Update: The internet fell in love with this powerful photo of a father soothing his sick son last year, but one person wasn't a fan and issued a complaint to local authorities. After Arizona's Department of Child Safety reviewed letter, they decided to close the case, but according to mom and photographer Heather Whitten, an investigator "spent the next few months generally trying to have me seen as an immodest, neglectful, and abusive mother based on the single interview she had with me."
The original case was closed, but the investigator decided to pursue a separate issue. "The only claim she was able to suggest be substantiated against me [and me alone] was that I neglected to supervise our children by allowing their images to be online and so put them at an unreasonable risk of harm," she shared on a Go Fund Me account set up to support her case. "If this claim is substantiated I will be added to Arizona's Central Registry for 25 years. I will no longer be able to foster or adopt children. I will not be able to hold a position working with children or vulnerable adults. Not just in Arizona but, throughout the country."
Original Story: Photographer Heather Whitten knew that something was off with her 1-year-old son for most of the day. Fox wanted to be held more than play, he wasn't eating much when she tried to breastfeed, and he had a mild fever. By that evening, his temperature was getting higher as he started suffering from almost constant vomiting and diarrhea.
Heather's husband, Thomas, knows that the shower is typically a comforting place for his kids — from splashing with their toys to the soothing hot water — so he quickly stripped down and cradled his son in an attempt to help ease his misery. Thomas sat under the stream of warm water with Fox in his arms as the worried parents decided what to do next. In the midst of their discussion, Heather snapped a few intimate images that captured the incredible father-son bond. "Just seeing Thomas shine as a father is always powerful to me," Heather told POPSUGAR.
When Heather and Thomas took Fox to the hospital, he was admitted for three days and was diagnosed with Salmonella poisoning. Now years later, she didn't think much of it when she posted the shot after doing an interview for a photography blog but was surprised to learn that others misunderstood it as an inappropriate snapshot. "I realized how 'taboo' it was to a lot of people that I would even take a picture of that moment, much less share it with anyone. But, that only makes me feel prouder," Heather explained. "[It] shows how comfortable and proud we are of the way that we live with our kids."
Despite mixed opinions on the candid photo, Heather is glad that it sparked a conversation. "I may not be everyone's type of mother or photographer, but it is nice to see others out there that have connected to the image in a positive way," Heather said.