Adoptive Mom Surprised by Rude Racial Comments

When Memphis mom Nikki H.  and her husband Jacob adopted Joshua, nearly a year ago, she was met with some strange responses. She said, “People always look. Always. Some people have stopped to ask the oh-so-scary-because-what-if-I’m-wrong question, ‘Did you adopt him?’”

Many folks just openly stare rudely, Nikki said. “Both Jacob and I are white and Joshua is black. We became a multi-racial family when we adopted Joshua in March of 2010.”

 “He is our chubby, cheeky, talkative, mobile, crazy, wonderful, precious, beautiful son.”

The couple had immense family support throughout their adoption journey as well. “Our families have been the definition of acceptance and love throughout our adoption journey. Never once has the difference in race been an issue within our extended family. We are truly blessed. Joshua is loved fiercely by his grandparents, aunts and uncles.

But there are frequent occasions when education is necessary. Nikki said, “I had a friend ask me how tall his ‘real mom’ was and I replied, ‘I’m about 5’3.’ You see, I am his real mom. I don’t expect everyone to speak ‘adoption-ese’ but I don’t hesitate to correct them either.”

Nikki remembered, “The night we brought Joshua home, we invited only our parents and siblings to meet him. I remember just sitting there, soaking in the memories of each family member holding Joshua for the first time, cherishing him, kissing him, and telling him how much they have loved him even before they knew him.”

Today, Nikki would like to think that adults still stare at this little family simply because they are memorable — and beautiful. “We are memorable but in a good way.  We recently had a grocery store cashier remember us many months later because we do stand out in the crowd.  Standing out is not always a bad thing.”

Transracial adoption is most commonly defined as “the placement of infants and children of one race with parents of another race,” Nikki explained to me. “When the world looks at my family in the store, at the doctor’s office, or waiting in line for ice cream, they probably see a black little boy with a white mom and a white dad. But, when Jacob and I look at Joshua, we only and purely just Joshua, our son.”

Photo Credit: Nikki, age 27, husband  Jacob, age 29.  Joshua on the night they first held him!  

That is one lucky family right there. Thanks, Nikki, for filling me in on your beautiful life with little guy. Follow her for Joshua updates!

Add a Comment
Back To The Adoption Diaries, by Nicole Dorsey-Straff
  1. by Laura Bullinger

    On October 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Joshua is adorable in that pic! Much happiness and blessings to you all!

  2. by Gmazet

    On October 11, 2011 at 4:42 am

    It’s exactly the same here, in France !
    Courage ;)

  3. by Debbie

    On October 14, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I loved reading your story. In the past I’ve seen adoptive parents with children of a different race and highly approve.

    We have three bi-racial grandchildren that we love more than life itself. When we’re out with them, someone always has to ask,”Are they adopted?”

    I’ve often wanted to reply that the sperm bank got it wrong the first time, so we returned for a second time to keep the first one from feeling “different” and we could have a matching pair. It is always astounding to me how strangers feel compelled to ask such rude questions and think it’s okay.

    Keep up the great stories. Enjoy your precious little baby, too.


  4. by Sandy Pierce Ealy

    On October 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I am Nikki’s Mom’s first cousin. I would like to say Nikki you are beautiful in so many ways. YOUR baby is beautiful and lucky in so many ways. People can be rude but God doesn’t see color. I hope you all have a wonderful life and keep posting pictures, I love seeing them. Your cousin from Mississippi.

  5. by Rosana

    On November 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Both my older sister and I are adopted. I am from south america (latina) and my sister is from the caribbean (mixed)and our parents are white AND we have a younger brother (natural child)….our bedtime stories were how we were adopted and i loved to hear them. I like to say i have two mothers, the one who gave birth to me (and made the decision to give me up) and my mother who raised me. I also tend to forget that they are white and have to let people know before introducing them.

  6. by long island

    On November 16, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Oh hey I just wanted to write and say I really like reading your blog!

  7. by gigimarie

    On December 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

    I wish all the best for your beautiful family. I just wish the adoption agencies and the world would STOP giving specific names to things based on race. (ex. mixed, transracial, biracial, …..).

    How Do You Know When You Are Walking In The True Love Of God? When Race and station is not an issue.

  8. by IS

    On December 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    God bless you Nikki. That’s how the world should be. Color shouldn’t be an issue. Everyone deserves a chance. We are all human.

