May 13, 2012

Yes, This Baby is Mine

Happy Mother's Day! In honor of this day, I am featuring a guest post from one of the feistiest, funniest,  most thoughtful and thought-provoking mom bloggers I know: Martha, from Momsoap. Thank you so very much, Martha, for sharing your experiences of being a mom on this Mother's Day.

Photo courtesy of
If you look at our features, my daughter looks exactly like me, not her dad. But most people don't notice it until they get to know us. Most people don't look past the color of our skin.

I'm white. My daughter is, as she puts it, "light brown." Her father is Nigerian, so he is very dark. I'm as waspy as they come, full-on European background and raised in west Texas.

But since becoming the parent to a biracial child, I've become accustomed to  the once hurtful, now simply, banal, question, "Is that your daughter?" Or, "Is she adopted?"

Yes, yes she is my daughter. And no. No, she is not adopted.

I carried her around for nine months. Spent 19 1/2 hours in painful labor, pushed her out and nursed her for a long, long time. She is fully mine.

I made her with him. And we are different colors. The conception doesn't seem to fully register with many people until they see us all together. Or get a glimpse of my daughter's dad, who is now my ex.

Over the past four years, I've been asked if my daughter is adopted; had strangers insinuate that I'm the nanny; poked fun at, until they realize I'm not joking, that she really is mine; and just been stared at in general.

All because my daughter and I have different skin colors.

If you look at us up close, I mean, stop, and look past our skin, we look very much alike. I've been told that my daughter is just a mini version of me, with brown skin and curly brownish/black hair. She is mine, through and through. It's difficult for me to see how people don't see it.

Yet, over and over again, we get questioned.

Once, we were at a funeral of a distant relative. My own flesh and blood looked me in the eye and said, "How long have you had her?"

As I bounced my baby in her Mei Tei, I thought it was a strange way of asking me how old she was, confused, I responded, "She's almost a year old." At that point, I had not yet learned to see how we looked to people outside my own frame of reference.

I had a baby. She was mine.

It never occurred to me that people would question my parentage. Until it started happening.

He went on to tell me that he and his wife as missionaries in third world countries had adopted some biracial children. Too.

Too. It was that word that sent my mind quickly to what he had assumed.

I laughed. "Oh, she's not adopted!"

Stammering for a moment he finally managed to spit out, "Uh, uh, OH! You mean your husband is African American?!"

Once he realized that I had indeed procreated with a man from another race, I thought it best not to bother correcting his assumption that we were also married (we were never married) and move into the realm of a hell-bound sinner who had sex outside of marriage. After all, I was at the funeral of Bible-thumping west Texas Christian. There was no point in asking for a prayer session to bless me away from the eternity of hellfire.

Not to mention, possibly confirming for him the stereotype that white women who sleep with black men are sluts. Yes, another small town Texas stereotype that I battled as a youngster when I began exploring men of different cultures, and had long forgotten after living for nine years in Detroit where mixed race couples were much more common, but still not without stereotypes.

Motherhood to a Biracial Child

Now that it's been a few years into motherhood of a biracial daughter, and I've worked out the basics -- like how to comb her unbelievably thick hair; how often to moisturize her skin; and managing to mostly ignore that mini punch to the gut when someone asks me if she's mine --  I realize that I am in a wonderfully amazing position here in between the racial discussions in our society.

Something I learned from a mentor years ago, and I'll share with you here today, is we do a great job with racial discussions here in the United States. We do the most important thing when it comes to relieving racial tension. We talk about it.

We may not always agree. But we talk. It's the most important thing. To not be afraid to talk about race and ethnicity. Because it's all around us.

And as a white woman, who grew up around lots of racism and negative stereotypes about people with brown skins, I know how and when to measure very subtle racism. I also know how to address to my own people, which is an important part of the talks.

And best of all, I have come to realize that there is an important place for the biracial family in the midst of racial conflicts.

We see both sides. We really do.

Since having my daughter I am truly and honestly able to look quickly past the exterior and see a whole person, no matter what color the skin, what kind of clothes they are wearing, and what side of town they live on.

Many people believe that we are already living in a post-racial society because we have a black president. Because we got rid of Jim Crow laws and because everyone has the right to vote.

But we are far from a post-racial society. There is still racism in our culture. And it's time we talk and try to see the other side. All of us. Because eventually, if you don't already, you will probably have someone in
your family who has different color skin than yours. And they probably won't be adopted.

Photo Courtesy of
Martha Wood lives in Austin, Texas where she is a single, self-employed, work at home mom. She runs a small social media business, and blogs as a freelancer. She also authors her own blog at where she writes about racism, attachment parenting, and just general motherhood.


