Friday, November 13, 2009

Sticking it to infertiles with stick family stickers

I'm going to admit to a pet peeve of mine - Stick Figure Family Car Window Stickers.

Do you know the stickers I mean? The ones people plaster on their car rear windows for all the world to see? (International bloggers, is this a solely American phenomenon?)


Since I live in Manhattan and fewer people drive cars here, I have been somewhat more insulated from this annoying fad than I would be if I lived in the suburbs, but it's something that bothers me all the same.

What is the purpose of these decals? They strike me as slightly self-aggrandizing, not to mention potentially unsafe. (Broadcasting your children's names on your car - brilliant idea!)

And perhaps needless to say, but there seem to be no family stickers for those without children. Oh wait, since we're childless, maybe we don't even qualify as a family...er...sorry, I forgot...no family here - just Mo and Will. Nothing to see here, folks, just keep on moving.

So maybe these stickers are a somewhat dim-witted idea that amounts to shameless bragging, but so what? Usually I don't get riled up about other people's business. I'm generally a live-and-let-live sort of gal.

So I had to ask myself, Why do these stickers irk me so?

Honestly, it's because they seem to be yet another unintended sucker punch from the fertile world. Another proclamation of fertile people's normality, their damn irritating fecundity. And another reminder of my defectiveness, my barreness, my pronounced child-killing abilities.

I realize my skin is thin on this. I know it is not the world's fault that it seems most everyone else can have sex and get (and stay) knocked up, whereas we've spent an obscene amount of money and endured a ridiculous number of procedures to get pregnant, and be pregnant, and then to get unpregnant again with nothing to show for it but a depleted bank account, a larger dress size, two laparoscopy scars, and an increasingly caustic sense of humor.

I know it's not the fertile world's fault. Hey, maybe if I could successfully reproduce I'd want to brag about it on the back end of my newly purchased minivan too (bought to shuttle my large family around in, to our many happy family events).

What bothers me probably most is that it is socially acceptable to put up self-congratulatory stickers of your family on your rear window, but it is not acceptable for us infertiles to discuss our reproductive struggles - and it is downright taboo to even mention pregnancy loss.

I'm tired of it all, I tell you. So today, I decided to make my own stick family sticker. Unfortunately, I don't have a car to put it on, and probably (but I'm not promising anything), I wouldn't be outrageous enough to stick it on my car even if I did have one. Because that would just make people uncomfortable and that's not really my aim.

But a little part of me thinks it would be awesome to get the conversation started, to not have so much of all our suffering be silent, not to mention how cool it would be to pull up behind someone else's car and see that she too struggles with infertility and loss - for a moment to cut through the isolation of it all.

So herewith I present Mo and Will's New Stick Figure Family Car Window Sticker, coming to you courtesy of this website:



Me, my husband, five miscarried babies, and our dog. What do you think? Isn't my family cute?

If I did stick this decal on my car, here's what I would secretly want to say:

Fertile world, here's my family. It's not the way I hoped it would be but this is how it is, so far, at least. Deal with it, OK? I have to deal with you - and the reminders of our heartbreak - every day.

Grumble grumble, grouse, grumble.

Mo

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72 comments:

  1. Love it, love it, love it -- both your post & your prototype bumper sticker! I haven't seen any of these in Canada but I HAVE seen similar address labels/stationery.

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  2. I'd totally buy one. Those "happy family" stickers piss me off too and likely would even if I didn't have a past filled with no-need-for-the-minivan-babies.

    Jerks.

    (Hmmmph. I wonder if it's too early for the Lupron to be kicking in, or if this is just the normal state of hag-ness I've got to manifest these days...)

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  3. Yeah I live in Arizona, where there is a very large Mormon Population. Their stick figure families have like 8 or 9 kids. I am not exagerating!!! Every time I see those, I am like wow, really you have that many kids so easily???

    Also I agree names- safety????

