By Melanie Wilson
“Is that your baby?” I get asked this often.
The babies I have had in foster care look nothing like me. Most of the time we are just stared at. I forget that we look nothing alike so I always think the babies have food on their face or are chewing on something that I didn’t notice. Then I always look down and laugh because I remember why people are looking.
My favorite people are those that just ask. The first time I was asked, “Is that your baby,” I had no idea what to say. It was at our church trunk-or-treat the weekend I got my 9 month old foster. I know I looked at the woman like she was crazy because everyone else I saw that weekend was family or friends so they knew. I stuttered and said yes that is my baby. She looked at me still confused and I added that he is my foster baby. She busted out laughing and said “I was about to say his daddy must be real dark because someone your color doesn’t make a baby that color.”
That woman shocked me and made me realize I would probably get asked this a lot. So here are some of my favorite comments.
On Christmas Day we had to bring the tiny baby to the ER because his cough just didn’t sound right and of course he had RSV but the doctor cracked us up. He walked in and said he was so sorry but the baby had RSV and started asking questions. He said, “Did you deliver here or at the delivery campus?” I looked at him and thought if you think I delivered this baby I don’t know if I want you to be his doctor because this genetically could not happen. I told him he was my foster child and he said he figured something like that but he doesn’t ever say anything because he doesn’t want to offend anyone.
Another time, this sweet little girl passed by us in the store and went on and on about how cute that baby is and smiled and waved and talked to the baby. When they’d walked by she tried to whisper to her mom but she couldn’t whisper and said, “Is that her baby?” The mom hushed her and kind of giggled and said, “Yes, that is her baby.” I know the little girl must have still had a confused look on her face because the mom paused and then added something along the lines of she probably didn’t have that baby in her belly like I had you but she is his mommy just like I am your mommy.
Most people just simply respond with, “Well I didn’t figure” or, “How sweet are you to take in a baby.” They have really sweet words. Some want to know more about foster care and I love answering their questions because I think if more people knew we could help more children.
My favorite conversation happened at Walmart not long ago. We passed by two ladies and they said how cute my baby girl was and I said thank. I told them he is a boy but he is very pretty and people get confused a lot. We saw them a few aisles down and one got the nerve to ask, “Is that your baby?” I smiled and did my explanation that he is my baby, my foster baby. These two women busted out laughing and said, “We were wondering because he is dark but we thought maybe you had some black somewhere down the line because you got a big butt like us.” They completely meant the comment as a compliment and went on about how big butts are the best and I just laughed and laughed. Later, when I was telling my mom the story, I was still laughing because they really meant it as a compliment. It’s still not a conversation I thought I would ever have with anyone, especially in Walmart with strangers.
I would rather someone ask than just stare. It gives me a chance to talk to them about foster care.
However, I have had some ugly stares. I passed by an older couple who huffed and puffed when I walked past them downtown. I have had some people make comments after I pass them.
I don’t care what anyone says. I think the big butt comment will always be my favorite comment. Embrace who you are and love everyone.
DID YOU KNOW: According to the 2016 AFCARS Report & U.S. Dept. HHS 44% of foster children are white, 23% African American, and 21% are Hispanic.