  9. by Daniel Ibn Zayd

    On December 7, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Color shouldn’t be an issue, but it is, and in a much deeper way than this fluffy story allows. This adoption is a reflection of the inequality of Anglo-Saxon society, and is a condemnation of that society that does not take care of its marginalized, but exploits them to the extent of taking their very flesh and blood. If this were purely a racial issue, then we’d have black parents talking about their white babies and the rude comments that they receive. Furthermore, the comments that these parents receive is a drop in the ocean compared to what we, transracial adoptees, grow up with. Fortunately, some of us go back to our originating culture in an attempt to find peace of mind far from the racist culture that adopted us. For it isn’t just a question of a few individuals, it is indeed the whole culture.

  10. by Mariel

    On December 10, 2011 at 2:22 am

    All love and luck to you and your wonderful baby

    White people do think they are the chosen ones.

    In 30 years the predominant color will be brown.

  11. by Danielle

    On December 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

    My husband and I adopted our daughter the day she was born. Both my husband and I are Caucasian and are daughter is bi-racial (Caucasian and African american). When she was born my husband was deployed, so I very often got looks from people who were judging and not friendly. I had people say things to me such as “wow, your baby is so tan”. Helllo, TAN? When my husband came home, being that we were both Caucasian we very often then and now have people look at us and make comments about her skin color. I even had a nurse come to me in private and ask if she was adopted or if she an affair baby. WOW! My daughter is my life and the color of her skin does not matter. It never has and it never will. I have had people come to my mother when we are out and ask if her granddaughter is one of her daycare children or ask if my husband is my boyfriend and if my daughters birth father is part of her life. We are adopting a child out of foster care now that will also be a different race from us and I hope that people will respect that when we adopt and not make ridiculous comments.

  12. by Lynda

    On December 15, 2011 at 2:33 am

    As a former child protective service worker and now a mental health therapist, I must say that the only people I love as much as foster parents are adoptive parents. Children need good, loving homes and the color of skin is not what defines a happy home.

    I can remember a time when kids languised in foster care waiting for adoptive parents of the same race who many times never came. That should never happen.

    Kudos to all adoptive parents. :-)

  13. by Sarah P

    On December 19, 2011 at 7:10 am

    My Jewish neighbors adoped a bi-racial son a few years ago, no one asks them, that I know of, everyone just assumes he’s adopted. Not a big story. I know a lot of mixed race couples and their kids don’t always look like they are their kids..who cares? My japanese friends’s red-headed biological daughter is often asked about her “nanny”. I have a blond kid and he used to think he was adopted. Life goes on. Maybe the writer is from a small town where they are rude. Most people are more accepting.

  14. by Liz

    On December 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

    God bless you, for being such loving and caring parents. wish there were more people in the world like you, then there wouldn’t be so many orphaned children in this world. It’s all about LOVE. Color, religion, etc. Has nothing to do with raising a child.

  15. by Steph

    On December 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I wish the very best for you and your adorable son.
    My sister adopted a bi-racial baby a few years ago, it is amazing the things people say and do.
    He is an adorable little boy, my sister and her husband are white and he is half white and half african-american. We all worked in a family owned business together so I got to hear it all right along side of her. But the craziest thing is most of our employees thought he was a “oops” baby, they thought my sister had an affair on her husband and the result was my nephew. No one ever asked, we didn’t comment on him because we don’t see color, we see him. There are some very simple people out there. But we know he is very loved and I think thats most important.

  16. by Jessica

    On December 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    While I commend these parents for adopting a child of a different ethnicity, I am a little bothered by the fact they “don’t see” that he is a little black boy. As a bi-racial woman raised in an all-white town by the white side of my family, I didn’t find it helpful that my family didn’t “see” my ethnicity. The rest of the world (both black and white) does, and I grew up very confused and frustrated that I had no way to understand or identify with my bi-racial background. I would encourage parents of a child of another race to “see” their ethnicity, explain it to their child, and encourage them to be proud of it. I have only heard white person say that race doesn’t matter. Believe me, it matters!! But that doesn’t mean it can’t be positive and beautiful also.

  17. by bbino

    On December 30, 2011 at 6:49 am

    While color can be compensated for in raising a child it probably was a big factor in that child’s family either being exploited or not getting the help it may have needed to keep the family together. With large dollars involved there is plenty room for crime and exploitation in adoption. It is not some pretty picture.

