One thing I prepared myself for when we started the adoption process was the possibility of a transracial family. Remember, we did not request a race or a gender, so we weren’t really sure what we would end up with. One of the thoughts that scared me was the possibility of having to do black-girl hair. Of course deep down inside, I was assuming we would have all boys (and we would shave their heads).
I have read enough about adoption to make sure that I respect Hannah and Olivia’s culture (by that I don’t mean their roots, like whatever country their ancestry is from, but I mean the importance of respecting that their skin and hair are different than mine and have different needs), I watched Chris Rock’s Good Hair, I read I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World (which I *highly* recommend to anyone interested in adopting a black or biracial child, or is related to one, or is a teacher, or social worker, or just someone who likes a good read), so I am well aware of the importance of doing Hannah and Olivia’s hair. Out of respect for them, I do their hair (as well as I am able, again, I am still learning) far more than I do my own. Sometimes I get . . . impatient. Annoyed and frustrated are not the words I want to use, so it’s more like an impatient feeling, kind of like, “Dang, I don’t even have time to do my hair, much less my 2 year old’s hair!” But, I make time because I don’t want to embarrass my girls when they look back at their pictures. Sure, embarrassment is not the worst thing in the world, but I want them to look back and see that I made the time and effort to help them embrace who they are.
I have read that it’s typical in black communities that hair is a mother-daughter event–the washing, combing, and styling. That’s what I want for my girls too. I want them to have the memories of their mom spending time on their hair, just like their classmates. My prayer for my girls is that they understand they were created by God and put in our family. I’m sure at some point Hannah and Olivia will wish they had straight hair. I myself have wished for curly hair, and I certainly wish I didn’t have to wash my hair every day. But, I want to invest enough respect into who they are that they can embrace the family that we are.
Every morning, during devotions, I ask my girls, “Who loves you?” and Hannah is finally saying “Jesus loves Hannah” and then I say “Hannah, who has a plan for your life?” and Hannah says “God.”
God put Hannah and Olivia into our family; they are part of His plan for our lives. That’s why I am doing the best I can to fully embrace who my children are.
The main way I get hairstyles (which I will repeat, I am still learning here) is shopping. I spend my time grocery shopping and hairstyle shopping. I study styles that I think I can repeat and then I try it at home. Of course, Hannah’s hair is uniquely her own so there are lots of styles I can’t remake (at least by myself). Also, her hair is getting thicker as she is growing up and the only way to get thicker hair is for more hair to start growing. We are at a stage right now where her hairline is starting to fill in and get thicker so I am having to wrestle with short baby hairs around her entire head. You can imagine that if I don’t pull those back or straighten them, she kind of ends up looking like a mess. Add that to a naptime and a little 2-year-old who doesn’t respect her own hair and rubs it on the couch, or messes it up doing summersaults, or pulls out the round brush and tries to comb it herself, or sneaks a bristle brush to bed with her and ends up with a lion’s mane. So, her hair is not perfect all the time.
But trust me, if you saw her by herself somewhere, you wouldn’t know she was being raised by a crazy white lady.
Abby is a stay-at-home mom, married to