Adopting presents it’s own set of challenges, but there are entirely new challenges with transracial adoption.
The challenges range from explaining racism to your child or even understanding how to groom their hair.
That’s why Tamekia Swint started Style 4 Kidz, an organization that offers styling services and training that show transracial and biracial adoptive and foster parents how to care for and style the textured hair of their adoptive or foster children.
According to Time Parents, the Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 40 percent of adoptions in the U.S. are transracial.
When Swint met one of these families, she learned just how much of a need there was for her service.
“It’s hard for a kid to be in a family where your family is different, but its especially hard to be in a family where your hair is not groomed,” she told Great Big Story.
In addition to knowing how to care for Afro-textured hair, Swint learned that white parents of black children also don’t understand the value that hair holds in their community.
“Black is hair is everything in our community and it’s a huge part of our identity,” Swift explains. “It’s to be embraced as apart of your kid’s culture.”
“Sometimes transracial adoptive families don’t understand how important hair is. It’s much bigger than hair. It’s really about the care and confidence that we’re giving the child through the hairstyle.”
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In addition to helping individual transracial and biracial families, Swift’s organization provides in-home hair care education, training, and services to kids in foster care who live in residential facilities and detentions centers, as well as children with special needs.
Swift says her goal is to offer compassionate education to parents without judgment and negative criticism, as well as to help boost self-esteem and cultural pride in children.
“When I was growing up, I knew how important my hair was and how I felt about myself when I was going to school,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “It saddened me that there are kids out there not having that experience, and how important that is to your confidence, and how you feel, and even your performance in school. All of that matters, how you look.”
Swift teaches parents how to properly wash, condition, and moisturize Afro-textured hair, as well as the right products and brushes to use and how to cover their head at night. They provide their services on a referral basis in their nonprofit salon or via mobile services.
Swift also says her services help to connect transracial families with African American families.
“We feel that it’s important that transracial adoptive families connect with African American families,” she said. “We teach, in our workshops, to intentionally seek out those friendships and relationships because there are cultural issues you will come up with, raising an African American child in the world, and you’re going to need to have someone help guide you in that process.”
But one of Swift’s biggest mission is just to make a child smile and feel good about themselves.
Daisy Feidt, a caucasian woman, adopted 4-year-old Ana Tow, with her Latina wife Berenice Tow and took Ana to the Styles 4 Kids Salon in Oak Park, Illinois to get her hair braided for the first time.
“We had been reading a book to her about a black girl who has beads that click and clack, so that was her request when she first came in,” said Feidt. “She was just really proud of it.”
Styles 4 Kids Salon has also helped parents feel proud.
“It was not only a positive and empowering experience but emotional as well,” the Joregenson family was quoted as saying on Facebook.
Because of people like you, African-American kids in foster care and transracial adoptive families have gained…
“I cannot wait to bond with my daughter in the years to come as I work through her hair every day.”
Donate to and learn more about this incredibly genius and heart-centered salon at styles4kidz.org and check out the video below.
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For many transracial families, especially those where Black children are adopted by non-Black parents, hair care can be a point of struggle. That’s where Tamekia Swint comes in. With Styles 4 Kidz, she is creating a space for parents to learn how to care for their children’s hair without judgment or negative criticism. https://greatbig.is/34iURde
Posted by Great Big Story on Tuesday, June 16, 2020