SPONSORED POST: This post is paid for by the Ad Council. All opinions are my own.
If you’ve been following my story, you know I’ve wanted to be a foster parent since I was 8 years old. If you haven’t, may I suggest reading about how I got here from there.
When we were being licensed, we were asked if we had any racial preferences or objections. Nope, we said, we’re color-blind. We don’t care about that stuff at all.
When we got the call for Squirm, his race didn’t phase me at all. Not a problem. We’re color-blind, right? Yeah. Then he shows up with the most adorable baby-fro. And I realize that I DON’T. HAVE. A. FREAKING. CLUE how to take care of his hair – hell, I honestly just figured out what to do with my hair about 5 years ago. Seriously.
So I did what any clueless white foster mom would do – I googled. Which may or may not have been the best first step. I spent the next 2 hours alternately clicking on random google results and poking/pulling at Squirm’s hair trying to determine whether his curls had a “Z” pattern when stretched or an “S”. I still can’t answer that question, but I ultimately decided that his hair falls somewhere in the range of 3b to 4a. Whew! With that question (sort of) solved, I can now turn to what the experts (and by experts, I mean the next 5 random google results) suggest as the go-to product for 3b to 4a hair.
Let me just interrupt myself here to say that while I laugh about this whole process now, at the time I was literally frantic to get to THE.RIGHT.ANSWER. – RIGHT! NOW! You see, I was convinced that this was my MOST.IMPORTANT.TEST. as a transracial parent (ha!) and that if I didn’t figure out the best way to care for his hair IMMEDIATELY then the whole world would know that I was a complete failure as a parent and he would be scarred for life. I just kept telling SuperDad – “I don’t him walking around looking like he has white foster parents!!”
So.. what guidance did the next 5 random google results offer? About 15 different opinions about the best and worst products to use on his hair, many of which would list a product as the best and then in the next paragraph describe it as the worst…
Now, if you’ve ever cared for ethnic hair, you’ve probably fallen out of your chair laughing at me by now. If you haven’t, let me just tell you that my sweet baby boy requires 4 different hair care products, to be used at different times during the week. There’s a daily leave-in conditioner/styling aid to make his curls pop. There’s the weekly (Wednesday) shea butter shampoo and restorative conditioner, and the weekly (Sunday) co-wash conditioning cleanser because his delicate hair can’t be washed more than once a week.
But again, I digress. Where was I? Oh! trying to google the single right hair product for my bouncy baby-fro. After another hour fretting in front of the computer trying to decipher a consensus, I despaired that google didn’t have the answer after all – but then I remembered seeing the ethnic hair care section at Wal-Mart.
So I convinced SuperDad that we must load up Squirm & Lady Bug and go to Wal-Mart immediately. Yes, all of us. If you have any experience with infants, you know that it took approximately 3 days to get everyone dressed, diaper-bagged, loaded into the car and then unloaded at the store. We made a beeline for the ethnic section to find….
So I did what any slightly anxious completely panicked mom would do – I grabbed the first person of color I saw and pleaded for help. It happened to be a teen-aged boy just cutting through the aisle with his friends.
Nevertheless, I stepped in front in him with my hand up, said “Excuse me, I have a strange question. I am a foster mom, and this gorgeous little boy has just been placed with me – I don’t have a clue what to do with his hair, can you please help me?”
Luckily the teenager was amused, rather than offended. He also wasn’t much help. He smiled, handed me a brush (for straightened hair) and gestured at the olive oil products and made his escape.
As soon as he was out of sight, I realized that my time spent frantically googling and my instincts could tell me more about caring for my biracial infant’s hair than a teenager with a fade. That gave me my first shot of confidence in my ability to parent this child and I picked out some items that seemed promising.
We don’t actually still use any of the products that I picked up that day – they were really pretty awful. But I’ve done more research, experimented a little and (thank God) found the natural hair care section at Target. If you’re wondering, that stuff on the top shelf is awesome!
Don’t get me started on the skin-care consternation, but we figured that one out, too.
I panicked again when I attended a transracial parenting lecture and realized that I hadn’t even begun to realize the challenges we will face. I was frequently completely convinced that there had to be a better home for him – because I was simply not equipped to do him justice. I’m wasn’t good enough to be this precious boy’s mom.
But the bottom-line is this:
I HAVE to be good enough – because I AM his mommy.
AdoptUSKids has a great new initiative: “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.” There are over 100,000 children in foster care ~right now~ waiting for forever homes; 31,000 are between the ages of 11 and 17. And they need you. I can’t count how many times someone has said to us, “I would love to adopt or foster, but I’m just not strong enough.” SuperDad and I have two responses to that:
- How do you know until you try?
- You have to be, because they need you.
These kids don’t need or expect perfection. They just need someone to care. They deserve to feel loved and wanted and to know that they belong to someone.
Before I get hate mail about saying we were color-blind, I’m intentionally speaking the way we thought before coming a transracial family, in an effort to illustrate just how cavalier we were about the whole thing.