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every diss begins with kay

Every Diss Begins with This Kay Commercial

Epic fail for adoption-themed Kay Jewelers ad.

How many adoption stereotypes and myths, how much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial? Kay Jewelers and Stern Advertising have reached new, uh, heights.

Let’s narrow it down to just two. Two big ones.

Diss #1: “Just adopt — it’s easy!” Show up at the hospital where you’ve placed your order and have your baby delivered to you, a gorgeous little bundle of certainty! Celebrate your shiny life with shiny things! Because of course after completing your adoption application and homestudy, and after taking on the lifelong responsibility of parenting, you still have money to burn!

Diss #2: “Adoption is shiny! — it’s all gain and no loss!” Pay no attention to the trail of devastation left by fertility treatments and the arduous path of an adoption homestudy. Look away from the loss that’s just beginning for the woman back there somewhere who just gave birth, her family, the birth father and his family, who are facing immeasurable loss. Let’s forever ignore the possibility that the baby herself is experiencing a confusing twist of fate, that everything she’s sensed since her brain began developing has just changed, and that the people taking her home mark her experience with their bling.

But don’t take just my word for it. On Stirrup Queen’s post, on my Facebook Page and on, you can read how this ad strikes others. Some gems:

  • “Kay Jewelers, do you plan to design a smashed heart for the mothers who lost their babies ? This ad is extremely insensitive to all parties involved in an adoption.”
  • “Having relinquished a baby for adoption over 30 years ago, this made me so unbelievably sad. This company did not take into account the feelings of all parties involved.”
  • “I guess they conveniently forgot about the heart break and tragedy of the family losing the child. Yes, money buys both diamonds and babies. This was tasteless.”
  • “Meanwhile, in the other room, a woman is overcome with the grief and sadness that will last the rest of her life. But this one has a shiny new necklace and a shiny new baby.”
  • “If you were trying to materialize and trivialize a very complex process, you succeeded.”
  • “I found this commercial to portray an offensively stereotypical and unrealistic vision of modern adoption….the well-off white married couple sitting in the adoption agency, the healthy white infant, the birth parents comfortably nowhere in sight. This is not the face of adoption today.”
  • “I bet everyone who’s paid for an adoption is dying to fork out more money for jewellery, too.”
  • “Way to undermine the whole [adoption] process Kay and make it look like it really is as easy a drive through.”
  • “Who thought THIS was a good idea? And couldn’t they have shown this to persons affected by adoption prior to green lighting it?”
  • “As an adoptee and therapist who specializes in working with the adoption and foster care community, I’m baffled how society continues to perpetuate such an archaic portrayal of adoption.”

And this…

“I’d love to meet the marketing geniuses who came up with this one.”

If you’re going to create an ad around adoption, you’d be well-advised to understand adoption from the viewpoints of those who live it. Otherwise?

— “I will never shop at Kay Jewelers again.”

EDITED: For my response to those who thought this post was an overreaction see follow-up post:  How Not to Deal With Ignorance on the Internet.

Lori Holden, mom of a young adult daughter and a young adult son, writes from Denver. She was honored as an Angel in Adoption® by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

Find Lori’s books on her Amazon Author page, and catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

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46 Responses

  1. Lori and fellow adoption triad members,
    I am sick over this. As someone who has a very close relationship with my child’s birth family (YES, they are his family), my infertile tummy hurts. I am offended on behalf of birth families and annoyed that Kay didn’t do their research. They missed an incredible opportunity to reach out to a huge market in a considerate, considerable way. Instead, they bedazzled our pain.

    The moral of the story here is that we who have taken on the task of enlightening others have much work to do. I should show Kay jewelers the incredibly sweet charm bracelet my son’s birthmother gave me for Christmas. Maybe my child’s birthmother could explain the true concept gift-giving to the Kay marketing department.

