Jackie Gillard: Conceived in my Heart


Was This Mom Exploiting Her Children?

A Mother's Efforts to Support Her Daughters Might be Misunderstood

Kelly Wagner daughters

The interwebs are recently abuzz with a series of pictures taken, and publicly shared, by mom Kim Kelly-Wagner. She has two daughters whom she adopted in China, and as they've grown from the babies they were when she adopted them to their current ages of 13 and 7, she's had more than her share of insensitive comments.

So, she decided to take a series of photographs of her daughters holding signs that share some of these comments and questions and post the pics on her Facebook. 

The pictures are not à la Jimmy Fallon's celebrity guests reading mean tweets. They are not funnydespite the girls laughing or smiling in some of themand the signs convey a more important messagecomments hurt, even ones that are said with good intentions. It's a good message; I too have fielded some eyebrow-raising questions and comments with my daughter listening in, as have most parents via adoption. 

But did Kelly-Wagner go too far by involving her children? Some say yes. Critics have called her pictures exploitative, with one commenter describing the photos as a "parent fail." 

The mother insists her daughters were willing participants and fully aware of what the purpose of the photo shoot was. They even helped create the list of comments they wanted to use for the signs. Kelly-Wagner feels it was an empowering exercise for her girls and gave them a good opportunity to discuss the comments, the perceived intentions, and possible responses. She provided the example of a recent exchange when a stranger noted that she "could never love someone I didn't give birth to" in front of Kelly-Wagner's eldest daughter. 

The daughter's response? "Oh, did you give birth to your husband?" and she walked away.

So what's your take? Are these pictures educational and empowering, or exploitative?

If you're interested in learning more about adoption, try my post about adoption education resources or my post about the adoption triad.