Military Mom clarifies photo controversy

Published: Nov. 4, 2011 at 8:58 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2012 at 7:27 PM EDT
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(Source: Kendra Kaplan)
(Source: Kendra Kaplan)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - These days, Tomas Kaplan is a ball of energy. Two years ago, he was a canvas.

"People bring banners, but instead of making one we thought we'd paint it on my belly," said Tomas' mother, Kendra Kaplan.

Kendra, then 5 months pregnant with Tomas, was welcoming her husband Joshua home after a year long deployment in Iraq.

The 'Welcome home, Daddy' message and the moment  were captured by a news photographer. "I think it hit papers the next day and it blew up," said Kendra.

The picture ran around the world. It was even chosen as a Life magazine photo of the year, but it didn't take long for the comment boards to heat up. How could her husband be deployed for a year and come home to a wife 5 months pregnant?

"I mean you see this picture, she's pregnant, 12 months, I get it," said Kendra. "But it's not okay."

The comments got nasty and haven't stopped since. The truth, Kaplan says, is Tomas was conceived on her husband's two-week leave.

"A lot of babies are conceived on mid-tour. A lot," said Kendra. "The husbands come home, they're home for 2 weeks, and what else are you going to do? You're gonna make a baby!"

Kaplan says it got uglier when the picture got copied without the original description that spelled out the story of conception.

It's definitely missing from websites that describe it as "pregnancy fail" -- websites that do manage to print her full name.

"It's my name, they're saying my first and last name," said Kendra. "That carries on."

Kendra worries about when Tomas is old enough to read and get teased for what other kids might find on the Internet.

It was enough for Kaplan to get a paternity test that she says she wanted to make her point to the world and her son.

"I can say this is your daddy, there are no ifs ands or buts about it," said Kendra.

Kendra says in the end she's glad she has a series of photos to one day show her son even if they come with an ugly Internet reputation.

"It just sucks that it was taken to that extreme," said Kendra.

Kendra says despite the paternity test, the picture and its controversy has alienated some of her friends. But she says her husband has believed and stood by her throughout the drama.

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