What Happened When I Gave My New Daughter a Doll in her Orphanage

When you adopt, you never know what to expect about the personality of your new addition, their past, or how they were treated by their birth families before whatever tragedy occurred that landed them in the orphanage.  We were nervous about meeting Naomi, so we brought a little American Girl doll as a gift.  She was black, with dark curly hair.  It was the closest thing we could get to replicating what we imagined Naomi’s African hair might look like.  (Turns out, her head was shaved, because the orphanage couldn’t maintain that much hair!)

Anyway, when we handed our daughter her new — and only — doll, she was delighted. And we were delighted to see her take it from our hands, put the doll on her shoulder, and soothingly talk to her in Amharic.

“She’s been loved,” I said to David.  “Look at how sweetly she treats that doll.”

It was a very poignant moment for us.

Every time I see Naomi babying a doll, it takes me back to that place — standing in the orphanage with tears in my eyes, feeling relief and utter joy.  Though she doesn’t really prefer her black doll, she loves to be mommy to any and all dolls we have laying around the house.  This photo really captures her tenderness towards them.

We’re very thankful for our American girl and her American Girls.

Related: Dear Black Women, Please Stop Giving Me Advice About my Adopted Daughter’s Hair

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About Nancy French

Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.


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