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August 10, 2010

Brown Babies with Pink Parents


Maria of tobeanaturalista.com writes:

Amy Ford is a new blogger on NaturallyCurly.com. As conotated by the above title, Amy is white and her adopted children are black. Her contribution to Naturally Curly is to write about the things she learned to be able to properly care for her girls naturally curly hair.

I've been coming across many stories as of late, about white mothers with black adopted children who go through hell and high water in order to learn how to properly care for their daughters hair. There was the dad who learned how to braid his Ethiopian Daughter's hair. Not only was he a guy doing his daughter's hair, he was a white guy!

In my son's (overwhelming white) swim class, there was couple who had adopted a black daughter. On the last day of class in the locker room, I overheard her pointing out my "Thank God I'm Natural" tote to her 4 year old. I stopped so we could talk and she told me they are dedicated to the Youtube community for learning about how to take of the girl's hair. She asked me, a perfect stranger, about wrapping her child's hair at night. The mother stopped using scarves after waking to find the scarve slipped over her daughter's face in the night. I told her a cap or a satin pillow case would solve her problem. She was ever so grateful. Sherelle, the co-creator of Naturalistas, works in a child development center and mentioned to me about a little girl who is also adopted. The parents try very hard to enforce the beauty of the little girl's hair, but the girl insists that her hair needs to be straight like the other black women who also work at the facility. Sherelle, of course is natural. But at what point did the girl make this revelation I wonder?

More interestingly, I find, is the dedication of these mothers who love their children so much, and have no aim to change who they are genetically, that they are doing whatever it takes to make sure the girl's hair is taken care of properly. Maybe it is different with adoption? One could reason these parents may feel they have more to prove since the children are not biologically theirs irregardless of their skin color. But what about the whole Angelina and Zahara debacle? The brown masses of the US were demanding Angelina "do something" with Zahara's hair while others, including many naturals, thought her naturally curly afro was adorable and appropriate for a little girl. That Angelina and other mother's allow their little girls' natural hair to shine without submitting it to the heat of a hot comb or worse, to chemical relaxers so very early on in their precious lives is a beautiful thing.

My own mother, African-American, may not have gone out of her way to purchase numerous books and there were no Youtubes for her to watch, but she was very protective about my hair. It was always in braids. There were no free pony tails for me, no one, including my self was allowed to "play in" my hair and I slept with a scarf for as long as I can remember. Now, when I got to be 9, all that was undone with a relaxer, but I still wasn't allowed to touch my hair. Doing my hair was both tedious for my mother and loathed by me, but she had no qualms about taking the time and effort to do it. So what is it about many ( I said many, not most or all) young black mothers opting to take the easy route and slap the creamy crack on their babies heads?

I know, through my own witness, many heads roll when they see yet another white couple with black children. But it's just skin and it's just hair and obviously they are providing that child with love and care that the biological parents could and or did not. I say kudos to Amy for not only going the extra mile for her child but for sharing her journey publicly.

Weigh in!

32 Chime in!:

naturalreviewbyl.com said...

This is definitely coming up more now. I think it is great that the parents are taking the time to educate themselves on how to take care of a black child's hair. There is a natural hair group on Facebook specifically geared towards white parents who have biracial or black children.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article! I agree that its becoming more prevalent and I see nothing wrong with it. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Seems the white parents are putting more effort and acceptance in their black childrens hair. Many naturals did so on their own at 20,30,40 yrs old! Good for them! I cringe when black people go on and on about someone like Zaharra's hair. As if that's more important than being loved and taken care of! Meanwhile they are throwing CHEMICALS on their babies head.

CailĂ­n said...

Thank you for this article, I am an adopted mother of twin african/native american girls and I love them more than life itself and only want the best for them and their hair. I have been the recipient of black women telling me their hair needs to be relaxed or with extensions or not in a afro (which I loved on them as babies and toddlers). But there are many others who tell me I am doing a great job and that they are my children and not to listen to the negative. I just want my daughters to grow up and be proud of who they are: two very amazing girls who are intelligent, smart, funny, beautiful and loved by their family and friends.

Anonymous said...

As an adoptee, I have no issues with white parents learning to do their children's hair. They should, whatever that means for them. There are deeper issues to be concerned about in the adoption triad.

jtbrown said...

I am bi-racial and have white family members as well as friends. I have noticed that white women really appreciate and love natural hair. That's not a sweeping statement and shouldn't be taken as such but a lot of white women I know that love my natural hair. I have some coworkers that have told me that they don't like my hair straight and that they think it's prettiest when it's curly.

julia said...

I believe that when a white couple makes the decision to adopt a black child (and to keep their hair natural etc), it is because they
've made a conscious decision to be very deliberate about fostering that child's self esteem, self worth etc. They know that things will be hard enough, that they may wonder why their hair/skin/eyes/ aren't like the rest of the family so they make a concerted effort to embrace all that is beautiful about who that child is and will become.

