More About Hair Extensions on Small Children

It was only a few days ago that I wrote a post about Hair Extensions on Small Children. Yesterday a friend sent me this article about Swedish celeb Carola Häggqvist (read her blog here) who recently adopted a beautiful three year old girl from South Africa. Now this is not the first time I hear about Carola's adoption, a friend of mine actually called me in an outrage about a week ago, but I was trying to stay neutral and understanding at the time. But after reading this article I felt like I can't keep my mouth shut on the subject.

First of all I want to say that I have very specific opinions on international adoption. I am not adopted myself, so of course I can't say what it's like, but I am not a huge fan of international adoption. I will tell you why; I think it's hard for a adoptive parent to help the adopted child to maintain the connection to the birth country and therefore their roots. Unless the adoptive parent is from the country where they adopt the child from or have lived in that country for most of their life. I also believe it's extremely hard for a white parent living in a predominantly white society (here: Swedish in Sweden) to understand what it's like being black in a predominantly white society (here: South African in Sweden). My personal opinion is that one can never fully understand, even though one may grasp the experience thereof.

I also think that international adoption sometimes is seen as some kind of "good dead" which should be applauded, i.e. "saving the poor African child, bringing them to Europe and giving them a better life" (I think this is just neo-colonialisc thinking). Having a child, whether through adoption or not is in my opinion never a "good deed" it's a selfish act; a way of fulfilling a need within oneself to be a parent. And in my opinion I think that instead of taking children from their birth country there are other ways to help, if that's what one is looking for. The best for a child is not always to have two parents in a country far away from their birth, family can be many different things; one parent, being raised by grandparents, being raised by aunts or uncles, being raised by close family friends of the parents, etc. Now I'm well aware that this may not be a option in many situations, but I believe international adoption should be a last resort "solution" for a child, especially when it means moving the child to a continent far away form his or her birth place. And I don't think people "have right" to be parents, some claim this as a reason for adopting or going through IVF or other treatments, I don't see being a parent as some kind of human right that is universal, being a parent is a privilege and a blessing, nothing else.

And I do raise my eye brows at white celebrities that adopt African children, especially as there are white children in their home countries or continents that need parents as well. Of course it's not only a skin color based thing, in my opinion it's a cultural thing as well when you remove a child from their own culture and make the choice that they need to be raised in a foreign culture. And of course, I know that many adoptive parents are aware of this and try their best to ensure that their child or children has a strong connection to their roots.   

Ok, let's return to Carola and the hair extensions on Zoe. In the article states that as a response to critics (here's the article about that - a hair dresser called Bobby Oduncu is quoted saying that African hair doesn't grown long, yes I sent this man a email!) against her putting extensions in 3 year old Zoe's hair that "there are no short haired princesses" and "every three year old wants to be a princess," she also says that putting hair extensions  "is more common in African countries." Okay, this is what I want to say to this: There may be no short haired princesses in story books, I understand that, but there are also very few dark skinned princesses in story books, especially in Sweden. Would a solution to this be to bleach Zoe's skin? Of course not! And I highly doubt that Carola would even consider that as an option, though I don't know her personally. Instead of putting extensions in her daughter's hair she could have tried to lift her up where she is, building her self confidence and self-esteem through presenting her to other characters that look like her (Carola if you are reading this - lol - I suggest Niki Daly's books about Jamela), instead of trying to mold her to fit into the world make her a part of the world. There are lots of books for children of color! (Another great tip is Marlene Dillon books, they can be found here)

Books about South African Jamela by Niki Daly

Secondly, yes, hair extensions may be more common in African countries than in Sweden, but not on small children. When I was last in South Africa I can't remember seeing a majority of kids with hair extensions, not at all, the majority of school children I saw had short chopped off hair or cornrow styles (correct me if I'm wrong my South African readers!). Also, there are 50+ more countries in Africa, and I think if you'd look at it statistically the majority of African women don't have hair extensions, partly because their lifestyles don't allow them to. And I think Carola, who now is a mother of an African child, needs to be more aware of how she speaks of Africa. Africa is not one country or state, it's over 1 billion inhabitants speak between 2000-3000 languages and how they live vary greatly. And I don't think saying "everyone else does it, so I do it as well," is a good choice. But like I said in my post about hair extensions on small children I think as a parent you try to do what you think is right. I'm sure Carola didn't put extensions in Zoe's hair to F her up, she probably just doesn't know better. And maybe she doesn't have any or very few black friends and points of reference when it comes to black/African hair. I pray for Zoe's sake that Carola will rethink a few things when it comes to raising a future black woman.

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