Dimples’ Lovely Locs

A little over a year ago I wrote about our decision to put Dimples’ hair in locs, and it seems we’re due for an update. Locs have literally been a gift to us.  Hours of tears and tantrums disappeared on the day that we loc’ed her hair, and were replaced with once a month touch ups.  Now, I want to be clear, I did not resent the hours spent taking care of either of my black daughters’ hair.  I knew when I adopted African daughters, hair care would become a regular part of my life.  Having been a low-maintenance hair mom from the beginning, I also knew it would be a big change.

What I didn’t know then was that my girls were coming home with years of trauma and neglect in their hearts and minds, and long afternoons of braiding were nearly impossible for Dimples.  My Dimples, who struggles to sit still for more than a few minutes even now, felt tortured as I, with inexperienced fingers, attempted to braid and bead her hair.  With a lot of help from Sweet Pea, we had some success, but not without a great price being paid by the entire household.

As the drama in our home increased over the months and years, simple things like beautiful hair, fell far down the ladder of my life.  Yet, I didn’t want to appear to be a neglectful white mother, so I stumbled on.

As I wrote last year, I knew three women with locs and admired their beauty from a distance.  Finally, on Christmas Eve at our church service, I reached  my hand out to one of them and said, “Can I get together with you and talk about your locs? I need help.”  I met with the ladies and we talked hair, race, skin and living as a black woman in north Idaho.  I loved being able to talk so freely and ask so many questions.  They talked about their own hair history and we chatted about  chemical relaxers, braids, and all kinds of hair styles.  They spoke of the freedom they experienced when they embraced their natural hair, gave up stacks of hair products, and loc’ed their curls.  Their locs had been growing for years, so they did them up in all kinds of interesting styles – always looking fabulous.

Dimples and I were ready to take the plunge, knowing it was a long-term commitment.  Once the locs were in, they would not be coming out for years.  I had done some reading and knew the first year would be the toughest.  Her locs  were short and stuck up on her head, so we bought lots of wide headbands and tried to keep them under control.  She slept with a wide piece of cloth holding her locs down in order to tame them even more.  As they grew longer, I tried little clips, but they often didn’t stay in.

Dimples went through a time of saying she wanted the locs out and her curls back.  We talked about what it had been like when those curls had to be combed and braided, and she agreed that was hard for her.  Some of the girls in her class at school told her they didn’t like her locs and she should wear her hair curly again.  I tried to be sensitive and honest.  I told her, “Those white girls have no idea what they are talking about .  They do not know how many hours it would take for you to have your hair curly again, because they are white and their hair is different from yours.  Let’s talk to Miss Grace and Miss Alexis.”  I also reminded her that the day was coming when her locs would be long enough to do fun things with them.  We bought some sponge rollers and talked about curling her locs some Saturday night.

I am happy to say that 15 months later, her locs are long enough that today she left for school with two short pig tails and a braid gathering up the short locs on top of her head.  One year from now, her locs are going to be longer and she’ll be able to do all kinds of great styles.  In the meantime, this summer she will swim with no concern about snarls or her straightened hair getting curly the moment she hits the water.  She plans to be an athlete one day, and I’m glad that her locs will give her the opportunity to play hard, hit the shower, and not have a bit of worry about her hair.

Her hair is glorious, and getting better every day.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

21 Comments

  1. Christine Chatelain
    April 10, 2012

    Dear Lisa-

    I caught a glimps of your post on facebook. I had not seen the first one about your decision on the locks. I want to share with you something.When our girls came home as you know thier hair was very short, so not hard to work with. After 2 years home it had grown amazing amounts. I spent the last 2 years trying hard to do thier hair. I read how moms loved the time they spent with thier daughters braiding, visiting. For me this was not the case, It was hours of torture for evryone.(tears, screaming and kicking) The girls would not talk to me for hours, told me I was mean ect. It came to the point that I hated hair days and so those days became farther and farther apart.

