Dear Baby Girl,
On a random Saturday last month, your daddy and I visited Goodwill with you to donate the floor lamps that you’d nearly been toppling on yourself. While I browsed the linens section, your daddy headed off to look at the outdated VCRs (I bet you don’t know what those are).
And then a stranger stopped me and asked, “Is that baby yours?”
“Yes,” I responded simply.
But the stranger continued to give me a skeptical look until your daddy came over, providing the missing link to explain the hue of your skin.
“Oh,” the stranger said, satisfied at last.
I have already lost count of the times in the last eleven months I’ve had this conversation. There are a few forms of it with varying levels of offensiveness—people asking the race of your daddy, wondering if you’re “Indian,” calling you “Moana,” or saying that biracial babies are the prettiest. I worry that, eventually, these nosy strangers will convince you that you are the strange one. Here’s the truth:
What is strange is the assumption that racial homogeneity makes a family. When your daddy and I laid eyes on each other almost five years ago, we knew full well that he’s black and I’m white. But primarily, we saw in each other a person we wanted to know and be known by more than anybody else in the whole world. We knew that our biracial kids would face ignorant questions from people who don’t understand the richness of life that we experience. But we weren’t afraid to become a family.
What is strange is the assumption inherent in the question that biology makes a person a mother. Right now, I know at least 3 families in our community who are currently in the adoption process. When the adopted children come home and the families are united, the adoptive parents will be parents, no less than parents who fuse sperm and egg to make a baby.
Here’s the thing, Baby Girl. Families aren’t made because their melanin glues them together or because a baby grows within a mother’s body. Families are made because somebody says, “No matter what happens, no matter what you do, how no matter how we change, I’ll still be there for you.” That’s how I’ve felt about you since the moment I knew you existed. So even though one day you’ll be all grown up, and you may not feel like my baby any more, I will always be your mother.
One day, when you’re old enough to talk and express your opinions even more than you do already, someone will probably walk up to you and say, “What are you?” You can say whatever feels right to you in response. It isn’t your job to explain your story to them, because it isn’t any of their business to ask. And more fundamentally, the phrasing of the question reflects a construct of race as far more static and determinative than we know it to be. Because here’s who you really “are”:
You are beautiful. You are beloved. You are the creation of the love of God and two parents who love each other deeply. You have been so very wanted since before you were even born.
That’s who you are. And yes, I am so very proud to be your mother.