The Hair Coloring Gene

I have always been fascinated by the nature/nurture discussions in adoption.  By nature I refer to what most would consider genetics, the aspects of one personality that are inherited from your gene pool. Nurture of course being the cultural morals, values, temperaments, judgements, etc. that you learn by living with the people who raise you (think primary socialization).

Mothers and children separated by adoption don’t get to see the nature aspects of themselves until, and only if, reunion occurs. While I have not been granted the honor of meeting my daughter again in person, I have been able to observe her online persona and even with that limited viewing can see so many ways we are similar.

One of the most amusing ways (and I am not sure this is nature but it has been amusingly suggested) is our love of hair color. I don’t mean one color, I mean all colors (see photo above for a sampling of my own).  In fact, when I found my daughter so many years ago, one of the first things a friend and maternity home resident to me was “Who knew hair color was inherited?”.  She was commenting on the pictures of my daughter I had shared, pictures that showed daughter with blonde hair, dark hair, red hair, highlighted hair. More recently daughter and I have both experimented with purple hair.  She is currently a very bleached blonde, a color I can never achieve (well, not if I wish to keep my hair on my head).  I was once blonde. It was the highest lift I could achieve without bleach and it ended up this corn color.  With my very fair skin, freckles, green eyes, dark brows, it was NOT attractive. My daughter is able to carry it in a way I could not.

Purple Hair

My hair is currently one solid boring color.  I struggled with the purple taking and staying. It requires a double process of bleaching and then coloring.  I was frustrated with the fading, the amount of money and time I was investing and NOT getting what I wanted. Unlike my daughter, I pay someone to do mine every six weeks and it is not cheap.  I do regret ever leaving the red family. I had such fun there! My vision for the future is to continue growing my hair until my surgery shaved head has grown in a bit more (due to my spine surgery the doctors shaved several inches up into my hair-line totally bald, an undercut). Once the hair has gotten a length I tolerate cutting it all to, I may be able to get more creative again with hair color.  For now I am relying on clip in color and same color extensions. I am also playing with makeup and moving towards more of a Kat Von D color palette.

Did you find you and your child shared certain traits? What were/are they? Did any take you by surprise?  By comparison, did you also see your child’s other  bio parent in them as well?

I would love to hear your stories.

16 Thoughts.

  1. My son and I share a love of creativity, music (music runs in my family) and a very similar quiet at times and reserved temperament. We also look so much alike, as his coloring is exactly like mine. I actually stopped coloring my hair recently, as my natural strawberry blonde color is the same as both of my children.

    Sadly, so much that makes us similar is masked by how he has been indoctrinated and brainwashed by fundamentalists, who have tried their best to mold them into who and what they are; and not who and what he truly was born to be. I can’t look at his online persona much anymore, it is so painful to witness at times.

      • Stephanie – Please don’t apologize for your experience or your feelings. Adoption dehumanizes you enough. Don’t do it to yourself. You deserve better. No apology needed.. Hugs to you.

  2. You know me and red, Suz… I started dyeing my hair red back in college, well before I began to consider adoption search seriously. I didn’t know why, it just felt right, and looked right too with my complexion. Over a decade later I finally got a chance to see the one and only picture of my mother I have ever seen. Yup, dyed red hair. Gave me chills.

    For me, the red hair thing is also tied to heritage. I started dyeing my hair after discovering a love of Celtic and Irish culture. And yup again, when I did DNA testing it came back 100% British Isles.

    Considering my mother and I are not in contact, that knowledge of red hair is something I hold dear. It makes me feel that connection to something beyond myself that, as an adoptee, has always been missing – something she and I share.

    • T – I am inclined to agree with you. While I am 50/50 Polish and Irish, my coloring is clearly my moms side of the family (100 Irish). However, my moms family is the stereotypical red hair, fair, etc. Irish and what we call Black Irish. Thus,I get away with the reds and the near black. My natural, at least these days, is pretty much near black. I can also relate to your feeling bonded or connected over something like haircolor. I felt the same and hoped my daughter did too. Since I am the only hair coloring nutter in my immediately family, it really warmed my heart (and regularly still does) to see all my daughters color changes.

