When Heather Whitten's son Fox was sick, her husband Thomas brought his son into the shower to help give the little guy some relief. It was a moment captured by Whitten, who also happens to be a professional photographer.
“I snapped a couple of pictures,” she said. “It was just beautiful. It was not surprising or anything out of the ordinary; it’s how he has always been with the kids.”
She likes the image because it shows that “it is okay to get naked with your son and nurture him … the important thing is really taking care of your kiddos.”
(Side note: Fox recovered nicely from the illness and is okay now.)
She shared the photo on Facebook where she talked about the photo being misunderstood as sexual in a class she taught.
The post has been shared more than 32,000 times and 140,000 people reacted to it…before Facebook banned it twice.
While many loved the raw image portraying real parenthood and were upset when the photo was removed, not everyone agreed, and a single individual sent a letter of complaint to the local authorities.
The Whittens, who have four children — Lillian, seven, Leena, four, and two-year-old twins Fox and Persephone — were then investigated by Arizona’s Department of Child Safety and the Sahuarita Police Department for a number of claims that the person made in their letter.
While the police said they wouldn’t take action and the case would be closed, a DCS investigator spent the next few months working to portray Whitten as “an immodest, neglectful and abusive mother based on the single interview she had with me.”
Whitten detailed the whole ordeal on the GoFundMe page she made to help raise funds for her civil case.
She said the investigator's negative opinion of her was largely based on the fact that she had chosen to openly breastfeed one of her twins during the interview.
The claim against the Whittens could be substantiated against Heather in that she “neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm.”
If this claim turns out to hold weight in court, Whitten will be added to Arizona’s Central Registry for 25 years, and her right to foster or adopt children will be taken away.
“I will not be able to hold a position working with children or vulnerable adults,” she said. “Not just in Arizona but, throughout the country.”
An administrative hearing is being held on February 3, all because as a photographer, she shared intimate images of her family online.
It’s certainly a loaded issue, so where do you come out on this? Was it artistic or neglectful?