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Obviously I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to take care of curly hair…
Mine is VERY straight and thin and completely different from the hair of my Ethiopian children.
So I started to get information before they got home, but as they say, one thing is theory and another completely different, practice.
I’ve never felt the texture of African hair before. After all, you can’t go walking on the street asking people: Can I touch your hair?
I had to wait until they were with me to see what all this thing about black hair was about.
I still haven’t taken any of them to a hair stylist and I haven’t experimented much since Feven’s hair is still too short and too delicate to mess with.
But I’ve learned the basics, by reading and also by trying.
Feven has a hair I would describe as “cotton candy”, light, fluffy, delicate and thin. I love it! It’s truly angel’s hair…
Even when I knew something about African hair I’ve never expected it to be so soft and so nice to touch.
And I already learned how to keep it free from tangles, and well moisturized.
I tried different oils but most of them didn’t work well on her hair, they left it too oily or too dry.  I tried the Pink conditioner, Just for Me conditioner, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil and finally I settled with Shea Butter.
Curly GirlIt keeps her hair moisturized but not oily, untangled, free of lint, and the curls are beautifully formed. I wash her hair once a week or maybe more if she has been messing with food (Hey, she’s still a baby!) and I only use a little of a mild baby shampoo to wash it.
Then I apply the Shea Butter that makes the hair very easy to comb and leaves it very soft.
I learned a lot about African hair and its care by reading some books. I found two of them very helpful.
One is called Curly girl by Lorraine Massey and talks about all kinds of curly hair from corkscrew to wavy curls. It is a fun book to read, nicely illustrated and with samples of styles and many natural recipes for curly hair.
Going natural The second one is Going Natural, how to fall in love with nappy hair by Mireille Liong-A-Kong. Even when it’s a book designed to teach African American women how to “go natural” with their hair (that means how to leave behind all chemical treatments and recover a natural curly healthy African hair) it’s very informative since it talks about characteristics of African hair, care, which products to use and which ones not. It also has hair styles samples and home made recipes of hair products.
For example, this is a table from the book about the difference between African and Straight hair:

African Hair
 Straight hair
Has curls, kinks and coils Is just straight
Absorbs light Reflects light
Grows up Grows down
Stands up Lays down
Shrinks Hardly shrinks
Excellent for braiding styles Poor for braiding styles

For white adoptive parents it’s very useful to know how different African hair is, since if you don’t treat it right you can really end up damaging it.
There are other books about children’s hair care and styles, but I still haven’t found one that has good and easy to follow instructions. I only checked these two:

It's all good hair
It’s All Good Hair: The Guide to Styling and Grooming Black Children’s Hair by Michele N-k Collison
Kids talk hair
Kids Talk Hair: An Instruction Book for Grown-Ups & Kids by Pamela Ferrell

It’s all good hair has examples of hair styles and brief instructions of how to make them and Kids talk Hair has beautiful pictures but not many directions.
There is another one called Kinki Kreations: A Parent’s Guide to Natural Black Hair Care for Kids by Jena Renee Williams but it seems to be out of print.
I’m going to talk about books about hair for reading to small children in another post.