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SheaMoisture and My White Privilege

As a white mom to a little Black girl, learning to care for her hair over the past couple years has been a big deal.

The Black natural hair world is really cool! There are countless bloggers and vloggers who teach hairstyles and share tips on the best products. Not only do they look at the science behind the ingredients, but also the ethical side, with a big emphasis on supporting Black owned businesses.

We had recently switched to SheaMoisture brand at the advice of friends and Phoebe’s hair really liked it. I was thrilled, because the product had a lot going for it. The company is partially Black owned, uses natural ingredients, and is easy to find in any store. It seemed like our hair routine was set for awhile.

And then SheaMoisture released their latest commercial:

My Black friends were offended. The people in Black haircare groups were offended. Black Twitter was offended.

And they had good reason to be. The ad for a company that has been supported and promoted by Black women for years, put a heavy focus on white women (who already have a million products marketed to them). And it made white women’s dislike of their own hair comparable to how Black women’s hair is systemically shamed in our culture. (I mean, Black people can legally be denied a job for wearing a standard Black hairstyle… but tell me again how you don’t like your hair color.)

I listened to Black women express pain over being brushed aside. I heard them vow to never again buy from a company that was so quick to sell out their loyal customer base for a dollar. And I agreed with them.

But I had finally found something that worked on my daughters hair…

I 100% knew the commercial threw Black women under the bus, but I sat there rationalizing why I could still buy their product:

“I don’t know what to use instead. I can’t spend a fortune trying other products. Phoebe’s hair health is more important. When she’s older, she can decide what products to buy. SheaMoisture is so accessible.”

Guys, I was literally saying, “I can put my own convenience over the concerns of Black women who are being marginalized, because this doesn’t directly affect me.”

I know better. But this is what a lifetime of white privilege teaches us. And it takes a lot of deliberate soul searching to unravel the layers.

So this isn’t really about a haircare product. It’s about my reluctance to be inconvenienced in order to stand with those that our society typically ignores. If I can’t sacrifice my comfort in something as simple as not buying a product that bypassed Black women (especially when I’m raising a Black woman in my own home), how do I ever expect to speak up when I see other forms of oppression?

We’re all familiar with Bible verses like Isaiah 1:17.

Learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

But what if it is uncomfortable? What if seeking justice means we need to have difficult conversations? What if correcting oppression costs us more money? Do we still do what’s right or do we rationalize why it doesn’t really matter?

So I won’t be buying SheaMoisture any more. Even if it seems like “just hair stuff,” it’s actually a big deal, because I need to work on my heart and shake off some attitudes I hadn’t seen before. And thanks to this great list (click here), I’ve got some options to try!

 

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Hard Things, Survival and the Big Kids

Guys, I’m not going to lie. We’re in a hard season right now. There are just so many people (and animals) in our house. And so many things that need to be done every day. Lunches, and homework, and diapers, and baths, and naps, and laundry… And so much noise. Always the noise.

I have a sneaking suspicion that everything feels really big right now because we are sleep deprived. Probably, when all the kids are in school (or at least potty trained), I’ll be the one saying to sleepless new moms, “Enjoy it now, because it goes so fast.” Or, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Because I’ll have already forgotten how hard it really is.

But when the Lord asks us to do hard things, He gives grace.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetOf all the grace we’ve been given, I cherish the grace given to our big kids the most.

Those people, who fight over the Xbox and argue about taking baths, can somehow serenely roll with the real stuff.

When we adopted Enoch and Phoebe, Isaiah and Leah’s comfortable little world was invaded by a couple of loud, needy babies.

As an adult, I could see so much room for the big kids to complain. The babies have completely changed our way of life and their needs come before anything else. They cry and they make us late (OK, that’s mostly me, but babies have made it worse). They get all the attention. We don’t even go out as often, because it’s just too much.

But Isaiah and Leah just love those babies with everything in them.