  1. Great post! Martha, I love how you point out what a wonderful position multiracial families are to be a part of the discussion about race. Sometimes I feel like I can address things with other white people that a person of color could not - I might be heard in a different way or I am simply more likely to hear something ignorant or racist, because the person erroneously assumes it's okay to say in front of me.  The hard part for me is stepping up and having that conversation when it catches me off guard, because I am not good at being "confrontational" (can't think of a better word) with people. I use blogging as a way to have some of the discussion (as I know you do, too). I have many friends/readers who are in monoracial white families and hope sharing my experience will give people a different way of looking at things in a space that isn't confrontational.

    By the way, the first time I saw a picture of you and A I thought you looked VERY much like mother and daughter! Happy Mother's Day!

  2. Thanks Ellie! Since I am so outspoken, I've often had white friends come up to me quietly to ask about situations or racial questions. And yes, a lot of my readers are mono-racial family members and I like to think that my posts help them out a bit too. 

  3.  I wanted to read this all the way through, really I did.  But I stopped on the "fully mine" comment.  My adopted daughter is fully mine.  Yes, she has a birth mother and a foster mother, but that doesn't make her any less mine.  

  4.  Wow, Wendy, this is a good point and honestly, I
    didn't even think about the implications of my post on how it would make
    adoptive mothers feel. I don't mean to imply or assert that adoptive
    children are not fully the children their parents. I know that with
    adoption comes the same love and bonding that you can have with a
    biological child. I only know one adoptive mother and I see zero
    difference in the way she interacts with her three children. I hear the
    same pain and pride in her voice that I hear in the voices of biological
    mothers. I see the love in her eyes when she looks at her children.  


    There are two things that I am
    responding to with this post. One is the feeling of loss that people are
    essentially denying my pregnancy and labor. I carried my child inside
    my body. I birthed her through a long, painful labor. It is an
    experience that I am proud of, something I would do all over again. In a
    way, these experiences were part of my own rebirth, a birth into
    motherhood. I am sure that adoptive parents have experiences that do the
    same thing, but it is a totally different entry into parenthood.


    The other thing I'm responding to is the
    assumption that because we have different skin colors, there is no way
    she could be biologically mine. It is part of a systemic culture of
    racism that is part of my lifetime struggle and I want to share it with
    people. I do not wish to alienate any person or mother. I only share my
    own experiences.


    It does hurt when people unknowingly
    make a wrong assumption about my parentage. It is something that is
    unique to the experience of biracial parents. When an adoptive parent is
    questioned about an adoption, they probably feel pride in remembering
    the struggle and excitement of the adoption. When a monoracial mother is
    questioned about her birth, she feels pride. When a biological mother
    of biracial child is questioned about her adoption, it just feels


    I apologize, Wendy, for the alienating
    feeling that I gave you with my choice of words. I know that your
    mothering is just as "real" as mine. It just started out differently. 

  5.  I appreciate your reply!    There is a general thought that adoption is a second choice, that it is less than ideal, less than being a biological parent.  Its very ingrained in our culture and in our thoughts that people don't really realize that what they say can be very hurtful.   It happens all the time with words like "my own", etc.   My daughter was never a second choice.  Adoption was always my first choice.

    An adoptive mother goes through everything that a biological mother does.  An adoptive mother also might have a broken heart and spend many a night wondering if they are able to fill the "primal wound". (book reference)   The pride that I have from being her mother doesn't come from the two year wait or that does or doesn't share my genes.  My pride comes from watching her grow and sharing her day to day life.  My pride comes from being there doing the my difficult times in her life.  My pride comes from just loving her.

    I totally get the frustration of because you have different skin colors, she must be adopted.  I would find that frustrating too.   Its interesting because when its just my daughter and I together I wonder if people think she could be biological. 

  6.  I'm so glad that you saw my response Wendy! I hated to think that I did the same thingwith  my words that I feel when people ask me about adotping my daughter. I think that it's a good conversation to have. Families are families. It doesn't really matter how they got that way, right? Thanks for sharing and I hope you finish reading my post. :)

  7.  I will!   We rainbow families are all in the same boat no matter how we got there!

  8. Hey Wendy, I also wanted to add, after thinking about this some more. Sometimes the question isn't "Is she adopted" but a blatnant, "Is that your daughter?" Or even worse, "Oh, that's your daughter??" (emphasis on that's your) So often, it's not even that they assume she's adopted, it that's they can't even see that she's my child.

  9. And yes, we rainbow families have to stick together, because we all battle the same annoying stereotypes. 

  10. I just want to say thank you for this post. I feel like I live on the flip side of your post. I am the minority in Asia, and my son has my coloring but my husband's features. The boys look exactly alike, just like you and your daughter do. But so many people cannot see that, the skin and hair colour take precedence to everything else.

  11. I just read this. The one thing I want to clarify to you is the comment that the relative who misunderstood A. being "yours" is not a judgmental person. It was a simple misunderstanding. I hope you get to know those folks better some day. Love, Marge


What do you think? Start a conversation here!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...