Monday, June 23, 2014

And Then My Brain Exploded....

My kids look almost nothing like me. Like....at all. In fact people will say to me all the time "oh my gosh, your daughter is so beautiful! She looks NOTHING like you!"

Awkward....

A few weeks ago while at the park, a woman walked up to me, pointed to my children, and proceeded to thank me for adopting "those poor Hispanic kids." Um.....what? First off, as wonderful as adoption is, I didn't adopt them. Secondly, they aren't Hispanic (not that I would care if they were). Third, who says that to someone? There are like five things strange and wrong with that conversation right there. I was like "Um...yea, they are biologically mine, they are Native American, and.....yea." I didn't even know what to say. The woman looked me up and down and exclaimed "no way. You couldn't possibly have made a dark baby."

I do not make pale babies

My ex was almost entirely Native American and my kids inherited the beautiful brown skin of that ethnicity. With the exception of inheriting my light(er) brown hair, they have all the dark features of their Native American ancestors. They were born with their ancestor's distinctive almond shaped eyes; eyes so dark that I couldn't even see where their pupils were, which is in obvious stark contrast to my bright blue eyes.

Black baby eyes



They have lightened up a bit in four years

They have so much Native American in them that when they were born I had their umbilical cord stem cells banked (cryogenically frozen) because if they were to ever need a stem cell transplant for cancer treatment or anything, it might be near impossible to find a donor that has that much true blooded Native American in them mixed with quite a bit of Irish.

Daughter's arm next to mine; complete with "rock star" stamp

So at the park, after I uttered some fairly incomprehensible comment back to the woman who thanked me for adopting poor Hispanic kids, I simply walked away. Still to this day I have yet to come up with an appropriate response. I get asked quite a bit if I am their mother and stranger yet, this is the THIRD time someone has thanked me for adopting my own children. Three times and I still don't know how to respond, because hello....it's awkward....

What seems to happen is that if I take the time to explain that their dad was Native American, it inevitably sets off a series of questions that I don't want/need to answer.

To make matters worse, I've had several racist comments thrown their direction (and then my brain exploded). In fact, when I had my daughter, someone told me "you ruined your family blood line with your dark skinned baby."

What. The. Hell.

When my kids ask me why they don't look like me, it's the perfect opportunity to explain to them how people come in all different ethnicity's; yet when adults just assume that we can't be related....I find myself speechless.

Not only am I extremely jealous of my kids constantly tanned looking skin, I actually think it is really neat that they carry such a strong bloodline to an ethnicity/heritage that is fading away.

Suggestions? This is just so strange to me that I, even in my infinite bank of crazy comebacks, have yet to find anything appropriate to say and am left there with my mouth hanging open. I know my kids are darker than me, it's quite obvious, but having only had the experiences of a whiter than white person, this is new territory for me. I have beautiful Hispanic, Puetro Rican, and African American friends, many of whom do not have children who look like them either, and they haven't heard half the crazy comments that I have from other people. I often wonder if it's because I am "white" that strangers think it's ok to talk racism with me, like I won't be as offended because of my lack of melanin.

How do I shut down the conversation and move on? I want to be firm, yet polite when tolerable, but in no way accepting of what they are saying. Anyone have any suggestions?

36 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear that Eden, those adults are jerks! Maybe just say firmly: I am their biological mother. Lucky your daughter has your pretty curly hair, although I know you straighten it. You know, it is very rare but possible for two black parents to have a (non albino) white baby! The racist comments and assumptions they must get. Another thing that surprises people, is that black people can have natural soft blonde hair (aboriginal Australians). People need to learn their stuff first of all, and then learn that you just don't ask people those things, I agree.

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    1. Aw thanks :) I have heard of that before, black parents having a non albino white baby, I think I saw it on some news show. Genetics are an interesting thing! Yea, I bet they hear quite a few comments. :(

      A family is a family these days. Some families come with two moms, two dads, single parents, groups of parents, adopted, surrogates, bi racial, and more. A family is a family, enough said.

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    2. Wait... "groups of parents " is sketchy

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    3. Some people parent in a group setting. Polygamists, polyamorous family's, divorced and remarried couples, those kinds of things.

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  2. This happens all the time. I have a friend who is from the Baltic area of Russia and she has dark skin, hair and eyes. Her ex husband was a blond blue eyed German. Her kids look just like her husband and living in Hamburg she people always assume she's the nanny because of her Russian accent. People are not educated on a race or ethnicity so they make ignorant comments. There isn't much you can do about it, just tell people those are your kids.

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    1. Oh yea, adding an accent on top of it, I could (unfortunately) totally see that happening. (Shakes head) You will have to ask your friend what her best response line is lol!

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  3. Tell them you're an albino. Say they're not your kids, you're the nanny. Pretend that you kidnapped them, hurriedly ask the person to forget they ever saw you, and hustle the kids off like the cops are around the corner....