    Jody Cantrell Dyer, author of The Eye of Adoption: The True Story of My Turbulent Wait for a Baby

  2. I hadn’t bothered to actually view it until this post…

    This necklace is part of Jane Seymour’s line of Open Hearts Series…

    The same Jane Seymour who was awarded the “Angels in Adoption Award” – whatever it is that you must have done to receive it, must not you actually need to know anything about adoption. And yet, if you know nothing about adoption – then how can you promote adoption as good? I’m confused… I do know she has done movies with adoption themes so she must be an expert, that’s it. No need for actual research….adoption is always beautiful…until you lift that veil and show the flip side… and while I am writing this I am wondering if she is an adoptive mother?

    For those who won’t buy from Kay’s anymore – understand who owns them, and what other stories they have created to tug at your hearts too…

  3. I can’t not act. So, in doing some research I found that Kay Jewelers is one of the brands operating in the US of Sterling Jewelers which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Signet Jewelers. Mark Light, 49, is the President & CEO of Sterling.
    I live chatted with a very friendly customer service rep at Kay to get his contact info. Correspondence should be addressed:
    Mr. Mark Light
    President & CEO
    Sterling Jewelers
    PO Box 3680
    Akron, Ohio 44309

    While chatting with her, I found an email address for him, mlight[at] Lori, I think you should send this post to him. I will post these details on Mel’s blog as well.

  4. Thank you for writing about this, Lori. I saw it on Mel’s blog too and was absolutely sick. What a poor decision by Kay Jeweler’s to run an ad filled with so much misinformation and misconceptions. Shame on everyone involved with this. Hopefully the ad will be pulled soon, but in the meantime the damage has most certainly been done.

  5. I agree with all the comments posted above. However, I also am happy to see adoption included as a normal way of forming a family with older looking parents. Kay Jewelers has a ways to go in its message and to learn more about the realities of adoption today but this is many people’s reality today, so I think we’ll be seeing more commercials in the future. Hopefully, Kay and other companies will take note of adoptive parent’s and adoption professional’s reactions and get real. Although it is pretty hard to sum up adoption in 30 seconds.

  6. I think many are over thinking the commercial. One – the piece of jewelry represents the rise and falls(placement/failed adoption, infertility, miscarriage, loss/gain of birth family) to each their own of interpretation. Two- no one knows the situation of placement. Three- look at video closer, no hospital, it’s at the adoption agency. As just as an FYI this is how our daughter was presented to us, with the social worker formally introducing us to our daughter when she was three weeks old. Do I think it could of been better? Maybe. But each situation is different, not perfect and lots of info to get into a minute or less commercial. They did well without over personalizing and tried to represent the piece of jewelry, and the process of adoption the ups and downs to get to the momentous moment of their life.

  7. Saw the ad. Hated it. It’s the 1960’s version of adoption. So many things wrong:
    – They’re not at the hospital, they’re at the agency. Most people who adopt babies these days meet their children at the hospital. I know of very few who go to their agencies.
    – The total absence of the birth parents. This ad could have been lovely if the new APs were giving this necklace to the birthmother, with both in tears, saying something like, “This is a symbol of how are hearts are always connected. We’ll see you next week at her christening.” It’d still be schmaltzy, and I’m sure there would be complaints about trading a baby for a necklace, but it would have been better.
    – The baby is several months old. Yes, this is probably overthinking, but either the baby is being adopted through foster care, which means the new mom isn’t entirely a mom yet, or the birthmother is even more likely to be there.
    – The baby is white. Why are all adopted babies white in commercials? TV shows are at least starting to show adopted children of color, when can commercials catch up?
    – The last thing a new couple has money for after spending $25K+ on adoption is an expensive piece of jewelry.

    I doubt Jane Seymour has anything to do with the actual commercials these days. According to WIkipedia, “Seymour is a celebrity ambassador for Childhelp, a national non-profit organisation dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.” I imagine that’s why she got the Angels in Adoption award.

  8. I am almost as sick by the commercial as by your commentators.

    Babies should be picked up at hospitals? Really? Even dogs are allowed six weeks with their litter. Maybe if you weren’t catching the baby and cutting the cord the mother could go home with her child and figure out what that nine months was all about. But no, she has you people in the room with her ready to bring in the big guns if she makes a small move towards taking your, er I mean, HER baby home.
    It’s not Kay that is so terrible, it’s you baby thirsty parasites that will stop at nothing to get the child you are pining for. And if it is taking women to doctor appointments and building them up and telling them what heavenly saints they are for letting you, the married, wealthy, loving people take HER CHILD home so you can experience motherhood, that is what you will do. Anything for the prize while the mother and child experience trauma for the rest of their lives. Sickening!!!

