?” You can say, “Last time I checked” or “Yeah and I’ve got the stretch marks to prove it, too.” In response to the “Is she adopted?” question try saying, “No, she was home grown” and leave it at that.

If you FEEL like giving a more complete or sincere answer that’s great but don’t think you owe them a long explanation. You don’t. I mean, you wouldn’t ask them whether their child came from a sperm doner would you?

One way to circumvent this from happening when you are meeting new friends or professionals for the first time is to simply take the lead and say, “Hi. I’m Kate and this is my daughter, Claire” before they have a chance to put their foot in their mouth. Then change the subject and hope for the best.

As far as your daughter’s feelings and questions go, be matter of fact. If she asks you why people always ask whether you are her mom just tell her that she looks a little more like her dad until people notice her smile or her laugh or her pretty little ears which look exactly like yours. As she gets older it will become clear to people that she is yours based on how she talks to you and how the two of you act together. Plus, people are less bold about the questions they ask once they know that a child is old enough to understand everything they are saying.

The best thing to do is try not to let these remarks get to you. Most of them are based on nothing more sinister than curiosity even though they come across as insensitive and rude. So take the high road and enjoy every moment with your wonderful new family.

We love getting all of your questions and want to give you everything that our combined brains have to offer. So keep sending them in! But if you are looking for a more personal touch with lots more detail and follow up, please visit us or and get the royal treatment. You deserve it, Mama!

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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2 responses to “My Child Is Bi-racial And People Don’t Think I’m Her Mother”

  1. Allie

    My boilerplate answer to any question which oversteps the bounds of privacy is: I beg your pardon. Said with just the right tone of imperiousness and shock, you can get anyone to back off any subject to which they have no need to know the answer. As a bonus you don’t even answer whatever offensive question was asked in the first place.

  2. Rachel Zahn

    Love it, Allie … that’s my response too.

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