    Sorry, I know those aren't ACTUALLY helpful, but it's all I've got. Except for pushing the other person down, screaming invectives at them, then walking away. I like that option, too.

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    1. Haha!! Very valid answers!!

      Bail me out if I shove them down?

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  4. No helpful advice but there's a book series who's protagonist is half Irish, half Native American, and it is AWESOME. Linked here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/297929.Urban_Shaman
    It warms my bibliophile heart to know there are people out there who have the same heritage. :-)

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  5. I don't understand everyone's need to be so nosy.

    Sorry I don't have any advice. To be honest, I don't think there's really anything you can say other than, "Uh, they're mine. No, really, they are. Yes, biologically. I really did shove them out of my vagina. True story."

    As for that comment about you ruining your family's blood line...I just...WTF? That's one seriously messed up comment, but unfortunately is not surprising. I lived in an apartment complex in a VERY small town in Georgia in the early-mid 90s. The complex had a pool and there were a number of families there who would flip their shit of a black family came because they were afraid the black would "rub off" and get in the water and make all the white people dirty.

    Yes, they were serious.

    No, there's nothing you can say to racists like that. Walk away very quickly before you're faced with a murder charge.

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    1. Haha! "Why yes, I personally birthed those two heads. Award please."

      Yea, the family bloodline comment made my blood boil. Good grief I would kill for my kids everlasting tan!

      That is absolutely INSANE about people IN THE 90'S worrying that the "black will rub off." Good grief people, we send people to other planets yet we have some still on earth that are that stupid. Maybe we should drop them off on Mars.

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    2. Isn't it crazy? I remember getting ready to jump into the pool when I was 7 or 8 and some lady grabbed my arm while I was in mid-run (I honestly think I was lucky she didn't dislocate my shoulder she pulled me back so hard) and SCREAMED into my face, "What do you think you're doing? There are n******s in the pool! You don't want to get their black dirt on you!"

      I knew what the n-word was at that time considering the area I was living in, so I knew what she was saying. I pulled my arm from her grasp, told her she was crazy, and jumped into the pool to join a couple of friends.

      Unfortunately, that incident was only the first of several where I was literally manhandled for interacting with black kids, so my parents made it a rule that I could go to their houses or they could come to our apartment, but we couldn't play together in public. It sucked.

      I am all for shipping the idiots and violent criminals to another planet. We're overpopulated enough as it is. Just get rid of the ones who are a serious detriment to society.

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    3. And by idiots I meant racist idiots. Regular run-of-the-mill idiots can be entertaining sometimes.

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    4. WOWZERS!!! That is unbelievable!! I mean I know that racism is still alive but that is ABSOLUTELY INSANE!! Thankfully none of those racist idiots rubbed off on you!!

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  6. When people thank you for adopting children of a different ethnicity, in all seriousness, you should just say "Well that's a rude and racist assumption." They won't even know how to react. I just flat out tell people they're being racist when they make comments like that, and it's actually funny watching them try to justify it. And when people ask if you're their mother, there's nothing wrong with only saying "yes" and not engaging any further- I mean, who asks that?! Not cool, man. People are so WEIRD.

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    1. Not a bad line! You are right about watching people try to justify it. I've had a couple angry snap backs at people and their faces are priceless. I guess maybe I need to focus less on if I'm feeling comfortable and more on the fact that I shouldn't care if I make them uncomfortable

      I agree, people are weird!!

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  7. I never get this with my kids since they both look so much like me but my mom used to get it all the time with me because although we are both black I look nothing like her either in features or skin tone. My mom is extremely dignified and good at the" frosty polite make you feel like a fool" looks which is what she did when people questioned her about if I was her daughter. Her general answer was "She is my daughter, why do you ask?" It tended to shut people down really fast because no one wanted to actually explain the underlying racism that prompted the question.

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    1. Ha! Way to go momma! I need to work on my frosty tone :)

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  8. When I've gotten rude comments I respond by holding the other person's glance and then saying, "And what made you think that was an appropriate thing to say?" or some variation. Try being fat in America some day, you'll be called upon to justify your existence constantly. Other responses:
    -Excuse me?
    -Wow, that's a big assumption
    -Wow, that was rude.

    You are under no obligation to answer rude questions with truthful or helpful answers as long as you don't curse and aren't hostile.

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    1. "you'll be called on to justify your existance." While I don't like what it is refering too, I like the saying. Very applicable to so many things these days!

      Thank you for your tips!!

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  9. That was very smart of you to have your kids' stem cells frozen! Most parents don't think that far ahead. Your kids' Native American heritage is so special. Your daughter is beautiful, smart, and has her unique heritage. A small benefit that your kids could enjoy, if it's on your radar, is that many elite colleges and prep schools are eager for/ give preferential treatment to Native American kids, because there are so few Native Americans and they have a history of mistreatment. Are your kids registered with a tribe? That is a useful thing to have. Although, you would probably have to get paperwork or some proof from your ex-husband.

