When Your Daughter Doesn’t Look Like You…

I suppose it happens more often than not when parents of two different races have a child: the child ends up looking more like one parent than the other.

In our case, I got the short end of the stick: I’m very pale, freckled, and have dirty blond hair.  My daughter looks every bit an Indian, like her dad.

This has lead to some interesting public comments over the past 14 months, but I hit the jackpot with not one but two “incidents” today.

The very first time it happened, was in the park with peanut when she was about 4 months old.  An older lady approached me with compliments for her, and then asked “Is she yours or are you the nanny?” and when I confirmed she was mine..  “Oh, sorry, well, you never can tell these days.” Hmm.

Then today, it happened twice:

First was at the playground.  There was one brown-skinned nanny that I sort of recognized but wasn’t sure how/where I’d seen her before.  We had small talk about a couple things. Then suddenly, seemingly finding a bit of bravery blurted out “Oh is she Indian?” To which I answered, “Yes,” initially, but then realizing the internal assumptions she was likely making, quickly added, “well, half Indian; she’s mine.”

But my the second of today is my favorite to date, mainly because of “in-no-uncertain terms” way that the assumption and truth came out.

On the way back from a playdate at the park, we stopped in a restaurant for dinner.  The place was empty, and towards the end of dinner, I notice an assumed mom and daughter come in.  Like peanut and I, the mom is light-skinned and the daughter is darker.  As we are cleaning up, the little girl makes her way over to say hello to peanut, and the mom follows.  We exchange names and ages of our kids, and I’m careful to just say “she” when referencing the child, not to make any assumptions on the relationship.  Then she says “Is she Indian?” I respond “Yes,” and before I can get any more out, she says “How long has she been with you?” A bit stunned, I simply said, “Uh, well my husband is Indian so she’s been with us the whole time,” to which the woman blurted “Oh, she’s your biological daughter?” as if she needed absolute confirmation.  When I gave it, she started apologizing profusely, saying that since she adopted, she can sometimes assume everyone she encounters is in the same boat as her.  I actually felt bad for the mom.  It was a genuine mistake and she seemed to feel awful, though I tried to assure her it was no big deal.

I suppose some people in my shoes could be offended, but it doesn’t bother me all that much.  She came from my womb, yet somehow she doesn’t look like me!  But she’s happy and healthy and a cutie and that’s all that matters.

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