  3. I have a seeming inability to make my hair behave in any way, shape, or form. It wouldn’t hold curls when rolled, back when I was a kid. If I got bangs cut they always split down the middle because of my cowlick in the middle of my forehead’s hairline. If I employed a hairsprayed style I had to use Aqua Net or it’d all fall out by halfway through the day. Et cetera. And if we did home haircuts, God help me because they NEVER turned out. They made my hair twice as unruly.

    My son, it transpires, is the same way. Hair that refuses to behave. I will probably not see all the possible permutations of this unless he turns out to be a cross-dresser; statistically speaking, not terribly likely. But every picture I’ve seen of him, and the few personal interactions I’ve had since my former in-laws took him from me, has featured hair that refuses to be tamed–and if it’s a home haircut, it’s twice as messy.

    And neither of us has curly hair, that’s the hilarious part.

    • Dana – Your commented reminded me of something, possibly the only thing, my daughter ever asked me from a genetic stand point. She was lamenting over her poker straight hair that can never keep a curl (sorry about that, daughter) and was pondering getting a perm. I said DONT DO IT and told her my perm horror stories. To my knowledge she never did. : )

  4. My son, Tim, and I share the same hair color; a dull, drab, dirty brown color. Even after it’s washed, it looks dirty because there are no highlights. It looks like a one process, Just-For-Men color. Which is why for years I used Sun-In and laid out in the sun. I’ve been a red head for about 20 years now and most people think I was born with this color. That’s probably the one obvious thing that my son got.

    He’s a pretty slow processor, like his dad; mulling and chewing on a thought before acting. While I’m a very quick processor and “get it” very quickly. My son and I tend to speak a very different language that drives my quick processing mind nuts. I find that he’s a lot like my dad in many ways as well. I know that men say that they don’t get the female mind, but I, for one, don’t get the male mind.

  5. Here is a “hair don’t” story. I’m conservative with hair color, just going a little lighter and covering the grey. When I was going to meet my surrendered son and wife for dinner for the first time, I tried to put some highlights in my hair myself rather than letting the hairdresser do it as usual. Big mistake. I ended up looking like an orange and brown and yellow skunk!

    My hair emergency was rescued by my girlfriend who is very good with hair color, makeup, etc and she was able to make me look decent again for the big meeting. Whew!!! I was telling son and wife all about this at dinner, and learned that he had once had his brown hair blue, and also tipped with blond, as did two of my other sons when that surfer look was in fashion. His wife who is Italian has beautiful long black hair which she has kept natural.

  6. Suz I read your blog occasionally and enjoy it and don’t at all mean to be rude but was a little surprised by this? Do you really think that hair dyeing is related to a gene? I am not being critical here but in my own situation I am very critical of myself in these thoughts, maybe I am being too skeptical, but do u ever think that maybe you are letting you’re daughter influence you, or that you are subconsciously trying to be more like her? I worry that I do these things too often so I am not trying to be rude but wonder what u think and if you ever wonder about these things as well.

    • Haha Judy. You make me laugh. Let me first remind you that I came first. That is, I was born before my daughter, I gave birth to her, I had these traits before she did and everyone that knows me knows that. So yes, if she randomly seems to have them as well, I think it is perfectly okay to muse that there is a connection. If you are indeed someone who is torched by adoption, surely you understand that.

    • Judi – Came back to offer the following. If you are genuinely curious about genetics in adoption, I suggest you consider reading LaVonne Stifflers book Synchronicity and Adoption: The Genetic Connection of Adoptees and Birthparents. It is fascinating stuff.

  7. Not to veer off topic, but I can certainly attest to the fact that Suz has been coloring herr hair for as long as I can remember. Her unique”funky” style that I always tried to emulate but could never get it right (I’ve since accepted my true conservative self lol). She’s a pretty cool big sister.

    • LOL Sister. You also make me laugh and smile. Seriously though, noting at all wrong with the Little House on the Prairie esthetic. You carry it well. (HA! Kidding! I am reminded of that photo you and Jules with your floral skirts, pearls and lace tops all buttoned up and me with my cleavage, deep V neckline emerald green dress and massive earrings. What can I say? I prefer Moms explanation that I am the modern day Julie Gramma. Hugs)

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