Many black parents don't do that because 1- (truth be told) they may not believe that it's beautiful 2-they're trying to make things "easier" (i.e. acceptable by mainstream standards) for their child

Often someone from the outside looking in, sees the beauty in that which is different. And if they didn't, they probably wouldn't have decided to adopt a black child in the first place.

apaine said...

a super duper great resource for adoptive parents (and even bio parents with natural textured babies) on caring for natural hair is katelynylyn on youtube and also her blog Keep Me Curly. awsome!!

Anonymous said...

My daughter who is 2 1/2 years old, has naturally curly hair, that I will not relax. I love the curls that she has, and she loves to play with her hair when its wet. I sometimes do twists, then let him out the and she will have all these waves of curls. I love it...

When I was a kid my mother relaxed my hair and my hair broke off, it was not until I stopped getting relaxers did my hair start to grow back longer and healthier than ever before.

mood_indigo said...

My boss actually goes to church with the couple who adopted the Ethiopian girl. When she showed me the feature that was done on the dad I quickly sent her the link to beadbraidsbeyond.blogspot.com and he was ever so thankful for it. It's awesome that so many of other nationalities are willing to let their adopted children's natural beauty shine. If only they could find that same support from people whoi look like them...

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that they're willing to learn as much as they can about black hair for their children's sake. Cosign with Julia. ~KF519

WildOnce said...

What a wonderful article about the dad doing the daughters hair! It brought tears to my eyes to see him taking the time and effort. I love to see little girls with their natural hair done so nice and cute!

Amy Ford said...

Curly Nikki, you have made my day! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the subject! If could hair combing to my resume, I would because that is just how proud I am of these skills I have acquired over the years. I tell other white mothers all the time, "This isn't easy for anyone, including black kids with black parents. They've just had more practice than we have!" For now, my three brown beauties will remain naturally so.

Luminita Vintage said...

I love this! Other then relaxing my mane at 5 until Idecied to go natural 11 years later my mom (im multiracial) took very good care of my hair. If there was a style she couldn't do she asked a relative to do it. She knew when to ask for help and she did. Only thing she shouldn't of done was relax it.

I like that more and more parents with black and mixed children are getting together and talking about how to best care for it. It don't matter to me wether they are white like my mother or black like my dads side, it maters that its being cared for properly and people are more vocal about it.

This article lifted my hopes!

Anonymous said...

My sister was adopted by an white (gay) couple when she was a newborn. She has 4c type hair. They enrolled in hair-care programs to learn how to do her hair.

You can see her walking around with so many different hairstyles! She sleeps with a satin-scarf, etc etc. They know what they are doin'. Haha. :)

Anonymous said...

I have seen many whites take much better care and time with their ethnic children's hair than many black women. I have also seen MANY that have given in to to the pressure of meddling black women and relax their child's tresses. I have had to do a big chop on a many heads b/c of this misinformation. I actually think mane black women get embarrased to see white people with black kids with natural hair. For some odd reason, they take it as a reflection of themselves and don't want "others" to see their true hair texture. It is ridiculous! I LOVE seeing these little girls, natural and free and learning early on that they are beautiful in all their natural glory.

twnzand1more (twnz&1mo) said...

I love the fact that a white father took the time to learn how to groom his daughter's hair. I think I'm gonna let my other half read that article so it will give him inspiration into doing his daughters hair. The head band thing is getting old. LOL

BLACKkittenROAR said...

That last paragraph is absolutely disgusting. Its not "just skin" and it certainly isn't "just hair" to say that is to ignore the entire history of oppression Black people have suffered (and still do suffer I may add) for their natural born traits. If it was "just hair" there would be no needs for sites like this, they would not exist because the idea of not wearing your natural hair the majority of the time would be absurd.
As for the nonsense about natural parents not loving their their biological children the way adoptive parents do.. I am left dumbfounded at the ignorance and lack of knowledge the poster has just put on display. If you aren't involved in the complex triangle of adoption, its fairly ignorant to make assumptions and judgments about any of its members. Natural adoptees are a part of this community too you know. I realize this blog isn't about understanding adoption, but making ill-informed judgments really don't have any place here IMO.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but i think its "just hair" and "just skin". Oppression only happens when society is ill-informed, or the oppressed has no prior knowledge,privilege or will power to liberate themselves from that situation. With the current knowledge that many African american possess about hair, it is the right for each individual to choose what they think is best for them. Using historical context to justify individual traits is insane. As a culture, we should learn from history instead of letting it be the barrier between growth and understanding. As far as skin tone, it's only what you make of it. If you constantly see all the limitations and "oppression" that a color brings, then self evaluation should be in your agenda because that's a negative way to live life. Plus, your making yourself a victim instead of a survivor of adversity.

BLACKkittenROAR said...

Its not about playing victim, its about being clued into reality. Being Black means there will be more to overcome because society is not set up fair and balanced. Anyone who sincerely believes that the world has become post racial is a fool. Closing your eyes to the real world because its not pretty will not change the ugly truth. In a white supremacist society, natural hair and darker skin are othered, and seen to be "less than". If this wasn't the case, one could wear their natural hair and there would be no horror stories of people reacting negatively to it. If you think racism and discrimination happen on a case by case basis, that they are isolated incidents that don't really happen anymore I know my words have been wasted and you can go back to believing I'm a victim cause I call out bullsh** when I see it. Choosing to be delusional will not help you to "survive" adversity.

