To The Woman Who Stole A Photo of My Stillborn Son

October 1, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"When a baby is born, it's a mother's instinct to protect their baby. When a baby dies, it's the mother's instinct to protect their memory."

The photo you stole is one of the few I have of my son, it is also one of the few my sister had taken of him. 

You wrote to me that you had "lost a set of twins and it hadn't occurred to you that you had no photos to remember them." You see, I understand this, too. I was too busy with laboring and losing my baby to capture photos. Instead, I was fortunate enough to have my husband, sister, brother, and a nurse take photos of him. 

What I don't understand is why you had to pretend that my son was yours? How you could go online, choose a photo (our photo), post it on your social media, show it to a man who thought he had lost a son, and claim a loss that I am not even sure is the actual truth? I mean, you lied to others that my son was yours - what more did or could you have lied about? 

Honestly, if you had lost a baby/babies, why couldn't you have joined our community in spreading awareness instead of doing what you did? I could have given you the support you needed!!

What hurts me the most is that you edited the photo with a false name. After years of hoping and waiting for many family members to mention his name and say it aloud, or even ask me his name, seeing a false name on his photo is highly disturbing. It made me angry. It made me sad. It made me want to shout and cry! I even questioned myself if I was making this a bigger deal than it actually was!!

His name is Elijah! WE picked his name. WE named him. WE named him just days before he died. How could you do that to his name?? Another thing that hurt was knowing that you have other children, your eldest is six-years-old? You have not one, but two? Three?! 

Elijah was our firstborn and for years we suffered with infertility. If you had read our story, perhaps you would have thought twice about stealing his photo. And from mother to mother, wouldn't it hurt you if someone had stolen a photo of your children and claimed them as their own? 

It's just a photo, right? What could one photo possibly do? Well, when all you have left after losing a child are photos of your dead baby, that's it. That's all you have. You took what I had. You took of what was proof that my baby had lived.

Perhaps what you did was out of pain - some say mental illness. Me? I wish I could say you did it out of pure selfishness and deception. You not only stole a photo of my son, you also used someone else's photo of their stillborn child through my social media! 

You know, this isn't the first time this happened to me. You are the second I have known so far to have stolen a photo of my stillborn son. There's probably more who have done this to my son's photo, who knows? Not only that, I have heard other horrifying stories of women using photos of stillborns to receive gifts and money, not just for some distorted version of sympathy. Don't you see how this effects not only me, but so many others?

You have added more pain and fear to others who want to share photos of their babies. You are one the reasons why it is unnecessarily difficult to have a stillborn acknowledged among live babies. You take away the honor and memories that parents of stillborns work so hard to cherish and treasure. 

You say that you did not "think this through" or know that it "would hurt many people." I think you did, you just didn't think that you would get caught. 

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