According to Patricia Williams’ mother-in-law, she and her husband have, “a special little fairy,” in their family. Redd, born in 2012 was born with white hair. Interestingly, it took a few months to realize, he’d actually been born with an appearance altering condition.
Not Alarmed by White Hair
“At the time, we should’ve realized there was something extra special with him when nurses (who were not our nurses) were coming in to see the ‘baby with the white hair’.” Mom, Patricia shared. However, both parents had been born with blonde hair, and so had Redd’s oldest brother Gage, therefore no one was concerned with the baby’s white hair. They were just thrilled and proud to show off their baby.
About 2 months after Redd’s birth, Patricia and husband Dale were sitting together at breakfast when Patricia noticed something odd. Her baby’s eyes would “track back and forth” and he was always looking upward. “I would try and block his view with my hands to see if he would divert his eyes down, but nothing ever worked.”
She asked Dale to Google it, and they learned this is a common symptom of albinism. Redd had pale skin, white hair, and of course, the “tracking eyes”. He also had seemingly red eyes, depending on the lighting. Patricia, who’d never heard the word Albinism before wasn’t convinced that her husband, or Google were correct. The pair researched the condition, watching YouTube videos to gain a better understanding of their “white haired” baby. Patricia, still a little skeptical, agreed to meet with their pediatrician. The first couple visits Redd hadn’t opened his eyes, another possible sign. People with Albinism have lighter eyes, and extreme sensitivity to light. The now a little concerned pediatrician then referred them to an optometrist and genetic specialists.
White Hair Isn’t the Only Sign
Interestingly, the genetics specialist was able to diagnose Redd without any testing, just by looking at his physical features, like the white hair. Despite being a condition that affects people globally, there are few people who know a lot about or really understand the condition. Redd was born with Oculocutaneous Albinism. The most common form of Albinism and occurs as a result of both parents carrying the gene, meaning it’s recessive. There are 3 types of albinism, some less concerning than others. For example, this variation affects skin pigmentation and vision, meanwhile Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome can cause lung and bowel diseases. Other symptoms can include social or emotional hardships.
The optometrist explained to the family that red had iris transillumination, nystagmus, and strabismus. Further disclosing, Redd may never be able to get a driver’s license. “I felt as though I had just been struck in the stomach with a bowling ball. I remember crying all the way out to the parking lot and the entire drive home.” Patricia sadly recalled. Patricia said that on many occasions, they got public attention because, “people [were] curious about his white hair.”
White Hair Babies Bring Change
Due to his light sensitivity, the family would go to parks and beaches in the evening, around dawn so he could still play and enjoy the same things his brother did. Which actually, became more enjoyable to the family because few to no other people were there during that time of day. Other minor adjustments have also been made, like always packing extra sunscreen and hats.
Sometime shortly after the birth of Redd, Patricia and Dale welcomed a third son into the world, Wolfgang. He wasn’t born with white hair, instead he had light brown hair and olive skin, so they immediately knew he didn’t have the same condition.
However, when 4th son, Rockwell was born the doctor said, “Whoa! He has some really blonde hair.” Patricia knew immediately. Her 4th son would share the same traits, and possibly the same condition, as his older brother Redd.
Unfortunately, when children are born with certain conditions, they’re subject to more than just the physical aspects. People can be cruel and judgmental, so skin color variations, scars, or birth marks, will often elicit some kind of reaction from others. Patricia disclosed that, “adjusting the reactions of others” is something they will likely deal with, “throughout our lives”. She said it’s, “a work in progress”, but that she and her husband, “want to be good examples to our children on how to spread awareness about albinism in a positive light and not to be embarrassed or ashamed to discuss it. By keeping a positive, open dialect, we believe this is significant in helping them understand how to be vocal and advocate their needs while navigating not only through school but also through life.“
Creating a Loving Environment
“We have tried our best to raise Redd to be just like any of our other boys (and we will raise Rockwell to be the same), not limiting him in any way or discouraging him from things that would be a little frightening. Sometimes I still catch myself wanting to hold Redd back or jump in and stop him from doing something dangerous.” Patricia explained. “But then my husband gives me a gentle reminder that he’ll be all right … and I see his little face full of determination and grit … and wanting so much to be like his brothers, that I have to remember to take a step back (within a safe arm’s reach) and let him go for it.”
While people born with certain conditions do have differing appearances, social skills, and needs, everyone still deserves to be treated with humanity. A person with unyielding love and compassion. Someone who is incredibly mathematical or scientific. Or a person with a thirst for life and adventure. Either way, everyone deserves the opportunity to thrive and follow their dreams. The white hair Williams boys seem to be fully supported by their family. As such, they will likely go on to have incredibly bright futures alongside their 2 other brothers and loving parents.
- “Albinism.” Mayo Clinic
- “Baby mocked for having white hair – years later, he looks perfectly happy and healthy.” Newsner. Rameeza Ahmad. May 17, 2023.
- “I Gave Birth to the Babies With ‘White’ Hair, & I Couldn’t Be Prouder.” Cafe Mom. December 20, 2022.