Life was perfect for Ebony Lumpkin of Virginia Beach, Virginia. She was a member of the United States Navy and pregnant with her second child.
But then life threw her for a loop.
“My sister in law took the ultrasound pictures that showed a perfectly healthy beautiful baby boy. With lots of hair. What we didn’t know, was that hair was RED! Yes, you heard that right. Red hair. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could the nurses. As an African American woman, that was the last thing I was expecting!” she told Love What Matters.
Ebony was in such disbelief that she told the doctors that he just needed to be washed off.
“No mama, you’ve got a little ginger,” the nurse said.
Everyone was in awe of the situation. Partly because Ebony’s son was gorgeous and because an African American woman just gave birth to a white red-headed baby.
“Trust me, I was shocked too. Once they put him in my arms, I’d forgotten all about the hair color until someone brought it up. I still do and he’s 6 now. Nurses and doctors from all over the OB floor came to see him. They had never seen anything like it,” Ebony recalled.
Now Ebony regularly finds herself explaining that Matthew is, in fact, her biological son and that he wasn’t adopted or albino.
“No one ever believes he’s mine. Or if they do, the next assumption is, ‘Oh he must get his red hair from his father.’ Actually, both parents have to carry the MC1R gene for the child to have it,” Ebony said.
She says her son loves the attention that he gets over red locks.
But it’s not always positive attention that they get.
“An older white woman saw me walk away with him and called the police on me. She thought I was stealing that woman’s child,” Ebony said.
“I was questioned by the police. I just came from the doctor’s office so I had his birth certificate with me. The police officer didn’t believe me. He was about to call child services and arrest me when the young lady who had helped me saw what was happening. If she wasn’t there to help, I don’t know what would have happened! It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced.”
But the most hurtful experience came when Matthew was just 5-years-old and his classmates told him that Ebony couldn’t be his real mother because she was black and didn’t have red hair.
He spent the next week asking red headed women if they were his mom.
That’s when Ebony’s oldest son came up with the idea for the whole family to dye their hair red like Matthew’s.
“It really touched my heart that instead of saying, ‘let’s change Matthew’s hair to be like ours,’ he said ‘let’s change our hair to be like his!’ That was such a selfless act coming from a 7-year-old! As soon as Matthew saw the reveal, he immediately said, ‘Now you look like me!’ It made me the happiest I’d been in such a long time,” Ebony said.
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Despite the whispers and the explanations she has to make to strangers, Ebony says her boys, Matthew and Adam, are the best of friends and this couldn’t make her happier.
You can learn more about these boys and their journey on their Instagram page here.
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