Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Rules" for Transracial Adoption Hair Care

Sweetie has recently come into her own hair wise.  Its long, super curly and perfect.   But it was just not working using my old hair styles & routines.  By the end of everyday, it'd take me over 10 minutes, tears and sweat, just to comb through it.  And if I was lazy for one night and let her sleep in it, forget about it.  Snarl central.

This just didn't work for me.  I have prided myself (maybe a little too much) on her having healthy, moisturized and cute hair as much as possible.  So I went on the hunt for new products, new styles and new ideas.

I found this facebook group that revolutionized the way I thought about her hair and my role in it.   I have gleaned that there are 3 basic "rules" for transracial adoptive parenting hair care.

  1. Keep it healthy.
  2. Simple styles are FINE.
  3. Do what folks around you are doing (no more, no less).

Keep it healthy. 
This one is pretty straight forward, but over and over, I hear people saying that the style doesn't matter so much as the moisture and health of the hair.  Many people recommend the LOC method, which is what we have used since Sweetie was about a year old and still use, we just continue to play with the product choices, which is really fun.  Its a bit like being able to bend the rules, but only AFTER you know them.  Learn about the LOC method - it will change your life if you are parenting transracially.

Simple styles are FINE.
Once a kiddos hair gets to the length that its breaking off, or getting excessively snarled, its time to put it up somehow, someway, so that it can be protected & stay moisturized throughout the day.  This is officially called the style.  There are folks who... well... get a bit carried away in coming up with new styles, different styles, styles that take two weeks, all the bribe candy you have in the house to put in & then last for MONTHS and months.  I exaggerate, but its true.  Oh so true.  And for the mamma like me who wants to do it right, I looked at all these AMAZING, beautiful, intricate styles and felt defeated because when I tried to do them, it just looked like a hot mess and stayed in a matter of hours or days, not weeks.  

Then like a breath of fresh air, I was told that it really wasn't necessary to learn to braid 25 different ways, or learn an entirely new skillset overnight.  I could work with what I had, learn some easy styles and then style every day or two and my girl would have snarl free & mosturized hair.  

Do what folks around you are doing (no more, no less).
So simple, but a step I 100% missed learning.  Look at people of color in YOUR neighborhood and see how they do their kids hair of a similar age.  This one requires you to get around folks of color and scope out their hair (without touching, but that's a whole different conversation) and take notes.  At the end of the day, we want our transracially adopted kids to fit in and not look drastically different (unless the child themselves tells you different, cause some kids dance to their own drum and want to stand out).

That means, if beads are on every 3 year olds head, put them on your child's too.  If not, no beads.  If every childs head is in braids, learn to braid.  You get the idea.  Learn the skills to help your kiddo be "one of the kids."  No more, no less.  Step away from pinterest... 

I attend a diverse church, so the nursery took on a whole new light as I examined the kiddos hair and discovered -- very simple braids, no beads and very simple styles.  Which worked great for my wheelhouse - which consists of simple braids and ponies.  My two go to styles now each take about 20 minutes and last for a day or two at the most.  But they do their job - they keep her hair snarl free, moisturized, healthy and enable her to be just one of the kids.  

Its also let me relax a bit, knowing doing right by my daughter's hair doesn't have to be a part time job.  :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why Can't I Adopt a Young Child From Foster Care?? | Where are all the toddlers??

Q:  I hear people say that there are SOOOO many kids in the foster care system who need home, but when I ask if I can adopt a child 0-8 years old, the county says they don't have any adoptable kids that young.  Which one is true??  I'm a good person and all I want to do it provide a home for a child that needs one and I keep getting stonewalled!   So frustrating!       

A: Great question!  It is one you share with many, many others, I assure you.  There are many factors that go into an adoptive placement decision, but most social workers follow a general placement preference for a child in need of a permanent family.

Most of the time, this is the "list" a worker will go down when deciding who is best to adopt this child, deciding at every step if this is an option for a permanent family for this child based on the willingness of the adults to parent and their suitability to do so.

If you are hoping to adopt an unrelated child that you have no current connections to, you are at least 6th on this list.  For any child to be on a "waiting child" list, placement options #1-5 have either been inappropriate or they have said no to placement of this child.   And of course, each step of this process takes months and sometimes years, and all the while the child is getting older and most likely is experiencing further moves, trauma and stress in their little lives.

