It reeked.

Even though she’d opened a window and cranked up the exhaust fan, the hair dye filled the small bathroom with the pungent odor of chemicals.

I sure hope this covers the gray…

You were supposed to get gray hair from having grandchildren. Or, for those early-achievers, from raising teenagers. She had no children. For ten years, she and her husband had tried. They even had an empty room all set up and ready for a child of any age, and a framed certificate that declared they were qualified to be foster parents.

Waiting for her hair to dry took forever. The chemicals fried her hair enough as it was, and she didn’t want to add to the damage by using a hair dryer. But she wouldn’t be able to see the true color until her locks were completely dry.

Finally, she looked at the results.

Too dark, but otherwise OK. I can’t get lighter unless I dye it blonde first, and I don’t think my hair can take that much abuse.

She wanted to match the color. That perfect, natural red that went with the most adorable freckled face with missing teeth. They were going to have another of their playdates… those outings with the little girl they planned to bring home as their own.

At six years old, the child knew that her “Takes-Care-of-You-Mommy” was going to help find her a forever family. All their playdates so far had been wonderful. The couple was ready to embrace her and the immensely unfair baggage she’d been saddled with. Although the official declaration had yet to be made, the little girl suspected, and maybe even hoped, that these nice people who took her out to feed Cheerios to ducks would become those forever parents the Takes-Care-of-You-Mommy talked about.

And then it happened.

In a crowd of strangers, onlookers seeing the red hair and making the obvious connection.

Then someone told her “Go ask your Mommy…” and she didn’t hesitate. She didn’t correct them.

She was theirs.

This was written in response to the Write on Edge prompt about a makeover. In a strange twist of fate, although I usually avoid memoir if at all possible, this time the prompt inspired me to write about an actual moment in my life. I did fictionalize it a bit (I’d already been dying my hair red for several years before we met the girl who would become our daughter) but the idea of it is all true.

Now she is a teenager, and giving me even more gray hairs.

And I still dye them red.

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