Mom Stuff

Ask If She’s Mine

September 23, 2016

I finished my Rose Bowl jog, feeling rather accomplished. I had beat the heat and managed to keep my one-year-old daughter content in her stroller. I stooped down to tell her how proud of her I was, and it was then I noticed that she had only one shoe on.

After a frantic search, it became obvious that she had chucked it somewhere during the 3.3 mile stretch.

I braced myself to begin what would be a very warm and inconvenient search. Thankfully, I was saved the ordeal by the timely appearance of a kindly stranger.

She waved the shoe in the air as she ran up. I was super grateful, but she blew off my thanks; she was happy to help. She gushed at how sweet little Noé was. But when I smiled and thanked her, she frowned in surprise; “Is she yours?”

This wasn’t my first encounter of this kind. The first time it happened, I had blinked back innocently, wondering, “Who else’s would she be?” But several ignorant inquiries later it now took a lot of restraint not throw the shoe back at her sweet perplexed face.

I am aware that not everyone understands or can relate to the world’s current melting pot of racial diversity (which I for one think is wonderful), and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of curiosity. However, said curiosity should never be prioritized above the privacy and feelings of others. I recently had to comfort a friend devastated by careless comments over her adopted son of a different race. The concept of family is more than skin-deep.

“Yes, she is,” I answered the lady with a plastic smile. But here’s what I really wanted to say:

“Dear well-meaning but offensive stranger, it is clear that the shade of my skin is a lot darker than my biracial daughter’s. However, since I did carry her for 10 wonderful and grueling months, birth her into the world, and am committed to raising and protecting her with every fiber of my being, I do believe I qualify as her mother (just as I would even if she were adopted). And your shock, and insensitivity is, to put it mildly, off-putting!”

I must admit that it happened again a few days later; “Oh my gosh is she yours?” I had had it! I geared up to educate the kindly stranger with a few choice words, but she quickly followed with “You look so young!” Now that’s a comment I can get behind. 🙂

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  • Reply Vanessa Price September 23, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve been asked more than once if I was the nanny because my blonde haired, blue eyed daughter takes after my husband’s side of the family and not my dark haired, dark eyed Italian side. Yes, it is offending. But bravo for holding your tongue and forgiving others’ ignorance! Love you and your beautiful, sweet babe.

    • Nneka Gerstle
      Reply Nneka Gerstle September 26, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks, Vanessa! And thanks for sharing. We will continue to educate in love and with a (sometimes fake) smile on our faces 🙂

  • Reply Nicola September 23, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Love this article! i my self don’t have a biracial child but I have many friends that do and have told me similar stories. Ones where they ask if they are the nanny or babysitter! 😳
    Hopefully people open their minds and close their mouths!

    • Nneka Gerstle
      Reply Nneka Gerstle September 26, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      Thanks, Nicola! “Hopefully people open their minds and close their mouths!” Yes please!

  • Reply ono September 26, 2016 at 2:49 am

    Hi sweetie different complexities as a new mother. I’m a black man my daughter was so fair when she was born in a houston hospital the nurses all kept asking who the father was …and they kept asking me.

    • Nneka Gerstle
      Reply Nneka Gerstle September 26, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      Hi Ono! That’s crazy! Not at all what a new dad wants to hear. Hoping that we all learn to be more sensitive as the times evolve. Thanks for your comment, dads are definitely not left out of the conversation.

  • Reply Jenn September 26, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    Even if she’s adopted, she’s still 100% yours.

    • Nneka Gerstle
      Reply Nneka Gerstle October 5, 2016 at 6:09 pm


  • Reply Frida January 7, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    This is so my story. I’m dark skinned African and my half Jewish daughter was born bright and pink. Even I was surprised by how light she was and my family is full of mixed babies.

    I wore her for the first year and everyday someone would ask ” is that your baby?” always followed by “that’s your baby?!?!”

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