Leah’s baby calming tactic is to sing them songs she makes up on the spot. The lyrics typically involve some combo of the following:

Don’t worry baby.
You will always be in our family.
We love you so much.
You are our baby.
You’ll never be alone.

IMG_4133Lately Enoch has been in full-blown toddler specialness. The other day, I was feeling pretty done with all the chasing and the whine-diffusing and the crisis averting. But I got a perspective shift when Isaiah, who was playing with Enoch, looked up at me and said with a laugh, “It’s so fun having babies!”

I’ve also been amazed by the big kids’ grace to unconditionally accept these new little people as equal members in the sibling group. They have NEVER questioned if Enoch and Phoebe are their “real” brother and sister. That hasn’t even been on the table.

Isaiah and I were discussing the concept of ancestors the other day. I was holding Phoebe, and Isaiah expounded, “Phoebe has a lot of ancestors. She has her ancestors and she has ancestors from our family.”

Of course she does. But the fact that it seems normal to him is so beautiful to me.

I’m not saying they never complain about having to hold a baby so I can cook dinner. But in the grand scheme, it’s so delightful to watch the big kids’ open hearts, fueled by a grace that’s beyond than themselves.

Grace doesn’t necessarily make the hard things less hard. But it weaves an undeniable beauty into the story.

And when we come out the other side of the hard times, the beauty is what remains.

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Martin Luther King Day, Adoption, and Brotherhood

A few days ago, I posted this:

I want to expand that thought a little.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other freedom fighters of the 50’s and 60’s changed America. But it’s even closer to home for me.

Martin Luther King said:

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”

“I have a dream that… one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Dr. King’s life and words resonate with our family, because his ideology simply reiterates what Scripture has been telling us for thousands of years.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,” Revelation 7:9

“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

The equality of all races is not a politically correct trend. It is a basic human issue. It is a spiritual value.

For our family, transracial adoption is a way we are able to tangibly live Dr. King’s dream of walking the earth as brothers.

Can I be blunt? We have no desire to whitewash our Black kids. We don’t want to save them from Blackness. They do not need to be rescued by a white family. That type of ignorance makes me sick to my stomach.

Instead, we are honored to have our children’s heritage mingled with our own. Our ideals are reshaped as we welcome their culture into our family landscape. They don’t conform to us. We all conform to each other. Isn’t that what true brotherhood is about?

On this Martin Luther King Day, I am grateful for the legacy and sacrifice of Dr. King. I’m grateful for the words he put around an uncompromisable value. I’m grateful that he helped lead the fight for brotherhood in America. And my heart is full with the brotherhood that we can live in our own home.

I don’t believe the fight is over, but I’m glad someone was brave enough to help it begin.

Thank you, Dr. King.

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So We’re a “BIG” Family

I typically try to avoid change. But then it happens, and it’s not so bad. I adjust.

The thought of having two babies made me a bit stressed. But the actual doing of it has been OK. I mean, I just keep making bottles and changing diapers and giving baths and ignoring house work.

And I don’t think about it too much. I rarely remember about how easy it was to leave the house. Or how I used to sleep all night. Or how, a couple of years ago, it was quiet during the day.

Except every once in a while, when something shines a spotlight on our reality.

The other day we were watching Jessie with the kids.

Jessie_castIf you’re wise and have protected your brain from the Disney Channel, I’ll explain: Jessie is the nanny for a multiracial family (you can see what sucked us in!) with a bunch of kids. Their home seems pretty chaotic, with over-the-top antics and ridiculous dilemmas every show.

As we watched, I realized something. To us, their family feels pretty crazy, with kids everywhere. They have four kids.

WE HAVE FOUR KIDS.

I pointed this out to the rest of my four-kid-family and everyone kind of paused in shock for a second. Because we saw them as this huge, chaotic family and we saw us as… OK, it can be pretty crazy around here too.

And I know we’re not the Duggars or anything. In fact, we’re small compared to many families in our adoption community.

But a lot has changed in just over a year. Sometimes it feels like survival is the only goal. But it’s worth it. It’s so, so worth it.