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  4. I laughed out loud when I read your title--I knew exactly what kind of rant this was going to be! And yes, if you lived in suburbia they'd be everywhere...at least in this midwestern town where DH and I currently reside, the stick figure stickers are quite alive and well. My sticker, on the other hand, would be quite similar to yours--minus two angels, plus another dog. Is there any way we could get the female to reflect the fertility treatment weight gain, do you think? Maybe just stick her in a pair of stirrups and be done with it. :) My own little sister slaps a very similar return address sticker on her notes and letters--a cartoonish version of her, her husband, a little boy figure, a little girl figure, a baby figure and a dog figure...talk about feeling inadequate every time I get something from her in the mail! Sheesh. I swear, this is something I will never, ever do.

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  5. The only reason I don't hate these sticker 100% is that when one of these assholes cut me off I can cuss them by name and then they are all amazed I "know" them. Dumbass, you put your name right THERE!

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  6. I also hate those stickers and can't really put my finger on why. I don't see the ones with names as much, just the ones with a decal for each family member, differentiated between ages by size of decal. I don't even like the ones with just pairs of sandals in a row. I'm sorry, I don't want to know you have two adult sized flip flops and five children sized flip flops, that just makes me mad because I only have angel sized flip flops. How do I draw those? I LOVED your sticker by they way. I think it's amazing and I would put it on my car if I were you. Honestly. It is so unfair that the fertile world gets to just flaunt themselves all over and we can't say shit about our realities. Thanks for venting and sharing your creative response!

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  7. Mother birthstone jewelry is getting me lately, in addition to those little sticks. Queens is not immune.

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  8. I'm in Canada and yes, they are everywhere in my neighbourhood - and I left the 'burbs several years ago. I don't hate them, I just don't understand why anyone would want to put that on their car.

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  9. Coming to you from the Southern Hempisphere where I have never seen anything like those stickers before (thank God!) I really hope they don't make it down our way!

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  10. I love this!!! We could also add in pictures of our little embryos!!!

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  11. *high five* I hate those things too. I often thought that once I am through with this journey and my scars have healed that I *will* start making people uncomfortable...my own little mission to raise awareness. At my grandfather's eigtieth birthday part I told my husband that if anyone asked if we have kids that I was going to answer, "we can't have children." but he forbade me. He is no fun.

    I personally think we should be more upfront about our losses. Get some awareness going.

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  12. Oh I am so with you on all of this. Makes me crazy.

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  13. Those stickers are practically required here in Ohio. I like your version, though. If their easy fertility has o be jammed down our throats why not jam some of our pain down theirs? I'd never have the balls to really do it, but I like the thought!

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  14. Quite frankly, even before TTC, those stickers made me want to hurl. They remind me of little flower shirts, mom jeans, and puffy hair-sprayed bangs. Damn stick people!

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  15. I've yet to see these in Britain. Mind you, we're always a bit slow to the party compared to the States.

    My sticker would have two angels, one question mark and a cactus.

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  16. I'm giving you a virtual high five from bed rest for IVF #5. I know that us IFers might be a tad more sensitive to the fertile world's obliviousness to the fact that what they have might just not come as easily for a certain percentage of the population, but those stickers just seem so IN YOUR FACE and so wrong. Sigh.

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  17. I hate those fucking stickers.

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  18. It's an American phenomenon, I think.

    I've never seen them before.

    g

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  19. I'd buy one of yours too, but it would just be DH and two cats. No angels for us...but how about some embryos and maybe an empty crib? And maybe a pissed off god frowning down on them?

    I see them ALL the time here in sunny south Florida, but I've never seen any with names. Interesting that people would be inclined to include names with the sticks.

    These sticks remind me of those stupid 'baby on board' signs that minivans in the 80s used to sport. I was only in middle school when those were popular, but I remember being annoyed by them even then.

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  20. You are awesome.

    I HATE those stickers.

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  21. THANK YOU! I LOVE your post!

    I HATE these f-ing stick families. I have told DH that I was going to make US a bumper sticker that had a man (him), a woman (me), and 2 babies with X's through them for our two miscarriages. Talk about morbid and bitter--your angel babies are much better.

    By the way, love the Halmark cards, too. You posted one of them shortly after my last miscarriage after IVF #2, and I swear it was one of the only things that got me through the day. : ) Keep on blogging, sister!

    AZ

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  22. Oh my gawd, I HATE those stickers with a passion, and totally agree that non only are they totally self-congratulatory, but who in their right mind would put all of their family names on their car? Also, don't you think those kids are probably mortified at some point?

