They don’t match. His parents are white and he’s brown.
“There are many reasons that children might have a skin color that is different from their parents.” If you know the circumstances, you can say, “Tony is adopted. He got his skin color from his birth parents.” Or, “Tony’s dad is African-American and his mom is white, and his mom is now married to someone who is white.”
Why is she adopted? Didn’t her parents want her anymore?
“There are many reasons why people are adopted! Did she tell you she is adopted? If so, we can ask her about it. What’s important is that her parents and birth parents all want her to be taken care of and loved.”
Why doesn’t he live with his Mom or Dad anymore?
If you know why he is in foster care and you are free to say something about the reason, you can say, “Sometimes birth parents have problems that make it difficult to take care of their children. There are other adults – foster parents – who also become family and help to take care of children.”
Why does she live with her Grandma?
If you don’t know the answer, you could make a general statement such as, “There are many reasons why children live with their grandparents – some parents are in the military or have jobs in other places; sometimes parents have health problems and are unable to take care of their children; in many families, grandparents and parents and children all live together in one house and are a family together.”
Why can’t his Mom speak English?
“English is just one of many languages spoken in our school community. His mom speaks Chinese, so he gets to know two different languages! He’s lucky isn’t he? Would you like to learn some words in (Spanish, Chinese, Russian…)?”
How can a family have two moms [dads]? Which one is the real one?
“They both are. Both moms take care of the children and love them. There are all kinds of families. Some have two moms or two dads, some have one mom or one dad and some have a mom and a dad. Some children have divorced parents and have two different sets of parents/stepparents that love them. There are so many different kinds of families!”
Don’t you need a woman and a man to have a baby?
“Children come into families in many different ways, and the families that love the children may have a mom and a dad, some a mom, some a dad and some have two moms or two dads. What’s important is to have a family that loves and cares for you.” (Note: If you have a child with two dads or two moms in your classroom, it can be helpful to know how their parents talk about their family. This will help you respond to other students’ questions.)
For children with two moms or two dads another student may ask: Are their parents married?
The response may vary depending upon what you know about the parents of the student. If you know the parents are married, you can now simply say, “Yes!”
If you don’t know the parent’s marriage status, you could simply say, “I don’t know. But they could be (or could get) married because two women or two men can marry each other.” The key idea to emphasize is, “What is important is that the child’s moms or dads are a family and that they love their children!”