When Kobi first came to us she had loooong extensions glued to her scalp. Why glued you ask? Her hair and scalp were so damaged that there was almost no real hair. Ususally, the extensions would be braided in, but there was nothing to braid it to. This was partially due to the extensions themselves. They were long and heavy. Sadly, she had no one that cared enough to do anything for her in a proper way.
She lived at the Deaf school during the week and had no hair care routine at all. When she went to the foster home on the weekends (7-8 hr. Bus ride there and then back) she was there such a short time that no one bothered to fix it.
I knew the braids needed to come out immediately , however I had been told that she was extremely sensitive about her hair. So, what can you do. We waited. It almost killed me to leave them. Her scalp itched and she scratched it constantly. I' m not sure who was more miserable - Kobi or me. Trust had to be established though. I had to give it time. Give her time. Here she is with her new family ( white at that) and everything is changing for her. Her hair would need to wait.
She came in May, so my goal was to have it look better before school started. What to do though? That was the question. It was a question that I asked of every black person ( or African American, whichever you prefer) I knew or just saw at the store. I went to every black hair care salon in the metro Atlanta area. For every person I asked I got a different answer. Big shock.
With school about to start it was time for the big decision. We simply took the braids out ( what were left anyway) and had her hair trimmed to be even all over. When it was all said and done she had almost no hair. Maybe a half inch long. Yep, she looked like a boy. Yep, it was traumatic - for a few hours.
Bless her heart she just sucked it up and moved on in record time. I know this was record time because one time many years ago I colored my own hair and it turned out ORANGE I am still not over the trauma of that little hair debacle.
But I digress.
She held her head high and looked very African princess-y doing it. People often called her " little buddy" or " son" or "fellow" or "young man". It was times like that that I was thankful she was Deaf.
Her hair is now about six or so inches when stretched out and her scalp is in perfect condition. I have invested in a mountain of products over the last year and a half. Some have worked great, some not at all. Some were cheap, most were expensive. I learned how to do Cornrows and flat twists. I perfected two strand twists and learned about hair type. I have come to appreciate all African American ( or Black, whichever you prefer) women. Hair care is a very time consuming and difficult task in the AA community.
However, it is also a time of bonding for mother and child. I am thankful for this year and a half of bonding time with Kobi. It was perhaps not the traditional experience since we could not talk during the hair time. My hands were busy, so no signing for me. We did indeed bond though. It was time we spent together for the greater good - her crowning glory.
Jump ahead to today, 18 months later. We are having "sisterlocks " put in ( this is done with her hair, no extensions). What is that you may ask ? These are tiny little locks that will stay forever ( or until she is grown and chooses otherwise). We can style these, leave them free, curl them, whatever. The best thing is - no more combing. No more five and six hour "hair days" for the two of us every two to three weeks.
This was a big decision and not one we came to lightly. I researched for a full year and then had to find a certified "sisterlocks" technician. We are here today getting them finished. It will be a total of approximately 18 hours of sitting for Kobi.
She is proud of her hair now. She wants it to grow longer , which it will do better in the locks. She is proud that this is her own hair and not extensions. It has been a process and she has had to learn to appreciate the hair God gave her. She has had to understand that it will never look like mine and that that is good. God created us all for different purposes. We look different, have different hair, skin etc. We have the same heart though. Here we are embarking on a new path for her hair. A new, albeit easier hair routine. This will open up some time for a different type of bonding.