I have truly been overwhelmed with the outpouring of kind words and support for my family from literally thousands of people around the world in response to my photo series "Things Said To Or About My Adopted Daughters" - thank you! No words can properly express the feeling of goodwill these comments have inspired in my family. Understandably, I have been asked many questions in the last two weeks, as well, I feel that there are several points that need to be clarified. With your patience, I will attempt to address some of them.
Some have been concerned that in our series, and so in our lives, we are focusing only on the negative. Let me assure you that these comments have not, nor ever will, define us. Our intention in doing this project was to enlighten and educate; to hopefully remind us that words can build up, or tear down; that they are powerful and that we have a responsibility to use them wisely. Not once have my daughters been brought low because of any comment made by a stranger, they realize that the things said are ignorant and treat them as such. My daughters are confidant and happy individuals, and the loves of my life. We have heard many times more positive words spoken to us by strangers than negative, and now have thousands more. You are all incredible human beings and I love hearing your stories and about your families!
As well, a few are under the impression that all of the pictured questions/statements were spoken by people in our home town, or by those who live in southern states only, this is not the case, all, with the exception of one, were gleaned over the years from various parts of the east coast and Midwest; from Ohio to Florida, as well as various parts of Virginia, our home state. No one area of the country, or world for that matter, is free from ignorance or those lacking manners.
There have been many who have questioned the wisdom of this project, or the negative impact that it might have on my daughters. These things were either said to my children directly, or in their presence, they are therefore very aware of the things said about them. I am not the one potentially being harmed here, it is my children, and it is for them that I decided this project was important. I believed that it would put the power back into their hands. They are taking the words that were thrown at them as weapons (intentionally or not) and turning them into tools. I also asked their permission to produce and post this project. Our intention was to educated and hold a mirror to those whose questions felt invasive. Both children, especially the 13 year old, found it cathartic. It opened up the conversation further as to how to reply each time this happens, as well as reaffirm the love they receive from our family and their rightful place in it.
The project was conceived by myself and my eldest daughter with both girls permission. We decided to create the series to shine a spotlight on ignorance as well as to empower my daughters. Telling my children to "just ignore it" in my experience does nothing but ask them to push down their very legitimate feelings instead of responding to help make the world a place in which people are held accountable for their careless words and actions. I am trying to teach my children to act rather than react; to hold a mirror up to ignorance, not try to ignore it. These harmful words were spoken to or about them in their presence by adults, which can be intimidating, I am endeavoring to put the power back into their hands. This is their passive resistance; their protest sign.
But what gives the series its power is also what brings it criticism. I certainly did not expect the level of attention that this series has created, but I am glad that it has grown into a world-wide conversation. I appreciate your feelings and reactions to my work, however, when it comes to criticizing my choices as my daughters mother let me say to you that they are my daughters, I know them better than anyone, you do not know them at all. I am not trying to be harsh, I am stating a truth, that I am parenting them, not the general public. Your feelings and the way that you would react to the same situation had you been faced with it has absolutely no baring on how my children will feel about it. I am certainly not a perfect person or a perfect parent, however I am the one who has the best intentions for my daughters. Everyone has an opinion, and their right to it, and no one needs to agree with me, that's okay, we created this series for us, for our family, for our healing, for our reasons. If others choose to take it to heart, whether for good or ill, so be it, but our hope was that it might enlighten, educate and start the conversation. I know there are those, including friends, who would not have chosen to do the same, and I both appreciate that fact and respect it, because you know what is best for your children; please offer the same courtesy to my family and our choices.
I have found that there are some who either do not believe, or choose not to believe, that our experiences are true, I assure you that they are. And thousands of families and adoptees have shared their experiences as well, having heard the same words, and in many cases worse, than we have shared. There is no deceit in this project.
To those who have asked why we simply do not take the opportunity to educate those who have asked these questions; trust me we have and we do, rarely do we simply walk away. When my eldest was a baby, and I a new mother, I would talk extensively about the adoption process to those who asked. But after years of doing this, and the fact that my children are now older and can understand what is being said, we just want to be able to do our shopping in peace, and the questions have become more of an irritant. I don't believe that it is fair to think that it is the responsibility of my children to educate every rude or nosy person who feels they deserve to know their story, it is theirs to share if they want to, or if they do not. They wished to be in the photos in order to give a face to whom the words were directing, and I feel that it makes the series more powerful. Educators and adoption agencies have asked to use the series for educational purposes, and I think that is fantastic, exactly what they should be used for. We are not looking for sympathy, we are hoping for awareness and a better world.
Please, remember that I was interviewed by a reporter only for the article posted at Yahoo. I was asked questions, I answered them, and the reporter wrote the article. The title of the article uses the word “racist” - that is the reporter’s interpretation. Though some of the comments made to my daughters may very well be racist, I choose not to use that word in general, mostly because I do not wish to judge intent. Also, the article states that I receive negative comments daily, that is not the case. When I first adopted thirteen years ago a red-headed, white women carrying an Asian baby in her arms did in fact draw a lot of attention, especially in the rural area where we live, and I would receive daily comments, mostly out of curiosity, normally positive. But now, many years on from that time, international adoption is more common, so there are fewer questions, and my daughters, being older, draw less notice. I believe them calling me ‘Mama’ in public usually puts the matter to rest. Questions I receive now are, more often than not, from those interested in adoption themselves, and to them I am more than willing to tell of my experience.
I had no way of knowing, nor control, over the series going viral. I certainly did not expect the level of attention that it has created. It has appeared all over the world, generally, without my consent for its use. There has only been one large media site that has asked legal permission to use my photos and project, and that was Upworthy, who I thank for being so professional.
Lastly, know that your words of support are greatly appreciated, I would like to express my gratitude for your taking the time to contact me with your kind words. To all, I wish you nothing but the best. I respect your opinion, even if it differs from my own. Blessings to you and your families. KKW