A video of a Caucasian father named Will stroking the hair of his Black adoptive infant daughter went viral on “Black TikTok,” landing him in a controversial situation. In the now-deleted video, the father inquired about how to care for the texture of his daughter’s hair.
He said, “I am hoping to get this TikTok over to Black TikTok and any Black parents. We have adopted a Black baby, her name is Zoë, and I don’t know what to do for her hair. I have this little brush, I have something from Shea Moisture. I really don’t know what to use so please, any Black parents or anyone who knows what to do with Black children’s hair, please help me in the comments. Thank you.”
In an odd turn of events, though, the video spurred a discussion on social media, with some people applauding the father’s curiosity and others saying he was just using the infant daughter as a “prop.”
Netizens debated the impacts of transracial adoption, with some claiming the White father and his husband adopted Zoë for power. Others questioned the couple’s decision to raise a Black child as non-Black parents and why they didn’t take these factors into account.
“I could have the best intentions and still mess up,” the father said to NBC News in reaction to the regrettable outcome of his post. In the face of criticism, Will stated that his last name would not be revealed to preserve the privacy of his family. He went on to say that he regretted exposing his daughter “to the world in that way” and conveying the incorrect message through his video.
“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,” he remarked.
He told NBC News he and his husband have talked about race and the ways racism will affect Zoë’s life. He added that he is in a community with Black people and lives in a diverse neighborhood, so his friends have given him advice and guidance about caring for Zoë.
Will explained that, in his excitement, he went to TikTok for additional help. He said it in response to online claims that he did not begin to think about race until after Zoë’s adoption.
“People said I viewed her as a prop or accessory and not a human being, and that’s not the case at all,” he lamented. “That’s not how I view my daughter at all.”
He claimed that during the past several days, he has been open to receiving criticism and learning from Black adoptees and parents.
He said that in a matter of days, he has gained a better understanding of the difficulties involved with transracial adoption and that he will keep learning and elevating the voices of those who have experienced it.
“I will continue to use every resource at my disposal to raise Zoë to be the best person she can be with the best parents we can be,” he said.
White people adopting Black children, which is a form of transracial adoption, usually sparks debate. Most adoptive parents in the U.S. are white, and about 30% of adoptions are transracial, according to research cited by NBC News. There are concerns that Black children with white parents often find it difficult to develop their own racial identities.