  18. by kathryn

    On December 30, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Don’t just assume that the rude racial comments are made by ignorant white people. My best friend who’s white & hispanic adopted two African American children from the foster care system. The rude comments she’s experienced is from African Americans who don’t approve of interracial adoption or at least the way she’s raising African American children. She had a woman chase her down at a store to yell at her about not doing her daughter’s hair properly. She let her kids grow out naturally and that apparently is some horrific crime for some. I think when people see any kid who they think is adopted they think they have more of a right to bud in, especially when the child is a different race.

  19. by Bookworm

    On December 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Parents of other races can do a perfectly good job of raising a child of a different race. When I was younger, I was in the NAACP Youth Council and there was a boy named Mason, a Black boy, with his mother Alice, a White woman. And she was a great mother. He had everything he needed and she even tried her hardest to make sure that he knew and loved his culture and history, as she recognized that his experience might not always because of his race. So yeah, I don’t really have a problem with White couple adopting a Black baby (or vice versa, or any other variation) as long as they love them as their own and treat them well. And as a bonus, make sure that they learn about their culture and history.

  20. by proud mom

    On January 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Seventeen years ago, my husband and I adopted a little baby girl. We are caucasian and she is black. The horrid comments, the stares and as she grew older, unwanted advice about her hair. I was once asked if she took after her father, my reply : “Tonight when he sneaks in my bedroom window, I will turn on the light and see.”

    We have done our best to teach her about the black community by having her study black history, famous black women and such. She is often asked if she is mixed. She asks if it really matters. One time she was asked what race she was and she said “human. What are you ?” I have to admit, I was proud of her that day (and always have been). Today she is a beautiful young lady who represents young black women in our community with pride. She also represents all young women in our community. We are often asked why we didn’t wait for a white child, we didn’t wait because she was meant for us and we are very lucky that she is our daughter !

  21. by Michelle

    On January 6, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    My husband and I both have brown hair and brown eyes. The beautiful baby boy we adopted, our angel Elijah, has snowy blond hair and blue eyes. People have said things to me about ‘pulling one over on my husband’, they’ve told my husband, ‘son, you were owned. That ain’t your kid.’

    And when we explain that Eli is adopted, that out of tons of babies in need of a home, this little man’s heart cried out to ours and we found each other … there are still comments. Why would we want a child who doesn’t even look like us? Why didn’t we make sure that the parents had brown hair and eyes?

    The only answer I can give them is that THIS is the family God designed. I’m barren for a reason. We waited years to adopt for a reason. Elijah was placed in our loving care for a reason. What doesn’t matter is what each of us looks like. We are a family. And when his blue eyes lock on my brown ones … I only see my son in there. I even see his daddy’s expressions from time to time. He’s ours. And we are his.

  22. by Tricia

    On January 7, 2012 at 3:41 am

    I know this is about racial comments with adopted children. But I’ve experienced it first hand with my biological son, I’m Hispanic and my husband’s white. Our son looks like me but has my husbands skin and hair color. I’ve gotten or heard comments from “she has a white baby” ” she can’t be his real mom” “do you babysit him everyday?” “Ima tell his mommy you’re making him cry”. I mean they’re not horrible comments but as Nikki said also people stare to where its down right rude and uncomfortable and some will meet you with a disapproving look on their faces. And these comments and faces have came from different races, mostly women… usually when I hear a comment like I that, I say “yes he’s mine! I have the C-Section scar and stretch marks to prove it!”

  23. by Pat

    On January 9, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Congratulations to Nikki and her family on their adoption. As an adoptive mom in a multiracial family, I just wanted to remind folks that a short story like this is just that, a short story…more simplified than real life. The first year or 2 it is easy to say (and honestly “feel”) that “race doesn’t matter.” But families grow and change over time, and like other families, adoptive families adjust our approaches to major issues as our children grow.

    The bond between parents and children can be strong, regardless of how your family was formed. And most parents (bio or not) do not look at their child and “see” the color of their skin, or the color of their hair, or the color of their eyes. When we look at someone we love, we “see” them more as a whole and “see” past the outside. But, as our multi-racial family grows older, I have learned to drop the “color doesn’t matter” perspective and actively engage in activities and discussions with my children to help them cope with the realities of racism in our society. Just like we have to help our children to learn right from wrong, we have to give our children the opportunity and tools to learn to function in a world where what our family looks like is not the norm, and where the roles, rituals, and every day life is different than in their culture of birth. I don’t believe that we should judge whether growing up in one culture is better or worse….for our children, and in our family, it is what it is. Our job is to help prepare our children to face the world WE live in.