General Placement Preference:
  1. Birth Mom or Birth Dad
  2. Birth Relatives the child has a relationship with
  3. Birth Relatives the child does not have a relationship with
  4. Current Foster Parents
  5. Kin - people in the community or in the child's past that have/had a relationship with the child (past foster parents, school teachers, neighbors, sports coaches, etc)
  6. Unrelated foster/adopt family in the child's community
  7. Unrelated foster/adopt family in the child's state
  8. Unrelated foster/adopt family outside of the child's state

 For example:
  • 6.5 years, child comes into care (median age of entry in 2012).  
  • 8 years, birth parents rights are terminated, because birth mom & birth date have been deemed unsuitable to parent  (Most states  have legislation that reunification with birth parents can last about 15 months before rights can be terminated) and extended birth family begins to be looked at an option.
  • 8.5-9 years, extended birth family has all been contacted and either haven't shown interest, said no to placement or have been deemed unsuitable (due to past CPS involvement, drug/alcohol issues, felony charges).
  • 9 years, current foster family said no to adoption
  • 9.5 years, a search for kin is undertaken, but with high caseloads and new kids coming into care everyday, its difficult to do the exhaustive search for people who may have been in this child's life 5,6, 7 years ago...
  • If no extended family member, if not one current or foster parent, if no teacher or coach or friends parent said yes...  Child is posted on a WAITING CHILD listing.

Breaks my heart... but more importantly it breaks that child's heart.

If you are are wondering what you can do to help even one child,  consider becoming a concurrent foster placement for a child or sibling group.  

Be willing to take a that child(ren) on day they are removed from their birth parents and to be COMMITTED to adopting them if they can't return to their birth family.  

So when that 6.5 year old (or infant, or teen) is placed in your home, YOU are there, hugging, tucking in at night, dropping off at school, being there for the child, through every day of the 15 months of possible reunification and painful termination of parental rights.  YOU are there for the birth relative search.  YOU are there when the county gets to step 4 and YOU can say YES!  The steps stop here, with me, THIS child is home.

That helps.  That heals.  That is hope.

Yes, its risky for your heart.  Oh so risky.   I understand, I do.  I've done it.  I've lived it.  I've cried over kids returned to birth parents, I've ached.  But, I also know that it is worth it.  It is so worth it.

So if you find yourself wanting to adopt a younger child from foster care - that's okay, the simple answer is that there ARE infants & toddlers who need a home from foster care, but they need a special kind of family.  They need a family who can ride the roller coaster with them.  To support birth family as long as possible and to be in it for the long haul, for the child's good - no matter where they grow up.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Toddler Naturally Curly Hair - Our Routine

Hair. Its been a lifetime journey for me. This lovely head of hair belongs to me at about 2 years old. My parents are as Scandinavian as you can get, Swedish and Norwegian to the core - so when my sister and I came out with these crazy curls, it was a shock and no one knew quite what to do with our hair.

So they did everything good white parents do - they washed our hair with whatever shampoo was cheapest, brushed it out when wet, brushed it when it was dry and lots of times in between (because it looked like THIS). The white girl afro I rocked was legendary.

And the tears over my messy, messy hair and the painful brushing sessions have stuck with me until this day.

In high school, my sister discovered a secret to living with curly hair, she'd wash her hair, comb through it with her fingers when wet and then leave it alone. The result were these amazing ringlets. For her. For me, my hair was still dry and still more fuzz than curl. It took me a little longer to figure out what worked for MY head of curly hair.

That came in college, when I discovered Curly Girl and the secret to success with my brand of curly hair. And ironically, my hair straightened, to wavy only, when I entered my thirties.
But once I learned the secrets, I hoped I would have a little girl with curly hair someday - and now I do.

Sweetie is bi-racial - Native American, African American and Caucasian. And she has the most lovely little baby ringlets, that are just getting more curly the older she gets. But, they can also get pretty unruly when not taken care of properly. Her hair was damaged when she came to me at 6 months, but it is getting so healthy and beautiful now that I think we're doing something right.

Bi-racial or mixed kids hair texture can very quite a bit - from fine and wavy to thick and super curly.  Sweetie's is fine and ringlet curly. People ask me all the time if Sweetie's hair is going to get thicker or "turn black". I know what they mean, but I love it. I love it now, I will love it if it gets thicker or courser, I love it, because it is my daughters hair! And heaven help me, I am going to do my best to help her love it as well. K? K.