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    1. Thanks :) My ex pitched a FIT when I had it done for my son, he thought we only needed to do it for our daughter but that was one battle I was not going to lose. Thankfully I didn't :)

      I am trying to get them registered actually. I think my ex took all the genetics paperwork we had gathered. I actually had everything we needed and found them on the Dawes rolls. In order to register you have to be 1/16 and they were something way way higher than that...which I can't remember off hand because it's very math-y and I'm not good at math...

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  10. Eden, have you thought about switching your blog to a private domain? It's kind of like owning your house.

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    1. Eh, I'm comfy here :) I'm not very computer savvy so this makes it easy!

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  11. Ha. This entire post, only reverse for my son and I. The ex is Irish/English and roughly the color of paper with brown hair and blue eyes. I'm 100% Korean. Our son was born the color of paper, with red hair and grey/blue eyes (they've since darkened up!). When ignorance comes knocking, I usually just bitch-politely inform them that he's my biological kid and walk away.

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    1. Wow, I could see where that might get you some interesting comments! "the color of paper." Hahahaha. Thats funny. I'm going to say that I'm the color of tracing paper. Completely white and a little bit see through. ;)

      I'm going to have to try out my bitchy polite voice :)

      I will update you all next time I get the chance to use all of this great advice, which hopefully isn't for a long time!

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  12. Just look directly into their eyes, give them a big, warm smile (maybe even a gentle hand on their shoulder) and say, "you know, you should actually engage your brain before you speak!", turn and walk away.

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  13. I don't have much to add, as far as useful/witty comebacks to such awkward and implicatively racist comments. (Who are THEY to THANK YOU? Were they adopted, and thanking you on behalf of adopted kids? On behalf of the orphaned? The poor? Developing countries? Mankind? It's incredibly patronizing.) But I think it's a pretty beautiful thing that both you and your children will grow in a life where you have an extra large "lens" on life...where you all will have additional and deeper insight into human nature and the human psyche, because you have this extra load that many others don't have to deal with. Does that make sense? You gain strength from merely having to DEAL with these microagressions that your "aggressors" won't ever have. Speaking as a woman of color, I consider it a privilege, however exhausting it can be. You'll see and understand things they won't ever be able to. It's not even necessarily a character flaw on their part. It's a kind of luck, on your part. It's like understanding another language they don't speak.

    I apologize if I'm babbling. It's been a very long week, and I've had quite a large amount of wine. I love your blog.

    I guess my point is, your and your children's' experiences are giving you major points, as far as the aging and wisdom of the soul goes. Stupid people can sometimes make you smarter. Your children are beautiful, and they echo and reflect you, whether or not they physically resemble like you.

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    1. That's a good point about the thanking!

      You know what, you are right :) I always say that living through a lot of what I have had given me a unique perspective that not everyone gets to experience. Thank you for pointing out that this is just another thing that my kids and I will go through that will "widen our lens" on life :)

      I am very jealous of the large amounts of wine.

      Thank you for your sweet words

      *hugs*

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  14. Your story reminded me of an incident at Wal-Mart that I experienced. My daughter has a strawberry hemiangioma on her forehead above her left eyebrow. The lady behind me was asking questions about my daughter's spot when she says "at least you won't have to worry about her being kidnapped because they only take perfect looking babies." I just stared at her trying to comprehend what she just said. When she repeated it my brain exploded. I went off on her. Not sure what all I said but it ended with you ignorant bitch. She quickly went to find another check out line. I was shaking I was so furious. The check out lady asked if I was ok and apologized for the stupid lady. The nerve of some people. Thankfully my daughter's spot will go away as she gets older, it's already starting to fade, unfortunately there will always be stupid people.

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    1. Ah I would have FREAKED out too!! Some people, good grief (shakes head).

      My friends daughter had a HUGE hemangioma and it's pretty much faded completely. Like I think last time it was just a slightly pink mark in her skin, almost like a rug burn.

      At least the cashier sided with you! That always feels good :)

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  15. I am the white biological mom to two daughters who are half black and married my (white) husband who is the biological father to a boy and girl who are half Thai who we have full custody of. He also has two all white boys from his second marriage who we have half time. My poor kids spent years in school with kids asking about their "foster home." No one could quite ever figure us out and still have a hard time, especially when you throw our daughter's two year old into the mix who has a half white half black mom and a Mexican dad. We spent years being offended and sometimes still get riled up, but most of the time just watching the struggle on people's faces as they try to process us cracks us up. :-)

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    1. Haha, well I'm glad that you have a good sense of humor about it because yes, that would be funny to watch people try to figure that all out!! It can definitely be frustrating but at the end of the day, all you can really do is laugh (and hope you don't punch anyone!)

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