These little people, who have brought all the extra work, have also brought the extra joy. They’ve changed our perspective on life. They’ve pulled new levels of compassion and servanthood out of all of us. Our family wouldn’t be us without them.

The other day, I overheard Isaiah talking to Phoebe. He was “teaching” her to pray:

“First you say, ‘Thank you God.’ Then you ask Jesus to help you. Or you ask Him to help someone else. Or you can just talk about your day. You can talk to Jesus about anything.”

I’ll embrace the chaos for sweet moments like that.

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The Davis Family is Up to Something…

I wanted to let you guys in on the latest Davis Family venture.

In case it hasn’t been clear, we believe in adoption. In fact, I was trying to convince other people to adopt before I was ready to take the plunge myself. Sadly, for many, the biggest hold-up is that adoption is very expensive.

People always ask us why it costs so much to place a child in a forever family. The simple answer is there are a lot of people along the process who need to get paid so that their families can eat: social workers, lawyers, adoption agency employees, doctors, government workers. And sometimes birth-mom care expenses (Although, that is usually the smallest amount of anything).

We’re always happy to talk about it and try to explain the financial side in a way that makes some kind of sense, but I think the real question being asked is, “Is it worth the money?” To us, the answer is a resounding, “YES!”

So when we began the adoption process that brought us Phoebe, we dreamed of an adoption fundraising idea that would not only help us adopt, but could help other families do the same.

waitingheartscandleOut of that dream, Waiting Hearts Candle Co. was born. This is our own little baby candle company, making hand-poured soy candles that are cute and come in irresistible scents.

We aren’t talking about being a middle-man seller or some kind of pyramid scheme. This is OUR company. We make the candles in our home, so you know they’re made with love. And everything, minus the actual candle ingredient cost, goes directly to fund adoption.

We’ve been testing out our candles on our close friends and everyone loves them. So now we want to offer them to you!

We’re currently featuring fall scents and I’m going to tell you, my favorites are the Spicy Pomegranate and the Caffeinated Pumpkin (which pretty much smells like a coffee shop in autumn). But there are lots more to choose from that would go perfect with your Thanksgiving festivities. To shop our store, go here!

Also, if you’d like to help support adoption, we’d love your help in selling our candles. If you’re interested, please let us know! Especially if you have a business where we could place a small display of candles.

I’m not going to lie, we’re really excited about this venture. Not only do we get to craft some delicious smelling candles that we’re really proud of, but it’s going to fund adoptions. All we do is win!

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To find out more:

 

 

 

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Help Me!

helpwantedI don’t like it when people help me. It’s painful! Or at least vulnerable.

For one thing, I don’t want to put anyone out. When I had pneumonia, a friend offered to come get my kids for the day. And I almost said, “No, I’ll be fine,” because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. I had freakin’ pneumonia, people! And I was still trying to not be a bother.

But I think, even more than that, my introvert side is hesitant to allow people free access to my Personal Zone. Because sometimes my Personal Zone (i.e. my bathroom) is kind of messy.

When Phoebe came along, friends started to offer help. By default, I was ready to brush them aside with, “Thanks, but I think we’re OK.” Chris, who knows I do this, convinced me that I needed to let people help me.

One of his persuasion tactics was asking a friend to pick the kids up for school for the first two weeks after he went back to work. He told me the plan once it was all settled. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and jump headfirst into being helped.

I mean, I’m still not OK with people dropping by the house unannounced (I might have a mild panic attack… or more likely, just not answer the door). But when people offer help, I’m learning to accept.

In the past few weeks, friends watched my kids so I could run errands. They brought food. Someone even came over and dyed my (unwashed) hair. And most of the time, I hadn’t had a shower, my sink was full of dishes, and I hadn’t cleaned the bathroom in a week.

Because, apparently there are people who love me enough to not mind that I have no makeup on and can’t remember the last time I swept my floors. They don’t care if my table is covered with stacks of papers that my husband considers a filing system. Or if all of our laundry is unfolded and my house smells like poopy diapers.

