It’s no secret that I love photographing families. Love. I even love photographing weddings for the most part because of the family aspect of it. Every family has its own unique story, and every story is being told with every breath of the same air and with every meal together and with every bedtime snuggle and with every year that we are so lucky to spend together… and the thought that I get to document these stories is pretty incredible to me.
Which brings me to the story of Jesse, Rachel & Ollie. Their story is one of perseverance & patience, and of two parents who loved their child unconditionally just by seeing a photo, and who fought with all they had to become a family. After their long journey through the adoption process, they came to Seattle so that I could take their first family photos together, and even then, the sense of love & devotion to what they had made was so special and felt palpable. I loved this time we spent together, and I love these images because of that… and I’ve also asked Rachel to share a bit of their shared history, to go along with these photos.
July 2, 2013. Uganda. The day we became parents, the day we held our son for the first time, the day I had been waiting my whole life for finally was here. After almost two years of being in the adoption process, the time had come. In the wee hours of the morning, one month after we had seen his picture for the first time and knew that we were going to be called mama and dada, we held him in our arms and told him we loved him, that he was beautifully and wonderfully made. We snuggled him, fed him, played with toys, changed diapers and started the process of parenting. We spent our mornings on the balcony overlooking Lake Victoria, our days soaking in everything we could, about our son, about the country he was born, about the people and the culture that are now such an integral part of our lives. We spent our nights walking the halls, rocking and walking our baby boy to sleep.
We became a family that day and the following seven weeks we spent in Uganda completed one journey and started a new one. The journey of parenting, mothering, loving, sleepless nights and early mornings, hurried meals and chasing toddlers, kissing “ouchies” and comforting tears, falling more in love with my husband as he embraces the role of fatherhood with grace and joy and a huge smile on his face. This journey that we embraced with open arms – that we longed for and hoped for and cried many tears for – it is more than I could have ever imagined. It is perfect yet hard. I (along with my husband) have been accused of “hoarding” our son, and yes, it is probably true. We just can’t get enough of him, of our family, and of the thankfulness in our hearts that that we are here, that Ollie is home.
Our journey was filled with highs and lows, with brokenness and hope. A failed placement amidst the journey was devastating to us and we still hope and pray for that child each day. Our days are now filled with planes, trains, and belly laughs. With toddler meltdowns and trying to keep a straight face as we do our best to shepherd our son’s precious heart. With Curious George and lots and lots of snuggling, kisses, and “I love you.” We will celebrate a year next week, with cupcakes and Pineapple Novida (our favorite drink from Uganda) and a trip to the beach. It has been a year and the joy has not faded, though I still can’t seem to capture all that is in our hearts in words.
I think that this year, being the year that my Madeline is graduating high school and heading into adult life, has made me pretty retrospective on parenthood and all the little moments that make it such a big journey; and I’ve found myself being even more emotionally attached to the families that I photograph. But reading the way that Rachel describes it all, the “brokenness and hope,” really brings it home for me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for not only having a family of my own, but for families out there who go above & beyond to make a home for those who may not have otherwise been so lucky.
Thank you to Rachel for sharing their experience with us in such a beautiful way… thank you to the three of them for being such an inspiration to me, and a huge thanks to Let The Kids for featuring this story on their blog as well.
Now go out & hug someone!