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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Unkempt Hair in Zahara's future? Ignorance is not bliss for the children of Adoptive Parents concerning hair issues

I'm ashamed to say that I even know who Zahara is in this tabloid-celebrity obsessed world. To be put on the world stage at such a young age is problematic enough let alone dealing with the politics of hair, so little Miss Pitt has her hands full. So when I came across a recent article concerning hair issues with children of color and their White adoptive and/or biological parents, the Pitts' famous daughter quickly comes to mind. It would appear to be a "no-brainer" that parenting on many levels would incorporate research and instruction in dealing with the rearing of children, Black and Brown kids notwithstanding. I just hope that the hair issue doesn’t relegate itself to a weird dilemma making children feel peculiar when it’s just hair. I’m not one for engendering the belief that people are so different from each other. Let these parents get the appropriate instruction and move on to more important matters. Hair becomes slowly infinitesimal compared to parents needing to inculcate morality on their children’s scalps in addition to hair grease. Here's an excerpt from the Reno Gazette Journal regarding hair and parenting:

Black hair? Foster parents learn it's different

Norma Thomas of Wondrous World Cultural Training leads a session on African-American hair care at EnSoul.

Class Now Available to the Public
The Washoe County School District's Community Education program is offering a version of the Wondrous World class for the general public. Parents who want grooming tips for their black or bi-racial children are encouraged to attend, and bring their kids with them to the class.

Marian Miller is a seasoned foster parent -- licensed for four years, who recently adopted two of her former foster kids. So when she brought home

two more foster children this year, she thought she knew what was in store for her during her kids' adjustment period.

To get the bonding process rolling, she decided to redo her 4-year-old foster daughter's messy hair, starting with a shampoo and comb-out.

That's when the trouble started.

Although Miller had had foster kids before, she'd never taken care of a black child. If she had, she might have known that washing black hair before combing it can cause it to mat and become even more tangled. Acting on instinct, Miller did what she would have done to her own hair, which in this case was the opposite of what was required.

"After I washed it, her hair got totally matted," she said. "It was completely impossible to get a comb through it. She was crying and crying; I was afraid I was going to hurt her. That first day, her grandma had to come over and get the knots out."

For foster parents like Miller -- well-intentioned but unaware of certain aspects of black culture -- the Washoe County Department of Social Services has a solution. Since January, the Foster Care Support Program has offered a course in African- American hair care, grooming and cultural practices.

The mandatory class, called Wondrous World Cultural Training, is a welcomed development in Washoe County. Here, over 87 percent of licensed foster parents are Caucasian, while the children they care for are more ethnically diverse (64 percent are Caucasian, 20.1 percent Hispanic, 8.8 percent black, 3.2 percent racially mixed, 1.4 percent American Indian, 1.1 percent Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 0.8 percent Asian).

Binnie McLemore Lopez, Supervisor of Foster Care support for Washoe County, says that white parents who bring black children into their homes can face grooming challenges. Parents unfamiliar with the basics of black hair and skin care can unwittingly expose their foster kids to criticism from other children.

"Non-black foster parents don't always understand the impact that dry skin can have on a black child," she said. "And that child may struggle at school and in his/her peer group when the skin is dry. Parents don't know they have to put lotion on after every bath."

More from the Reno Gazette article here:

Black hair? Foster parents learn it's different

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