BLACKkittenROAR said...

In regards to adoption and race:

‘Better Off, Better Smile’

like I said before.. its just not that simple.

Anonymous said...

BKR-Girl, get thay mnonkey off your back!!! It IS JUST hair and I mustsay that it isn't whites that react negatively to our natural hair. The black community gave me the hardest time out of any group when I first went natural. That victim mentality that you harbor will keep you filled with animosity. Let it go and embrace yourself and you will soon stop caring what anyone else feels or says about your skin and/or hair. Self-Love is powerful!

Anonymous said...

I went to college with a white girl that had very red, curly and frizzy hair. She, or her parents, had never learned to deal with it. I taught her a lot and she said she'll make sure to show her own daughter how to rock her hair and minimize teasing. It's not about race, it's about learning to care for all of your childs quirks and uniqueness. Our hair is more fragile but lots of races hair hair issues too. White, black, brown, red...it's all just just trying to have healthy styled hair!

Anonymous said...

@ BKR I'm sorry but your wrong in regards to the reality of Being black in america. I'm west african, and speaking for many Africans who were born in other countries like Belize or Brazil, I knew for a fact that we don't identified with racial insults and tension that occurred in previous generation. We sympathized and whole heartily understand the frustration and pain that occurred. However, it does not directly or indirectly hindered my identity or what I seek to accomplish. I'm not closing my eyes towards its existence, I'm choosing to not let it define or break me. There's always going to be an obstacle may it be religion, sexuality, ethnicity, or even political views. People have been persecuted from all walks of life. Maybe you should relocate to Brazil, they have the second largest population of africans in the world besides Africa, you can then experience life in a non-"white" view. Complaining breeds no solution, change your environment, hell move to New Zealand, Ghana or Chad. Live life according to your standards.

Anonymous said...

Pet Peeve- "conotated'is not a word. (memories of conversate ring in my head) It is either connote, or connotative or connotatively.

BLACKkittenROAR said...

like i said before anon, u can call me victim all u want, i still think ur delusional as all heck.

BLACKkittenROAR said...

as for being wrong.. how do u figure? 1st off i'm neither african or american i'm a black canadian (via the Caribbean) adoptee. my experiences are very different than urs (obviously) so please dnt tell me i'm wrong when u dnt have a clue.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I loved the article and I see this happening everyday. I love that when a different ethnic group adopts a child they learn to take care of that child as a whole. Rather it is a black family raising a white child or a white family raising a black child. I think that there should be education on both sides whites and blacks when it comes to black kids hair. I have to say that yes sometimes it is harder for whites to learn how to take care of a black childs hair but on the other hand I have seen many black parents that don't take the time to comb their childs hair either. All in all I think that it is a society and regional attitude about our hair.

the eXclusive said...

Unfortunately many of these families are the exception and not the rule, especially in more rural areas like where I live. There are plenty of white mothers to black children and adopted families, but very few (I'm certain I'm the only one in my town) black women with natural hair.
I remember a few months before I decided to go natural a white mother of a mixed daughter approached me about what to do with her daughter's hair. We live in a "city" of a little over 20,000 and there are no black salons or stylists. She hated having to drive the 4.5 hours south to Rockford, Illinois to the girl's black aunts. Apparently the aunts had advised her to get the girl, who was 9, a relaxer. Looking at the girls matted, undone and unkempt hair (and mind you this was before I got my own natural revelation), I advised the woman to not get a relaxer, but simply wash, blow dry and use a hot comb on her daughter's hair. I told her she could also forego the hot comb if she wanted to. Natural styles never once came up and unfortunately for a lot of the black adopted or mixed children I see living in this town, it's either weaves, straightening or braids.

Anonymous said...

I was with you, Nikki, until the use of the word "irregardless". SMH.

Anonymous said...

Natural hair is beautiful and anyone who preserves a child's natural beauty should be appreciated. I went natural 14 years ago and it was a journey of discovery to know and understand my self in this way. My mother is white, she refused to let me get a relaxer but relented after I begged and pleaded (at age 11) to get it done. It was impossible to go back until at age 25 I just cut it all out and started over. My mother warned me not to do it and she was right. I was beautiful just as I was (am). I am a proponent of natural beauty. A woman should love herself, her hair included, in her own natural way. We arent mass produced off an assembly line. Beauty is unique to us all as the beauty we are. Try to capture someone elses beauty can cause you to lose interest in your own. Ladies, try to appreciate your own beauty, all of its unique nuances, and love the person you were blessed to be. And stop looking at TV, magazines and fashion to define who you are as a beauty...they cant tell you. Invest in looking directly at your own to define yourself.

Anonymous said...

wonderful. My wife and I are planning to adopt a Black child and want to surround ourselves, and our child, with all the positive affirming resources available especially for hair. Grateful to have found this.

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