    Of course, I'm one of those people who are tempted to rear end a car every time I see a "Baby on Board" sign, so maybe I'm just mean.

    Ugh ugh ugh. I'd buy your version any day.

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  23. Yea. Those stickers are obnoxious.

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  24. I always got mad at those damned "baby on board" things. I wanted to put a "highly trained adult productive member of society on board" sign up then I had some questions about whether I really was productive or not :)

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  25. I noticed you could get them for your dogs. That made me like them more than I did at first. I've seen a couple in Canada but not a lot, and I live in suburbia. I know (really) one day your stick family will look very different from how it does today. I wish it could be an easier path for all of us, without all these compromises. Hang in there Mo.

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  26. I live in Chicago, but I've never seen these on cars - just on stationary and things. I love the stick family you and Will built.

    By the way, in my opinion, family's come in twos. My husband and I ARE a family - even if we don't fit the conventional definition. Everyone else can suck it.

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  27. Mo, you are right on the money! I hate those stupid stickers! I also live in AZ and they are everywhere here! I was just in the drive thru line at Starbuck's yesterday, behind a SUV with the damn sticker family on it.
    I was thinking to myself that I should blog about this very topic!
    Those stickers piss me off, it just is so smug. PUKE! I LOVE your sticker family. Too bad you don't have a car...

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  28. Well I'll be the one to break the mold. I actually have these w/o names and right above it I have a "Proud Family of Angels" Infant/Pregnancy Loss Awareness Sticker. The site I got ours from does have angel babies and I came close to getting them, but got the Proud Family of Angels instead.

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  29. Your sticker is great! I haven't seen any of these in canada, and my first thought was also "Wow, that's not so safe, to be advertizing your kids' names".
    Maybe I'm a little abnormal, but I've told countless people that we'd tried for 4 years, and took countless drugs, and lost two, and did a couple rounds of IVF to get pg with this one. I couldn't care less what they think of me, and people have actually been very supportive. I have yet to go and trade war stories with the one guy who said that he'd have to tell me about the 10 cycles of IVF that he and his wife did to have their two kids, but next time I see him and we both have a few minutes, I'll be asking about it. It is much less isolating to start to put it out there and then find out what others have gone through.
    I was jealous in April of a buddy who suddenly mentioned he was heading for their second trimester scan (I had no clue they were pg). And even more jealous when he said they'd been planning to have a baby in 2010, but it had happened sooner than they'd expected. Well, when we met up last week, I told him about being pg and losing two and doing the IVFs to get pg, and he said that they'd also had a loss previously. It was kind of nice to know I'm not the only one (though of course it didn't take them all the time and needles and poking and years to actually have a baby).
    Sorry for rambling! I get pissed at the "Baby on Board" yellow diamond caution signs. If I'm close enough to read that shit, I've probably already rammed into you...

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  30. Hear, hear. Couldn't have said it better myself! I've fantasized about slapping a stick family like the one you created on my car, but I haven't had the guts to do it.

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  31. Those things are annoying. The only one that made me laugh was one with the family and a little stick figure of Cthulhu.

    I am sorry that you feel it is so taboo to talk about pregnancy loss and infertility. Maybe it is as east coast/west coast thing, but people out here are pretty open about the whole thing. That has helped me a lot.

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  32. Mo, must be an American thing - I have never seen those in South Africa. Thank goodness. Of course we have a crime situation here which would make those stupid to put on your cars anyway :)

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  33. We only have the 'baby on board' variety here in Western Australia.
    I think the stickers are smug. Imagine the offended reaction if people drove around with:

    CEO on board
    or:
    I take home $350k p.a. (smiley)
    or:
    A stick figure couple with annual income under each person.

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  34. Great post! I'm an American living in Ireland and while I haven't seen stick family stickers on cars, the "Baby On Board" signs are very popular. ACK!

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  35. I agree with you completely that it is 100% ok for them to brag but it is 100% not ok for me to talk about my inability to have something to brag about. Add to that the fact that my husband's an amputee and I am a borderline social leper!