  9. My word, people. It is a sweet commercial. Don’t freak out just because it didn’t show all the hard work and struggles. Good gracious. It is a commercial. And I’m sorry…but I think there would be a moment of sheer joy when you get to see YOUR child and know that all the struggle was worth it. No it is not totally accurate…but the jest of it is. Can you not see the general good instead of bashing a commercial who actually took the time to show a positive side of adoption? I’m sure you people can pick out the bad in anything…

    1. @ Delia.

      Infant adoption (especially a healthy white infant like the little cherub in this commercial!) doesn’t need promotion in some sappy jewelry commercial. There is no shortage of parents for infants. Everyone already sees the positive side of it.

      Part of the problem is that society wants to see ONLY see the positive side of it. Everyone is so busy falling all over themselves to be so accepting and positive and affirming about adoption, that any problems or downsides are swept under the rug. Those who criticize any aspect of adoption are labelled bitter or angry, and somehow that discounts everything they may have to say about adoption.

      This commercial once again defines adoption not as a complicated event with great loss for the child and birth parent, not as an event which can link two families forever for the benefit of the child, but as an event solely about the feelings of the adopting parents. This serves only to firm up the societal view that the purpose of adoption is to get babies for upper middle class childless couples, as opposed to finding the best homes for children who need them.

      I support adoption, but not in a Pollyanna kind of way. There are downsides. I feel that society has an unrealistic and uninformed view of adoption, that that viewpoint is almost always from the perspective of adoptive parents, and that this commercial does a disservice by continuing to deny adoptees and birth parents a voice in adoption.

      Kay has a right to run their commercial, and financially speaking I suppose they’re appealing to the part of the triad that’s likely to be the most financially able to afford their product, but that doesn’t mean that I as an adoptee have to like it or can’t speak out against its stereotypes and denials.

      1. JesseV, I think this hones in on the issue for me, as well: “I feel that society has an unrealistic and uninformed view of adoption, that that viewpoint is almost always from the perspective of adoptive parents.”

  10. For those offended or think they need to be just imagine a black 15 yr girl/boy in place of he baby are you now Sooooo offended to see what the commercial is saying about the “ups and downs/ rise and falls” and the words on the door Adoption Agency? All need to get of high horse and just because some go to an agency to pick up their baby is not 1960’s. This was our choice as to NOT to put pressure on the mother in the hospital which now seems to be the growing trend in the last 7 yrs since we’ve adopted our daughter. For three weeks she was in interim foster care while her parents made their decision. We were matched the week before we brought her home. Maybe this is how adoptions ought to be so there is absolutely no pressure on the birth family! Think about that!

    1. @Notoffended

      Did you meet your daughter’s first mother, or currently have contact?

      This commercial completely leaves the adoptee and birth family out of the picture. It speaks only to the adoptive parents’ experience. Again, Kay is certainly free to target adoptive parents as a market, and based on the gushing responses on some of the TTC boards it appears they’ve entranced their target market, however I strongly urge you to consider how the other members of the adoption triad may react at being ignored yet AGAIN. This commercial once again tells the story of adoptive parents getting the baby they want, which for so many decades has been the major story/view of adoption in the eyes of the public. Maybe we’re frustrated because this aspect of adoption is completely oversold in society, at the expense of the other triad members. Maybe even if we love our adoptive parents and are happy in our families, we would like to occasionally have it simply acknowledged that what you may view as your happiest moment was dependent on a great loss in our lives, instead of the focus always being on how wooooooonderful adoption is.

      You may find yourself getting an education in the adoptee viewpoint once your daughter grows up. My opinions at 34 are certainly different than they were at 7. I hope you’re more open to any frustrations or feelings she may have, than you are to the adoptees on here explaining why they feel marginalized by this commercial.

  11. It simply reinforces the stereotype that *most* of society already has…that adoption is all sweetness and light, and babies drop out of the sky and into the laps of waiting adoptive parents. We don’t need any more of those types of images!