  24. by Yuck

    On January 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Why didnt this woman adopt a white kid? Does she think shes being somehow special by raising a future rapist thug?

  25. by Anne

    On January 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    I grew up in a mixed-race family. My mother, older brother, sister, and me are all white, but my younger brother is mixed. The city we lived in is still predominantly white and Hispanic, and until I was about 10 or 11, I’d never seen another mixed-race family. We, even as the siblings, used to get a number of these comments. “Is he adopted?” “Are you sure he’s your real brother?” “Was he switched at birth?” My mother was often asked where she “got him from.” And those were the easy comments, not the hateful, racist ones (I had the N word thrown at ME simply because he was my brother, on more than a few occasions … ) As an adult, he unfortunately ended up “playing down” to the stereotypes of the half of himself he hadn’t known, his black half. I wish he could have grown up in the sort of environment these people are trying to give their son. As a mother now, I can only do what I can to remove racial emphasis for my own daughters (all white), while still trying to teach them to value others for their’s … a tricky line. To see the person before the skin. So far, I think I’ve done well … but I can only hope … I never want MY children to ever make another child feel the way I or my siblings did because of my brother’s race …

  26. by Mom of Three

    On January 13, 2012 at 2:52 am

    The world is not going to change just because your family adopted a child of another race. Idiots will still abound, so don’t be shocked. What will happen, however, is that the old guard of freaks will die off, and the children now who are growing up seeing your family as nothing out of the ordinary will not be like them. You are part of that positive change. Unfortunately, it will be a slow change. Best wishes.

  27. by Rachel Humphrey

    On January 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Though I understand the adoptive parents being upset at so many questions I believe most of it is the parents not the people asking the questions. I think a typical question for parents is how tall are the parents. Now we all know he’s adopted I think they’re asking the typical question of how tall do you think he’s going to be. People who adopt are just sensative to that question and make it out like the people asking them are trying to be mean or something but really there not. People need to be less sensative.

  28. by Hilary

    On February 1, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Until you’ve experienced something like this first hand how can you know what it feels like?? They did NOT ask how tall, they asked how tall is his REAL mom, sorry @Rachel Humphrey, that changes the game. That’s where people get sensitive. I am Korean, adopted by a white family, raised in a wealthy white home. My husband is black and my children are “Blackorean” as they like to be called :) I placed my oldest son for adoption when I was 15, he is also black and korean. I purposely chose a mixed family (mom asian, dad white) so that my son wouldn’t have to hear the pure ignorance of people. Even now, with my 2 1/2 yr old daughter, she is light skinned so when she is out with daddy people ask, is that your daughter? (he is so tempted to reply, “no i stole her from a local daycare because she was cute”). Best rule to follow? If you don’t know, don’t open your mouth. Don’t question someone else’s child, why is it your business why my daughter is lighter than her dad? WHY DOES IT MATTER? For anyone who has a multi-racial family no matter what it is composed of, we are going to hear dumb comments, witness the ignorance of family and friends, but at the end of the day…it is your choice and it is your family and that is all that matters, not what stupid comments we hear! :)

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  30. by Chase

    On February 8, 2012 at 8:15 am

    What a beautiful baby! It’s amazing to me how complete strangers allow their curiosity to get the best of them and think it’s okay to come out and ask personal (and rude) questions. Congratulations to your family – I am sure Joshua made your dreams come true. He’s lucky to have a loving extended family, and I’m sure you feel lucky to have him. My dad, my aunt, and my cousin were all adoped – adoption is such a blessing to so many families! I wish you all a wonderful life together!

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  33. by Catherine

    On February 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Alexander Dumas, who wrote “The Man in the Iron Mask” and “The Three Musketeers”was Franco-African and, when a fellow Frenchman berated him about his mixed racial background, he is reported to have replied, “Sir, I am a Mulatto, my father was a Negro, and his father was an ape. So you can see, my family began where yours has ended up!”

  34. by Charlee

    On March 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me what people can say. We adopted a bi racial child and sometimes people make rude comments. My friend sent me this video because she knew I was getting tired or rude questions.

    This short youtube video has a good answer to:

    What race is your son?

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  36. by Jenny

    On June 27, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I actually birthed my baby girl, who is half white half Vietnamese, and I got several comments about how she didn’t look like me. Or if I too had adopted. The older she has gotten the more she takes on my Asian characteristics, but #2 is on the way and I don’t want to have to deal with ignortant people who don’t see the beauty in interracial families.