I remember reading a referral in a local Facebook photography group, seeking a photographer to document an adoption finalization in the spring, for a sweet family who had had to reschedule their initial adoption portraits due to extenuating circumstances. If you’ve been following along with us at all in 2016, then you likely know that adoption is already very close to our hearts as we announced our Giving Back fundraiser where all proceeds are being sent directly to dear friends at the beginning of their own adoption journey. I replied to the Facebook post, sharing about the fundraiser and our heart to love and serve this family, and shortly after, I received an email from Britta (the mama), that they wanted to book their session. In that same email, she also wrote a beautiful note to Adam and Kelly, filled with love and encouragement to carry with them into the months ahead:
“We are SO excited for you! After 10 years of marriage, YEARNING for a child, Jesus gave us the most beautiful baby boy! We finalize the adoption next month! The wait was totally worth it. Praying for you two, and that precious bundle =)”
TEARS. Oh goodness, I knew when I read that that Britta and Stephen were the kind of couple I’d been hoping and praying to work with!!! We talked several times between booking and the finalization day, and the excitement continued to pile up as the countdown grew short and The Day things would become officially official drew closer! When I was finally able to meet them and hug in person and share lunch at Chick-Fil-A with them, I couldn’t help but feel the significance and anticipation that saturated the air. I listened as they recounted their story to me, their determination to trust God as being completely faithful and sovereign over their longing to be parents, even when that ended up looking more like an entire decade of prayers, tears, questions, medical appointments, and paperwork. They told me about when they first laid eyes on their son six months ago, just one day after his birth, and about how they stayed by his side for 20 days while he was in the NICU at All Children’s. They shared how they lived temporarily at the Ronald McDonald House right across the street, adjusting to their new normal and waiting for their sweet boy’s discharge. They shared about all these months since, as they’ve adjusted to life back in Minnesota as a family of THREE, and over nuggets and sweet tea, they shared about their nerves and excitement now that the day was actually, finally here, as the hours ticked down and only one more court hearing stood between them and being the legal, forever, parents of their long-awaited child.
It was an incredible honor and joy to be in the courtroom that day, not only as the photographer, but even more, as a witness to these three becoming a forever family, united by the grace and provision of a Faithful Father who heard and was so very gracious, as their baby’s name, Samuel Jackson, reflects ❤
We started out the day in downtown St. Pete with a family session around the grounds of All Children’s and the Ronald McDonald House, capturing photos of the three of them at the very places it all began exactly six months ago!
After our morning session and a fuel up at Chick-Fil-A, we all headed over to the courthouse, where we survived the trek through security, took the elevator up to the third floor, and sat on wooden benches along a row of widows overlooking the open lobby, waiting for the Richter’s attorney to appear in the hallway and give us instructions and a bit about what to expect. He explained the whole process to us, gave baby Samuel a little squeeze, and then directed us all into Courtroom 14!
Stephen and Britta, I can’t say thank you enough for allowing me to be a tiny part of such a significant and emotion-filled day! I’m so grateful for our time together, getting to know you both, hearing your story, and especially, rejoicing with you over the Lord’s precious gift in your lives!!! My prayer is that these images will serve as a sweet reminder to you for years to come of how God heard your cries and was gracious in such a beautiful and personal way! Hearing your testimony has reminded me of how the Father feels about our adoption as His children, and how deep and beautiful and full-of-faithfulness that act really is ♥
If you’ve read this and are curious to know more about our fundraiser, we would be honored to share more with you! We are offering a limited number of portrait sessions and two full wedding collections, all at discounted prices. These funds are then being donated directly to Kelly and Adam, who you can read more about on our main Giving Back page! If you are looking for portraits or wedding coverage, or know of anyone who might be, please help us spread the word! We would LOVE to serve you and have you stand with us as we all come together to help with #adoptingbabyHancock!