  12. Our daughter was placed in interim fostercare at birth, because they were contemplating adoption. We met the parents the week before we were placed with her. She was 2weeks old. They wanted us to take her that day but they had just signed off parental rights, we wouldnt take her that day, we wanted them to have time for reality to set in. The day we took her home I cried like a baby, I cried for the birthfamily, yes some was happy tears for myself, but I felt guilty and sad , because I knew if I was them Icould never let her go, and yet they did seeming strong and holding in the power not to cry. Yes we do have a very open relationship with both sides of birth family and extending to birth grandparents, not just once a year but year round. Some people think our relationship with birth family isn’t reality neither, it takes a lot of work. There are days when I want to say screw it because it seems they don’t want to take some initiative in the relationship, but it’s communication and understanding between ALL of us that makes it work. Knowing there are days they may feel regret, I may be hurt by words “real mom”, why they give me away, how come they kept my sisters. We have a very bright 7 yr old and so far we’ve met on two occasions where we all(birth grandparents included) sat down together to have heart to heart discusion about our daughter and her feelings. I come from a family not new to the adoption world and foster care. I knew the ups/ downs of both. That also helped our decision to be so open, 7 yrs ago people were questioning us why we would be so open. We’ve had bumps, and aren’t neieve to know we will not have more.

    1. I’m really happy to hear that….I can imagine it’s a challenge to navigate at times, but it will do your daughter so much good in the long run. I wish I’d had that, growing up.

  13. My poor F-B friends were subjected to a short (and loud) rant from me to never shop at that store again. It hit the wrong nerve with me, that’s for sure!

  14. @Notoffended, it is more the reinforcement of stereotypical “baby drops from sky with no other ties in the laps of a waiting family”. The adoption community doesn’t need any more of that kind of reinforcement that reaches millions of people.

  15. @Delie. Like many adoptive parents, I am offended by the overall message this commercial sends. You’d think we’re still in the baby-snatch era (and some would argue that we are) where one part of the adoption triad is summarily dismissed as “not important”. I have to fight against stereotypes every day, as my family and friends are still firmly entrenched in the outdated view of adoption. It’s exhausting.

  16. JesseV, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am one of those who fully bought into the fairy tales and rainbow version of adoption. Forunately, my eyes were opened by a friend whose mom was adopted. The forever hole-in-the-heart felt by mom and baby never entered my mind.

  17. Having not experienced adoption on either side, I readily admit that I may not be sensitive to the feelings and emotions of the parties involved.

    That said, the commercial seems to highlight a couple sharing a joyful time in their lives. It shows a couple devoted to each other and wanting to celebrate a joyful beginning.

    I wasn’t offended. Again, I recognize I don’t have the ties to adoption and personal experience to draw from to perhaps stir up more negative emotions. But for me this was heartwarming.

  18. Barb,
    Really?! Blood thirsty parasites? I hope your disgusting and hateful comment is taken down. I’m tired of adoptive parents taking the heat.

    1. I don’t believe all adoptive parents are bloodthirsty parasites.

      But for those adoptees who had a bad adoption experience, or were adopted via gray/black market adoptions, or whose adoptive parents cannot help them acknowledge & grieve their losses, or whose birth parents were coerced by parents/agencies/religious institutions into relinquishing children they wanted to raise, this may be how they feel. Do you have any idea how it feels to be an adopted person and go online and read comments from prospective adoptive parents who are trying to INTENTIONALLY create adoption circumstances where their future child will have NO chance of being able to locate birth family members? Or comments from adoptees whose parents have intentionally destroyed adoption documents in order to thwart their searches?

      You have to understand where this anger comes from.

      Adoptive parents often have an an unacknowledged loss also (the biological children they wanted to have), and certainly adoptive parenting comes with challenges that are different than those in a biological relationship, but in the end they often end up benefitting from the loss the birth parents and child suffered and that can certainly create some bitterness if feelings are not acknowledged, talked about, and hopefully resolved.

  19. All that aside – I’ve never really liked her open hearts collection. They have a similar commercial with a stepparent (which I do have experience with) and I didn’t like the commercial. I’m sure it was also heartwarming to those without personal experience, but it stirred up all my own personal complex emotions about the situation. So I can see how this could stir up your personal complex emotions about adoption.

    In some ways, does that make it a good commercial? It was able to touch our emotions?

    Either way – if I get jewels – I would not want an “open heart” collection piece. Just don’t personally like them.

  20. I’m not an adoptive parent and so this post presented me with a new way of looking at the commercial. Of course, these same comments could be made about any jewelry ad–for an eternity band (yes, when 10 years seems like an eternity being married to the bastard) or any other relationship. We just can’t expect people trying to make a book to be socially responsible–it’s not good ad copy, I’m afraid. Thanks for giving me a new lens for this commercial.

  21. I understand why adoptees and birth parents that have had bad experiences would be angry. However, it’s uncalled for to name call all adoptive parents parasites. It’s not fair to those of us that bend over backwards to obtain original birth certificates for our children, go above and beyond to facilitate relationships with birth family and demand ethical adoptions. Not all of us are infertile. I’m also wondering why Barb spends time on a blog of an adoptive parent if she hates them so much.

    1. As you acknowledge, hurt people hurt people. And sometimes just being heard can help heal the hurt. This is why all comments so far are staying up.

      Because Barb’s comment was not directed at any specific person, I am letting it remain. Readers of it will know if they are parasites or not. If they worry they are, maybe they need to hear it and consider looking at adoption from a different perspective.

      And if they know they aren’t parasites — like the vast majority of my readers and visitors — her words won’t trigger them. The words will have no power, carry no emotional charge.

      It sounds as if you go above and beyond to help your children get what they need adoption-wise, including access to their birth records and contact with their birth parents, and that you are doing your part to make Adoption World better for them.

  22. Lori, as usual you are right and wise beyond your years. I guess I just need to develop a thicker skin if I’m going to try to engage in these kinds of discussions. Every adoptive parent I personally know are kind and wonderful people, it’s hard to hear name calling when I know we all just want the best for our kids and first families.

    BTW, the commercial was super cheesy and lame. However, I do appreciate companies taking notice that families are made in many different ways.

  23. I really, really hated this commercial. I hated it. As an adoptee whose placement probably looked a whole lot like this (placed at 3 months old at the agency) I just think it’s wrong. But maybe that’s because I’ve adopted 2 out of foster care and fostered more and just know how dang hard it is. And yes, there is always that moment of joy when you first hold them, but then there are the tears and the heartbreak and the waiting and the worrying…

    If the misconceptions weren’t so prevalent maybe I wouldn’t hate it so much.

  24. I have not adopted, but was adopted and know how much guilt my birth mother has felt during my entire life. When I finally met her a couple of years ago, she thought I would be angry with her for giving me away (I wasn’t). While this Kay commercial didn’t really offend me, I think it’s really stupid and weird and honestly wonder what they were thinking. Plus, the necklace they show is ugly.

  25. “I’m also wondering why Barb spends time on a blog of an adoptive parent if she hates them so much.”

    I always wonder the same thing about adopters who troll first mother and adoptee blogs to denounce their stories and truths…

  26. I watched it and as an adoptee myself I found nothing offensive about it. I believe the woman says something along the lines of “I can’t believe this day is finally here” indicating it was a long road to finally meeting their child. I met my birth mom. She said it was the hardest and best choice she ever made. She was 17, didn’t know the dad and was not in a place financially or emotionally ready to take care of a child. She turned her life around and couldn’t have done that with the responsibilities of a baby too.

    If I remember correctly Kay Jewelers had another commercial for this same jewelry line where a man was talking to his future stepdaughter about marrying her mom. Where was all the outcry about them not showing the biological dad? Is he dead? Is he just not around? Is he possibly sad that another man he hardly knows is now going to be playing daddy to his little girl he only sees every other weekend? We don’t know because it’s impossible to show that in a 30 second commercial.

    There’s plenty in this world and on TV to be outraged by, this isn’t one of them. I would have liked to have seen two gay dads adopting the baby, then you’d really get people talking. Kudos to Kay Jewelers for showing there’s all different ways to be a family. None of them come easy.

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