Okay, down to what works for me and my girl -

Important overall concepts
  • Learn to love YOUR child's hair - whatever the texture. Tell her its beautiful. Learn how to care for it. Show her how to care for it properly. If its messy, fix it and ask for help whenever needed. 
  • Moisture, moisture, moisture.
  • Don't comb it! Seriously, step away from the brush.
  • Shampoo isn't necessary with curly hair - wash with plain water or conditioner.
  • If its frizzy, get it wet and get it moisturized.
  • Trust your gut - if the hair feels dry, add moisture - if it feels oily, skip the extra oil for a day or two.  You'll soon know what is right for YOUR child's hair.

Morning Styling - Daily
  1. Using a spray bottle, thoroughly wet hair using plain tap water.
  2. Smooth a dime size amount of Shea Moisture Hair Milk from root to tip all over, using fingers to comb out any tangles along the way. 
  3. While adding the hair milk, make sure every shaft of hair is covered and wrap individual curls around fingers to give them added definition. 
  4. At this point, if the hair feels course or the curls are not defined, add more hair milk, more water or a small amount of hair oil of your choice. Remember moisture, moisture, moisture.  (If you add too much product, just wash it out the next day when you bathe your baby and try again to get the right amount.)
  5. Once the whole head is wet and covered with large defined curls, style as you see fit. Most of the time, I put a small section of her hair into a loose pony tail and go. But I also love headbands, little clips and all things girly.
  6. Then walk away. Don't touch the hair anymore, it'll just make it frizz out instead of staying defined. How it looks "wet" is how it will look dry if left alone.
  • Shampoo, with shampoo made for curly hair only once a week or so.  Shea moisture has a few options.
  • The rest of the time, just rinse with water or use conditioner (called co-washing) as you would use shampoo.
Once Every Couple Weeks - Or when hair feels dry
  • THICK covering of Shea Moisture Deep Conditioning.
  • Leave on for at least 30 minutes.
  • Wash out thoroughly.
  • If needed, comb through hair with wide toothed comb in bath (hair SOAKING WET), otherwise use your fingers only.

Before Bed
  • Take out all hair accessories - they hurt the hair when worn for a long time and are choking hazards for curious, young children.
  • Spritz with oil or cream if its feeling dry.
  • For older kids and adults, you can do a twist out at night, or cover with a silk/satin head wrap.

    Keep learning and experimenting
    • Like all curly girls and curly mammas, I have a passion to find the BEST hair care routine/products and its constantly evolving. New products come on the market. Hair changes over time (and as it gets healthier you need different products).  In fact, I actually just ordered some new products that I am excited to try.
    • Google "natural hair" or "natural curly hair" on a regular basis, to find new styles and ideas on doing it better, especially if your hair isn't naturally curly.

    Favorite products & place to learn

    What hair routines work for you and your curly kids?

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    Well Rounded Pinterest

    Its quite easy to get a skewed picture of adoption.  To see it as wholly beautiful.  Or wholly terrible.  Those of us in the thick of it know its not that easy.  Its such a mixed bag.

    One way to keep  our focus, our hearts, our education on both aspects is to immerse ourselves in the reality of the joy, the pain, the complexity, is to intentionally hear stories from ALL members of the adoption triad on a regular basis.

    Adoption parents, adoptees and birth parents.  All voices.


    I am a pinterest girl and one way that I have found to do that, and not get sucked into the oh so sugary sweet that are adoption pins (some of which I love btw), is to follow all kinds of boards.

    To do this -

    1. Type "adoptee" "birth mom" "birth parent" into the search bar on the top left (once you start adding, think of other search items regarding adoption, that might not be posted by adoptive families or agencies - to find these, search "adoption" "adoptive parent" "foster care").
    2. Click boards (this way they will show up in your main pinterest list as you are looking for new pins)
    3. FOLLOW the boards that look interesting and relevant.

    It really is that simple.  Now when you are browsing, you'll see all members of the triads voices. and THAT is so valuable - for your child, your child's birth family and for yourself.

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Bearing Witness to Life

    Sometimes I find a quote that just resonates with me - this is one that still is shaking me up -

    “Was it the act of giving birth that made you a mother? Did you lose that label when you relinquished your child? If people were measured by their deeds, on the one hand, I had a woman who had chosen to give me up; on the other, I had a woman who'd sat up with me at night when I was sick as a child, who'd cried with me over boyfriends, who'd clapped fiercely at my law school graduation. Which acts made you more of a mother?

    Both, I realized. Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life.”
    ― Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    Sesame Street: Change The World

    The Sesame Street Muppet from the hit song "I Love My Hair" now sings "Change the World," an inspirational song empowering children with the idea that they can be anything they want to be