And I think I feel OK with allowing people like that into my messy chaos once in awhile. At least more OK than I would have been a couple of years ago.

Maybe this means I’ve gotten over myself just a little bit more. Maybe I’m becoming a healthier person. Or maybe I’m just too tired to care.

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Oops. We Did it Again.

Awhile back, I told you all about how we never meant to be weird-baby-name parents. But we inadvertently are, because no one can pronounce Enoch.

Well.

When our newest daughter showed up, we kept it cool. We picked a Bible name that has thoroughly infiltrated society. Phoebe.

phoebetvI don’t think I’ve ever seen a complete episode of Friends, but even I know Phoebe is a character on the show. And there’s a girl on The Magic School Bus named Phoebe too. I mean, how much more cultural reference do people who lived through the 90’s need?

So I was feeling pretty confident that Phoebe’s name would be user friendly.

Until we got a text from a family member (who will remain anonymous) asking if it was pronounced “Fee-bee” or “Foo-bee.”

FOO-BEE. Who would name their kid “Foo-bee”? Do we seem like those kind of people?

Maybe after the Enoch debacle, we do.

But it gets worse. At the hospital, a nurse asked me Phoebe’s name, which I told her and then spelled (because I’m fully aware that part is tough). Not two minutes later, she looked down at her sheet and called my daughter “Foe-bee.” Seriously, I just pronounced it for you. You have no excuse.

So, just to nip any confusion in the bud, my daughter’s name is pronounced “FEE-BEE.”

But I have to admit, “Foo-bee” might become a nick-name now.

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A Baby Update!

We brought Phoebe home to meet the family almost one week ago.

Progress report: We are surviving.

holdingphoebePhoebe sleeps and sleeps and somehow is still way more DRAMA than Enoch ever dreamed of being. Like, if you pick her up too quickly, she cries. Silly girl.

And Enoch has just flipped the switch from baby to toddler or something. He’s not technically toddling yet, but he’s crawling very fast to get into EVERYTHING.

And then I hurt my toe. It’s really not serious… kind of a massive stubbed toe, that may or may not lose its toenail. But when you’re sleep deprived and the bigger baby is trying to chew on computer cords and the tiny baby just puked down your shirt, a stubbed toe is just too much.

So between all that excitement and spending copious amounts of time holding Phoebe, we haven’t had a chance to give you guys an update on our adoption fundraising.

A couple really exciting things have happened!

First: In a week’s time, you guys have given about $5,000. That’s amazing! We are so grateful!

Second: We received an interest free adoption loan that allowed us to pay the agency their fees. This is a big blessing!

You can help us pay back this adoption loan by giving here. As we return the funds, the money goes directly to finance other families’ adoptions. So your donations are the gift that keeps giving to adoption!

Remember, every donation of $15 or more will receive a tiny little baby, hand-painted by me! (For those of you who’ve already given, yours will be coming shortly, as soon as we are awake enough to remember where the Post Office is!)

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Pretty soon we’ll be sharing some exciting fundraising stuff that will brighten your autumn and might even help you out with your Christmas shopping! So stay tuned.

 

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Now We are 6

So one minute you’re sweeping the floors and the next you’re finding out you might have a baby.

Well, that was our Thursday night, anyway.

The agency called us about a baby girl that had been born the day before. I mean, normally with adoption, you have at least a few weeks to prepare. But she was already here!

At midnight we got the confirmation that her birth mom had picked us to be her family and we needed to be on a plane to Utah the next day. So that was the end of sleeping.

Do you know how much you can get done on a surge of adrenalin at midnight? I cleaned the bathroom while Chris contacted our friend to see if she could watch the kids. I packed clothes while Chris ran to Wal-Mart to get last minute essentials. I made TO DO lists while Chris booked a flight. I did laundry while Chris did the dishes.

And then we laid in bed, wide awake.