    Reply
  2. Christine Chatelain
    April 10, 2012

    I felt sad for them and me. I had been trying to figure out how to afford having someone else do it for me. This christmas vacation, I called a beauty school and took all my girls(5) in to get thier hair done. It was a hard but rewarding day. The girls hair to 9 hours because it was so damaged and bad. I was embarresed at first,but the 2 african american wemon working on my girls, just kept telling me it was OK. When it was all over, my girls came to me for snuggles. We now go back every 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the style, it takes only 3 hours. We pick up my oldest daughter who is in college in portland. It is our girls day. I can not tell you what a diffrence it has made with my girls. They have more confedence, becasue thier hair looks nice. Plus our relationship is so much better. For me my stress is gone, I love my time with the girls these days. To top it off it only costs me 26 dollars per girl, the students take great care with them. Best decision I ever made- Christine Chatelain

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 10, 2012

      Christine, that is great. To be able to get their hair done for only $26 and to have it actually build their relationship with you is a real gift. It is so nice to hear from you! Thanks for the great suggestion.

      Reply
  3. Christine Chatelain
    April 10, 2012

    Lisa- I love your daughters hair, and am so happy for you both!

    Reply
  4. greenbean101302
    April 10, 2012

    Her hair is glorious! What a beautiful girl!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 10, 2012

      Thank you. She really is a beauty and I just love her dimples. The best part is that we are seeing a lot more of them lately because she is smiling more.

      Reply
      1. Melissa
        April 10, 2012

        She is beautiful and I am so glad that you are seeing the dimples more!

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          April 10, 2012

          Thank you, Melissa.

          Reply
  5. Emily
    April 10, 2012

    Beautiful pics- I especially love the one with Ladybug :-). So happy it's working out.
    Also- how special that you could have that honest conversation with those women and learn from each other!! So cool!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 10, 2012

      I'm happy, too. Ladybug jumped in that pic and it turned out so cute. Yay for sisters!

      Reply
  6. MRK
    April 10, 2012

    Thank you for the update. I have similar reasons for wanting to loc my daughter's hair, and I'm so happy to see the progress with Dimples' hair. I am taking my daughter for a "loc consult" this weekend, I think, since I don't feel able to put them in myself…I'm just worried that all of her rough play that usually leads to lots of frizzies when she has braids in will potentially give us trouble with her locs setting. Do you remember how long Dimples' hair was when you first had it locked ?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 10, 2012

      I thought her hair was fairly long, but loc'ing shortened it way up. Dimples' hair is "soft" with looser curls, which made the actual loc'ing of the hair take longer. Her locs were quite frizzy at first and I honestly didn't think it was going to work. Each month, the ladies who put in her locs, took a tiny crochet hook and wove the frizzies into the locs. I felt like her locs looked messy about half of the month. If she had tolerated me messing with them, I could have probably tidied them up some, but I was done with the hair battle and willing to wait for monthly touch-ups. The hair finally began to loc together late this fall and the locs began to look less fuzzy. I think a child with tighter curls would have less frizzy locs from the beginning.

      Reply
  7. Kayla
    April 10, 2012

    My kids both have locs. It is so much easier which may sound like a cop out to some people but I am just the type of person who personally prefers low maintenence hair so for us it just makes sense. My 5 year old boy has been saying he wanted to cut his so he could have short hair like dad but I think he's since decided against that. We'll see once summer gets here which is what I've been telling him, that if he wants to cut it he has to wait until summer because I don't want him just cutting it on a whim. I put both my kids in myself and tighten them myself and definitely think it's been a good trade off. And my daughter's are finally long enough to start doing some styles with them. Not quite long enough for one ponytail but we can definitely do two French braids and lots of styles with flat twists. For us, I have found flat twists are so much easier to put in and look better than cornrows I think because it takes less hair to do and I don't run out of locs when I flat twist vs. cornrows. You are blessed to have some black women with locs in your circle of friends. That is the one thing I wish my kids did have.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 10, 2012

      How great that you put them in yourself; I'm not that competent with hair. I know I can tighten them now, but it's kind of nice having Dimples see her loc ladies once a month. Your kids locs look great (I peeked on your blog)!