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  36. Those bother me too, especially because they're so cute, and I kind of wish we could have one with a coupla kids on our SUV. But we won't ever do that, because even though we've finally had a child, you never see anyone with one kid on their sticker. It's all the people with multiple kids who do that -- and you're right, it's totally bragging.

    I guess with your stickers, we'd now have a dad, mom, baby girl, two baby angels, and one doggie angel.

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  37. I love the sticker you created. I know it was done with a sense of humor, but I really think it's sad and sweet. I would have loved one for my embryos.

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  38. those stickers have definitely given me that 'kick in th gut' feeling. esp. when there are more than 2 kids, for some reason. your angel one is sadly awesome!

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  39. It is oddly sad and sweet all at the same time.

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  40. Those stickers are so annoying. It's like, "I don't know about anybody else, but I love my family!" Morons. Your sticker is definitely both sad and sweet. Hang in there, Mo!

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  41. This is bizarre because I was thinking about how irritating those stickers are a couple of weeks ago when I was driving behind a car with them and wondering what my family would look like. Now I realize it's pretty much like yours, except with cats.

    You guys need to start a card/t-shirt/decal store. Seriously.

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  42. Amen, sister! I hate those stickers, too. It's a slap in the face every time I see one. I'd buy one of your stickers even though I've not had a loss...I'd like mine to be me and DH and say "YES we ARE a family!!"

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  43. Oh thank god I've never seen these (clearly I must never leave manhattan). I would also find them, well, just hurtful and infuriating at the same time.
    I do hate that pregnancy loss and infertility are taboo... even people who know we are ttc via ivf act like it's contagious. Annoying!

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  44. I once commented on those blasted family stickers and a friend with way more kids than she can manage asked "Is that the fertility meds talking?"

    Yeah, that must be it. Let's blame it all on my womb growing cobwebs.

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  45. I think these stickers are a way of making an excuse for driving an oversize gas-guzzler - like saying "But I have all these kids, so I neeeed a giant-ass vehicle". I always say, anything that trendy is a bad idea. Did crocs teach these people nothing?

    Love your version, even though it is just a reminder of so much sadness. If I saw it on an actual car I would probably blow the driver a kiss.

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  46. Girl... you crack me up!! Now I know why you have so many people following your blog. LOL!!

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  47. OMG, how do I e-mail you a picture? Because I have 2 for you!

    Anyway, I agree that they're weird, and they're all over here in Nebraska. Just like the calvin peeing on things stickers are (?) and the truck nuts. Yes- testicles for your big ol' ford. No crap.

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  48. seriously brilliant, Mo.
    dang.
    xox
    kate

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  49. I hate those damn stickers too! I love your idea.

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  50. brilliant! I never thought about those stickers before - except to think - hmmm - but you hit it on the head. I think you should make a whole range of stickers for all kinds of ALI members. That would be one way to raise awareness and sucker punch those smug bastards!

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  51. I´m one of those international bloggers :) Thankfully I have never seen these stickers before.

    But I´m concerned with safety, do you wan´t people who can follow you home to know your kids names.

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  52. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! I could not agree more!

    I think these stickers are stupid and dangerous!

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  53. I love your sticker, though tears came to my eyes when I saw it. It's not fair. Glad to say that the bumper stickers have not yet reached Ireland and please God they never do

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  54. THankfully that trend has not seeped north, yet.

    I hate the "baby on board sticker".

    HATE the sticker, irrationally so.

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  55. My husband and I hate those too.

    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who gets really pissed off when I see them.

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  56. Well personally I think they are pretty lame and wouldn't stick one on my car if you paid me. But I totally get your point!

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  57. O.M.G. U

    m, please don't spread these around, lest Australians get wind of them. Christ, if I start seeing these on people's cars I will be tempted to violence. I love your pictorial response though, and frankly, if I lived in a community where people put that stuff on their cars, I would be adding mine, complete with the eight angels and our tropical fish. Fuck them. Most people see dogs as part of their family: how does a dog rate higher than a dead baby? It might be the caffeine talking, but this topic has really got my heart rate up!!!