Because we were getting a baby in less than 24 hours. A BABY, people!

Since we were running on about 2 hours of sleep, the next day was crazy. I mean, with 3 kids staying at home, you don’t just pick up and leave. You write letters to the school, and try to have some food in the fridge and list out their schedule and how to make bottles. And you make sure all the school uniforms are clean. But no matter how much you plan, it turns out Enoch has no socks just as the weather turns cold.

Once we got through all that, flying wasn’t much better, because they decided to leave us sit on the Tarmac for an hour, LIKE THEY DIDN’T KNOW WE HAD A BABY TO MEET.

When we finally got to Utah (about 10:30 pm, Louisville time), we headed directly to the hospital. We walked into the nursery with our social worker. And there she was! Just laying in her little hospital crib, so tiny (6lbs, 12oz and 18in), waiting for us.

It was kind of surreal, because everyone was just talking all calm and normal and we were meeting our daughter.

We named her Phoebe Cheyanne Glory Davis. And she is our girl.

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Because this all happened so fast, we’d hardly gotten started with fundraising. We need to come up with $15,000 pretty quickly. Just over the weekend, we had people already give $2,300 which has totally blow us away. Thank you all so much!

If you’d like to help us too or share our link with your friends, head over to adopttogether.org/thedavisadoption. Thanks a million!

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Hey White People, Let’s Talk About Ferguson

When we adopted our son, who is African American, I began to quietly read blogs, books and news related to his culture. A lot of new ideas opened up to me, many of which I’m only beginning to grasp. It’s humbling to learn how little I may understand the perspective and experiences of my fellow Americans.

In light of this, I’ve been very troubled by some of the responses of white people to the events transpiring in Ferguson, MO.

Our Black fellow-Americans are finding a voice to let the nation know that, to an extent, this is their every day. Every day they are afraid of being guilty until proven innocent. Every day they are afraid of suspicion based on their skin color or hairstyle. Every day they are afraid that they are viewed as less than human. Every day they are afraid someone will shoot first and ask questions later.

They are telling our nation this and saying, “Now do you see?”

Unfortunately, I don’t think we are listening very well.

Instead, we’re talking. We’re making excuses and dismissing their feelings as either paranoia or that they are “doing” something to bring this on themselves. We’re trying to point out the problems in the Black community (which is not our job). We’re trying to explain away what law enforcement’s intentions might have been (again, not our job).

I think we are tempted to diminish their concerns because we’ve never personally felt what Black Americans are describing to us. So we invalidate their experiences in our minds.

I flew on an airplane a month or so after September 11th. It was a scary. There were military personnel with machine guns stationed in the airports and you could be searched at many different points, even as you boarded the plane. Though I knew I’d done nothing wrong, I was nervous every time I came to a security checkpoint, because if I forgot I had a nail clippers in my purse, I might find myself getting strip-searched in a holding cell (at least that’s how my 18-year-old mind played it out).

Friends, this is what Black people are telling us they feel EVERY DAY. We need to listen.

As I see the pictures of the extreme military-style police presence in Ferguson, I keep thinking back to the civil rights movement, and how the police in Birmingham turned fire hoses and dogs on the peaceful protestors. When the images from that day hit the newspapers, it shocked many in our nation into action.

But I wonder how many others read the newspapers and thought, “Well, that’s their problem. They shouldn’t have been marching anyway. If they had just complied with law enforcement, they wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

And yet in the broad scope of history, we look back and think, “Why did people just stand by and let this happen? What was wrong with us?”

This is why we must listen more and speak less. We don’t understand the struggle, because we haven’t lived it. But we can humbly learn from those that are finding their voice, as the nations’ eye is on Missouri. Maybe we won’t know how to help solve the problem today or tomorrow. But if we listen and learn, our hope is that our country’s dark history doesn’t have to repeat itself.

Photo Credit: “Birmingham campaign dogs” by Bill Hudson, of the Associated Press. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Birmingham campaign via Wikipedia.
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