I got to witness, hands down, the most selfless acts a human being can do for another... I watched a mother, who loved her child endlessly choose adoption for her child, and gave the gift of life, to another mother who couldn't conceive. Leslie and Michael tried for over 4 years to have their own child: fertility treatments, failed IVFs, being twice matched in previous adoptions that did not go through, one of which they parented the baby for a week.
I received a phone call approximately a week before I witnessed this awe inspiring moment. Leslie contacted me from California and asked if I was available to photograph the birth of their daughter. They were going through an open adoption and the birth mom was here in Columbus. My heart immediately melted. Not only was this mother doing the most selfless act ever, by placing her child for adoption, she was giving them permission to have me there to document the whole thing.
Immediately the weight of responsibility rained heavily down on me. My stories usually have one, maybe two narratives. But this one would have multiple hearts, souls, and stories to be told. I so desperately wanted to do Leslie and Michael justice, as well as the birth mom, this precious babe has an older brother and sister, and of course this sweet little girl who will one day grow up and see these photos, these moments, and know how truly and immediately she was loved.
Leslie and Michael flew in from California, and myself and the birth mother all went for coffee. From an outsider perspective, seeing the depth of these actions and these relationships being forged, I couldn't help but to be awe struck. Our coffee date went perfectly and all was set for waiting for little Miss to arrive.
She stubbornly took her time, and went a week over her due date... 12/13/14 came around and it was finally time to meet this angel who had already stolen so many hearts.
The images will tell the story that my words will fall horribly short trying to. But I will leave my part of the dialog by saying this: This was one of the most beautiful, inspiring, gut wrenching, amazing, honorable, selfless, life changing moments I have ever had the privilege of witnessing. I've never experienced that wide gamut of emotions in the span of mere seconds: The joy Leslie and Michael were experiencing, the agony the birth mom was living, and the hope and love they all shared to give this girl an amazing life.
Leslie and Michael have both been such pillars of strength through this whole, long journey of fertility treatments and the crazy road that adoption can take you down... I was literally a stranger a few days earlier, but they shared some of the hardest parts of their life with me through conversations that day. I always hope that my blogs, and these stories my clients so graciously allow me to tell will help others. If you too are battling with fertility and adoption I hope you find peace in their happy ending.
And to the Birth Mom, thank you, a MILLION times THANK YOU. Words will fall short, and no affection, or actions can fully describe the depth of love you have gifted your daughter or Michael and Leslie. Thank you for letting us tell this story, thank you for allowing this transparency. I pray more mothers considering adoption will also consider birth photography. It was an honor sitting on your couch, holding you and your babies, and crying with you as we watched slide show together. I also pray these images bring you peace and healing through the years.
Lastly, I leave you all with this... Leslie has written a few words herself.
Adoption is one of those things. One of those things that cannot be fathomed unless you’ve had the experience yourself. Even then, every story is different. Inside every story is a countless number of people who all experience it from their own perspectives and have their own personal story. Sometimes the story is so sordid it has no clear beginning and no clear end. Our particular adoption is a domestic open adoption and for us, there was no other option.
I learned a while ago that, unlike what many had told me, there was not a particular baby for me. Not me. Instead, it’s hard to imagine a baby that I couldn’t fall madly in love with. I was just waiting for the one that would be “mine.” What I didn’t know was that there was a birth mother for me. Someone who would go from being a complete stranger to being one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. One I love and cherish dearly. I don’t think I have the words to describe what it’s like beginning a relationship in such an intimate way. It’s so much like meeting the love of your life, only you’ve been completely set up by circumstance. There’s a ton of excitement, a lot of apprehension, and the next thing you know you’re in the delivery room together and she is literally giving you the gift of life.
Being an adoptive parent is just being a parent. It’s beautiful and difficult sometimes. The big difference for us is the path that led us to parenthood. It’s one we nearly didn’t survive and because of this there is not a moment taken for granted. The opportunity to parent was gifted to us by a beautifully strong, selfless woman. It takes an exceptionally loving mother to place her child for adoption. Jessara’s birth family were the first ones in this world to place her needs above their own. The first to stand up against all odds to ensure their daughter had a good, supportive, loving family. How lucky we are to be the ones they chose. The ones who get to walk through this life with her, and how incredible that we will all be taking this journey together.
It’s amazing what the heart can endure, but not nearly as amazing as how it can grow and evolve. You just need the courage to let go of expectations and preconceived notions, close your eyes, hold on tight and follow it wherever it may take you.