    Anyway, if you're making these stickers, can I place an order? I think a t-shirt version would be good also.... Oh wait - what about Aunt Jane on the front saying "when are you going to have some kids?" and then the family pictorial on the back. Nice. Covers everything, I think. Great to wear to parties - a real show-stopper. I will order several in a range of colours. You guys are going to be millionaires.

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  58. I see them all the time and totally agree, it's like they are bragging about their fertility.

    I would totally love to have your version of the sticker (I would have two angels and a cat) and would love to see the reaction of people, especially where I live in super conservative Ohio.

    Great idea!

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  59. Yeah, the stick figure family stickers are annoying. However, my favorite one is of the "ass" family; smart ass, dumb ass, you get the picture! That's the kind of smart ass people we have in our town!

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  60. I love this post and had no idea this shit existed. I too live in Manhattan and am rarely around vehicles that are designed for 6 or fewer people, but I imagine out there in the vasty breadth of the rest of the country this abounds.

    How just utterly annoying in a general sense and not just as a sucker punch to those that cannot or who haven't yet been able to have children. Geeesh.

    Love this post!

    @Dianne - those are probably the women you see on the BBT and TTC forums trying to have "just one more miracle". Makes my blood boil.

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  61. Absolutely love this post. I haven't seen these stickers in my country but could not agree more with your post.
    PS - I LOVE your sticker for your family.

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  62. Man, I love it! I totally, 100 percent agree. Those stickers are the stupidest things ever. I hate them...

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  63. Sorry I'm behind reading, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sticker! I HATE those stick figure decals, and where I live EVERYONE seems to have one on their minivan! (BTW, we do not own a minivan).

    I wanted your angel babies to have wings though, they could flutter around you Will and the dog. For whatever reason I just was so moved by your sticker, and I want one too.

    So glad things seem to be working at CCRM, hope this will get you a live one (or two)!

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  64. Wow, this made my day. You express things that I've felt, but with such flair and eloquence!

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  65. Seriously you hit the nail on the head.....

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  66. On this past episode of Dexter, the serial killer used the names on the minivan stickers to help him abduct a child.

    I don't mind making fertiles uncomfortable. But I was kind of bitchy before infertility. Infertility just turned it up a notch.

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  67. Here from Mel. And I wholeheartedly agree. I feel like swearing at everyone who I see driving a car with those on it - even though I KNOW that most people have a family to be proud of, I do have a family, it's just sticker-worthy. And not what I wanted.

    But. I did put a very large sticker on my car that says "STILLBIRTH AWARENESS." They get stick-figure families, I get a cause to support. But I sure as hell am not hiding from it, whether they wish I would or not.

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  68. I really appreciated your post, Mo.

    As a creator of an Australian range of my family stickers, I can only say that definition of ‘family’ over here is possibly a lot broader than where you are. Just yesterday I was behind a P plater (like provisional licensed young person) and all they had on the car was one of our mum characters and a cat.

    As we process a number of internet orders each week, we get to see lots of different combinations that make up a family. We have many couples with pets or couples on their own. We were also approached recently to design angel babies and angel children and have done so as these people wanted a way to represent them.

    I have to say however that we absolutely DO NOT put names on our decals, nor do we ever intend to. I agree with you and some of your other commenters that it’s not only a security risk but insane. With our range, it's also about allowing people to show off their hobbies and interests (more so than their professions or necessarily their family status) and at least, here in Australia, it’s intention is to be harmless fun that at the very least, offers something for the car behind to look at during the red light.

    Again, thank you for bringing our awareness to another angle that we hadn't before considered.

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  69. I'm also not a fan of those stick figures. My hubby thinks it's an invitation to perverts to walk up and snatch the kids - I mean, they're broadcasting their names right there! Just stupid...
    I like your version, and I think if I saw it on a car, it would make me stop and think for a minute. And probably say a quick prayer for the person driving.

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  70. Let me begin by saying that I have dealt with infertility...4 miscarriages and a boatload of fertility drugs. Been there. Moving forward...We adopted. I have the stickers (sans the names...that is just dumb) on the back of a minivan. You can be miserable all you want and complain all you want..you have the right to. But whining about stickers is juvenile.

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  71. The Baby On Board stickers are not there to make you feel horrible for your painful losses. They are there to say, "please stop tailgating, there's a vulnerable passenger."

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