Quick, name all the thoughtless, insensitive things you can say to an adopted child. Kim Kelley-Wagner's daughters, who were adopted from China, have heard it all over the years, on a daily basis, from the well-intentioned to the downright hateful. In response to the barrage of rude and ignorant comments, Kelley-Wegner created a photo project, starring her daughters, to show the power of these words.
Mom's Photo Series Spotlights Racist Comments Directed at Daughters
The photos series, posted publicly on Facebook and entitled "Things said to or about my adopted daughters," feature 13-year-old Liliana and 7-year-old Meika holding signs bearing actual phrases people have said to them or their mother regarding their adopted identity. The girls actually sat down and made a list of the stupid, inconsiderate and misguided remarks they've endured:
"One time, I was at the mechanic and the counter guy said to one of the girls, 'You know that's not your real sister, right?'" Kelley-Wagner recounts. "His coworker rushed over and apologized for him. On another occasion, a bookstore clerk asked, 'Um, does she look like her real father?'"At the very least, it's an interesting way to address the frustration they must feel after dealing with this crap for so many years. But no doubt, other adoptees can relate to their experiences, and it's an awesome -- and somewhat controversial -- way of starting a dialogue on ignorant attitudes towards transracial and transnational adoption. And maybe get people to stop saying stupid shit.
After fielding so many inappropriate questions and comments over the years, Kelley-Wagner was struck with an idea. "I wanted to turn this into a teachable moment, especially because I don't want the girls to internalize this negativity." So she asked her girls if they felt comfortable posing for photos while holding signs with the comments written out. "They were all for it," she says. "Lily even said, 'I think people need to know how rude people are.' We sat down and made a list and I was surprised at how many incidents the girls remembered that I didn't." Kelley-Wagner titled their project, "Things said to or about my adopted daughters" and in January, she posted it on Facebook. This week it began making the rounds on the Internet after getting picked up by a few small blogs and websites.
Here are some of the photos:
See the rest of the photos here.