For New Adoptive Parents, Hair Care Takes A Village

By RYOT Studio

Beauty is one of the most personal forms of self-expression — anything from the products you use to the hairstyles you gravitate toward — can be influenced by your culture and the communities you’re a part of. With children, those influences begin almost immediately. And with hair, a parent’s inner circle of family and friends, along with teachers, babysitters and other important figures, begin to shape children’s ideas of what taking care of their hair means.

For Joyia and Mariana, an interracial couple with a biracial adoptive daughter, hair care has been a journey made better and easier with community. As neither share a similar hair texture with daughter Eliza, they’ve educated themselves on what’s best by leaning into the support of their inner circle of friends for advice and tips. “It takes a village, because I definitely did not have experience working with Joyia’s hair texture,” Mariana says. “I have somewhat wavy hair, and Joyia was not the best at doing hair, so it was a learning process for us. We had to rely on friends and people around us to help us do Eliza’s hair and learn what products to use.”

<strong>Mariana, Eliza and Joyia share a family bonding moment while Mariana styles Eliza’s hair.</strong><br>(Photograph: Courtesy of Pantene)
Mariana, Eliza and Joyia share a family bonding moment while Mariana styles Eliza’s hair.
(Photograph: Courtesy of Pantene)

The couple also relies on books about hair written by biracial children like Eliza. One of the trio’s fondest memories is meeting Eliza’s “hair twin” while randomly out and about who had the same texture as their daughter, but was a couple of decades older in age. “We had this really nice conversation about hair and what she did to hers,” Mariana says. And then the kind stranger recommended a book about children loving their hair, which Joyia and Mariana found to be a sweet confidence booster for their daughter.

The mothers in Eliza’s dance troupe have also been great resources in the family’s hair journey. “With them, we have all different types of hair textures, from 2C to 4C,” Joyia says, referencing the curl spectrum that categorizes hair based on its curl pattern. “So everyone’s getting and giving their input, talking about the different kinds of oils that they use and different types of products to condition the hair and to detangle it. And then the kind of braiding styles they do, because the children need to have the same hairstyle for dance. So, it’s all about achieving that with all these different types of hair to look exactly the same.”

<strong>Parents Joyia and Mariana discuss hair care with their daughter Eliza.</strong><br>(Photograph: Courtesy of Pantene)
Parents Joyia and Mariana discuss hair care with their daughter Eliza.
(Photograph: Courtesy of Pantene)

Joyia and Mariana think of themselves as lucky that they have such a supportive community, and that they also haven’t been on the receiving end of any negative hair comments. The only setbacks they sometimes face are from Eliza, herself. “She gets a bit frustrated when it gets tangled,” Mariana says. So that’s when those positive affirmations about loving her hair, appreciating her hair and telling her it’s part of what makes her special come in. Eliza chimes in that she now loves when her hair is big and fluffy like a cloud.

And when it comes to that styling — even if it means letting Eliza dye her hair blue with temporary hair color — it’s totally up to Eliza. “We let her pick the hairstyles that she wants to do,” Joyia says. “I’m a big film buff, so we’ll watch a lot of films or she’ll see some shows and see people who look exactly like her or different types of hair shows. And she’ll say, ‘Hey, I want to do that.’”

<strong>Eliza tries out her burgeoning hair styling skills on her mother. </strong><br>(Photograph: Courtesy of Pantene)
Eliza tries out her burgeoning hair styling skills on her mother.
(Photograph: Courtesy of Pantene)

For parents who are just starting to navigate their children’s hair, Joyia and Mariana recommend learning your child’s hair texture first and foremost. “I think that is so important, because people will give you all kinds of advice, sometimes unsolicited,” Joyia says. “And if you don’t have anyone around you who has that texture or if you’ve adopted a child and you’re not familiar with their hair texture, go to that community and find it.”

Mariana emphasizes learning about their hair “at every stage to see what works and what your child likes.” Hair care is a journey that is never quite finished and perfected, so it’s all about making it fun along the way.



From Pantene:
For LGBTQ adoptive parents, every opportunity to connect matters. Caring for their children’s hair is one of them. Pantene wants every family to feel beautiful and knows hair care helps build unforgettable bonds. Visit www.familyequality.org/pantene to learn more.


This article was paid for by Pantene and co-created by RYOT Studio. HuffPost editorial staff did not participate in the creation of this content.