Mom Realizes There Aren’t Any Toys That Look Like Her Adopted Son – Ends Up Receiving an Unexpected Response
One mother is making it her mission to make sure her son sees himself represented in toys.
When five-year-old Archer Coffman walks down the aisles in toy stores, he never sees himself reflected in the toys. And he notices.
“When there aren’t toys like him, he asks why,” Niki Coffman, Archer’s mom, told TODAY.com.
Every Kid Should Have Toys That Look Like Them
“Everyone should have that,” the little boy tells TODAY.com. “It makes them happy.”
So, when Archer received a gift from Fisher-Price – a Little People toy that looks just like him – and he was overjoyed.
“I opened the box and started crying,” Niki Coffman said. “Archer asked why. I said, ‘Archer, they made you.'”
He snatched the box out of his mom’s hands and started shouting “It’s me! It’s me!”
After experiencing infertility, Niki Coffman and her husband Andrew adopted Archer shortly after he was born.
The couple matched with Archer’s birth mother, KKay, who wasn’t in a great spot and didn’t have a lot of support.
“There are few moments as devastating to me in my life as the moment she put him in our arms. It was so clear what it was costing her for our dreams to come true.”
“She kissed his tiny little face and was whispering ‘I’m sorry’ over and over again,” Niki adds. “I’ll never forget it.”
Coffman says she tries to honor KKay in how she parents Archer, noting that it’s a complicated and huge responsibility when you’re a white parent adopting a child of another race.
Mom Asks Companies to Do Better
For years, Niki has searched for toys and books that look more like her son.
When she notices a company providing diverse toys and products, she contacts them to say thank you. And when she notices they are not, she sends a letter asking them to do better.
On Archer’s fifth birthday, Niki asked everyone to donate diverse and inclusive toys and books to Archer’s predominately white preschool.
Many of the donations were Fisher-Price’s Little People — figurines featuring children with different skin tones, hair textures and physical abilities.
“What is hard to find is a toy with brown skin and red hair,” Niki says. “So I wrote to Fisher-Price, thanked them profusely for the work they were doing and then left a P.S. that said something like: ‘If you ever decided to design a Little Person with brown skin and red hair, please let us know.'”
Niki received a response from Gary Weber, the vice president of design at Fisher-Price.
“Your story has been shared with everyone who worked on the Little People figures you mentioned, and to say that it made our day would be an understatement,” Weber wrote. “You and Archer have inspired us! We know that when kids play with Little People they are playing out scenarios they see in the world around them, and feeling like they are a part of that world is critical.”
The email ended with Weber asking for the family’s address.
Then one day, Niki received a special box from Fisher-Price. Inside the box were perfectly packaged boxes that had a little Archer figure in them.
“They got the whole outfit perfect – the sweater, the green shorts, his little loafers. They got his hair perfect,” she told TODAY.com.
There was a letter included from The Little People team — a beautifully printed, framable letter that everyone in the department had signed.
“The amount of work and effort and care they put into this toy was astounding,” she adds. “The thing that just keeps blowing my mind is the number of people who obviously worked on this…it’s hard to describe how impactful it feels, to think of people I don’t know in boardrooms somewhere looking at a picture of my kid and thinking: ‘What else can we do?’ Because as a mom I think about that every day: How else can I smooth the path for him?”
It’s More Than Just a Toy, Representation Matters
Niki says Archer’s figurine is so much more than a toy — it’s a reminder that representation matters.
“I worry about things I can’t control — I worry about him getting killed by police or people viewing him as an adult,” she says, adding that Archer is “big for his age.”
“I can’t control any of that, but what I can do right now is to make sure that the spaces he’s in right now help him know how incredible he is; that his school takes the time to understand that he has brown skin and that not seeing color doesn’t help.”
“I need them to have toys and books that look like Archer, because that’s how they understand that brown skin isn’t less than,” she continues.
Niki explains that she’s in a unique position as a white woman with a Black kid to help people understand why representations matters. “Black parents are tired and they already know it’s important.”
Archer has continued donating Little People toys “with brown skin like me,” to his preschool, saying that he has “an Archie Army.”
One mother, or one company, really can make difference helping more and more kids see themselves in the world around them.
More from Goalcast: