In a since-deleted TikTok video, one new dad called on “Black TikTok” for help with his infant daughter’s hair. The request sparked a debate among commenters, who questioned why Will, who is white, did not adequately prepare for parenting a Black baby girl, among other concerns.
“We have adopted a Black baby, her name is Zoë, and I don’t know what to do for her hair,” he said in the video, according to NBC News. “Please, any Black parents or anyone who knows what to do with Black children’s hair, please help me in the comments.”
Fellow TikTok users and commenters have stitched the video and discussed the implications of transracial adoption, wondering if Will and his husband adopted Zoë for social media brownie points, or if they had fully considered the weight of what it means to adopt a Black child as non-Black parents. For his part, Will said he regrets the message the video sent, as well as exposing his daughter “to the world in that way.”
“I could have the best intentions and still mess up,” he said. “I’ve learned that I need to be very intentional about the community that surrounds us and her on a consistent basis and have people who look like her talk to her. I want Zoë to grow up to love herself. That includes her personality, her skin color, her hair, everything.”
White saviorism within adoption is a topic that experts and adoptees themselves have discussed for decades, with many arguing that taking a child from their culture contributes to stripping them of their background or identity, as white parents aren’t always equipped to handle the racism, discrimination, and biases their adoptive children will face. If they’re raised in predominantly white communities, they might not feel they have anyone to turn to who can truly understand what they’re going through. Of course, social media exploitation in transracial adoption is a modern phenomenon that puts a magnifying glass on a child that they didn’t sign up for or consent to, as is evidenced by Will’s viral video.
“People said I viewed her as a prop or accessory and not a human being, and that’s not the case at all,” he told the outlet, calling the commentary “heartbreaking” and adding, “that’s not how I view my daughter at all.”
He says he’s taken the response from the video to heart and has been educating himself on the realities of transracial adoption, which is a great start, albeit perhaps too delayed. Here’s hoping that sweet Zoë—and all other children of color with white parents—know how loved and special they are, and how important their identity is. Being colorblind will only serve to diminish them, which should be the exact opposite of what every parent strives for.