      Reply
  8. Jane Stillwagon Argiero
    April 11, 2012

    So very lovely! What a good mommy too.

    Reply
  9. Fiona
    April 11, 2012

    My son from Ethiopia wants to have his hair put in locs. I was actually just about to email you Lisa and ask your advice on this. You post was perfect timing. He plays a lot of sports and his hair is so tricky, and he and I so impatient with the haircare. I have always had my own hair in 5 minute styles. I'm excited about it now. Thanks.

    Reply
  10. blesseday
    April 11, 2012

    Would you please tell Dimples that I really wish my super-straight and fine white girl hair would loc up? (Ok, I have heard it is possible, but would take a lot of chemicals, and I don't want to go there) She looks beautiful, her hair is so cool and looks fantastic, and at least one of your readers wishes her hair could look just like hers!

    Reply
  11. Morenike Giwa
    April 17, 2012

    Saw a link to this post on a friend's site, and just wanted to congratulate you and your beautiful daughter on her one year "loc-aversary!" I am a black woman with locs who has also adopted internationally. I had been natural for several years before I started locing my hair nearly six years ago. I think you are sending a strong message to your daughter about the beauty of her natural, God-given texture of hair by choosing this route over relaxing while also being sensitive to her needs. I will be locing my own daughter's hair in a few months; she has requested them for years, but I wanted to wait until she was old enough to understand the decision (www.sisterlocks.com). She is EXTREMELY "tender-headed' and cannot endure having anything done to her hair as a result of her severe sensitivity.

    I do want to point out that locing doesn't necessarily have to be a choice merely for those who can't endure their hair being manipulated. It is a wonderful option, period. Thanks for your wonderful post, and best of luck to you and your family. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 18, 2012

      Morenike, thank you for your comment and encouragement. I love the look of locs and look forward to seeing all that Dimples will be able to do with them as they get longer. This morning she did her hair herself (two pigtails) and left with a smile on her face. I love it!

      Reply
  12. Kelli
    April 22, 2012

    I am so glad you have found something that works for both of you. The first year our sweet peas were home I spent a great deal of time in tears learning to take care of their hair. I desired to give them the best and I was often frustrated by what I read on blogs and hair sites. Our twins (1 boy, 1 girl) have now been home almost 3 years. I now realize that I needed to trust myself and do what is best for us both. Since my girl has the tiniest ringlets you have ever seen, we will never have 15 minute detangle sessions. A quick detangle for us is 45 minutes. Along the way I have learned some other things like the fact that we don't do braids, corn rows or beads. None of these work well with her hair. Rope twists, mini twists, 2 or 3 strand twists and wearing it natural works the best for her. Hair time should never be traumatic but a joy. I hope more moms (like you) will trust their instincts and do what is best for their daughter's hair even if other people (whether white or black) don't approve of it.

    Reply
  13. Diana
    May 17, 2012

    We are parents of eight, six by birth(grown up) and two by adoption from Guatemala, all with relatively straight hair. I have frizzy white lady hair. We are adopting a sibling group of five African American children from foster care. The girls ages are 7, 5, 4, and 3, and the baby boy is 19 months. My biggest fear is taking care of their hair. They are in two different foster homes with white foster parents. The oldest and youngest girls' foster mother has treated their hair like they are white, and it does not look good. The middle girls have braids with beads that are always falling out and getting lost. I know I need to find an easier solution. We will have seven children nine and under and homeschool. I had planned to take them to a salon first, but I am used to cutting and styling everyone in my family's hair myself and would like to be able to handle this myself, if not at first, eventually. Any help would be appreciated.

    Reply

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