Jeff and Emily
September 30, 2017
Brookview Ranch, California
a long awaited, sacred day.
Jeff and Emily
Ryan and Lindsay
October 8th, 2016
The Barn PNW
"I have found the one whom my soul loves." Song of Solomon
On October 24th of last year, God wouldn't let me sleep.
In the middle of the night, I was wide awake and literally compelled to go into our empty nursery and pray.
That night, I sat in our third bedroom and prayed over our adoption. I prayed for our child and the birth family, and the story that God was writing. I stayed in that room for over 3 hours and filled 11 pages in my journal. This never happened again, and I didn't think much of it until nine months later.
Nine months later, a brave woman gave birth to our baby girl.
And as we pieced together our stories, I learned that Ellery was conceived on October 24th, 2015.
The night I was called up to pray, was the night that all of our lives were greatly changed by one sweet baby, even if none of us knew it yet.
The final chapter of our adoption journey, really started to unfold last spring.
In March, we were matched with a birthmom who was having a little boy. On April 4th, we received a phone call saying that the adoption had fallen through. And just like that, we were back at square one.
The next morning, on April 5th, our adoption agency met with a birthmom named Emilie. At this meeting, she was shown our profile book. And the very next day, she chose to meet us.
Had our adoption fallen through even one day later, Emilie would not have been shown our book.
Seventeen days later, we walked into our adoption agency to meet Emilie.
My heart was pounding as we walked into the little conference room. I remember seeing Emilie, and her mom and her sister for the first time. Emilie was was standing, and we hugged right away. Within minutes, I loved her and her family.
Throughout the meeting we cried, Emilie cried, and her family cried. Tears of heartache, mixed with tears of joy and relief. We talked about Emilie's story, her dreams, her love for this baby. We talked about our life; our dreams, and our love for adoption. The hour and a half flew by.
As we sat across from Emilie, Kenny and I would look over at each other; and I could tell we were both thinking the same thing. This is the reason. This is the reason for all the confusing paths and closed doors and hard choices that we had to make: Emilie and her baby were going to be a part of our lives forever.
On Saturday morning, we got the official phone call. Emilie had chosen us to be her baby's adoptive family. We were so grateful, and really happy.
We spent the next three months getting to know Emilie. We hung out several times and we texted quite a bit. We met her whole family. They all met Parker. We shared meals together; and it seemed like we had known each other so much longer.
Over the months, Emilie has become more than our child's birth mom. She is our friend and an extension of our family. And because this is her story too; we wanted you to hear her own words.
Before you hear those words, please know this: Adoption is laden with layers of joy, and grief and beauty. And sometimes all at once.
When Emilie hand wrote us a card, to share that her baby was a girl, we were so excited. But there was also an ache in my heart. Em was going to sacrifice this sweet bond that a mom and her baby girl share; and she was gifting that to me.
As I held onto Emilie in the hospital while she labored and as we all saw Ellery for the first time, there was joy and awe for this beautiful little life, but there was also heaviness because we knew what was coming.
As Emilie held Ellery in the hospital, kissed her head, and handed her to me one last time, I could hardly breathe. This moment was sacred and we all knew it. As I looked around the room, tears flowed down the cheeks of Kenny, Emilie, her parents, her sister, and her brother. Ellery is deeply loved.
And that is what I will always know, Emilie loves Ellery, so much. Her chosen loss, her entrusting Ellery to Kenny and me, is drenched in brave, genuine love.
Every day when I look at Ellery, this sweet, amazing gift, I am reminded of Emilie.
Ellery's life is beautiful. She is a picture of God's faithfulness and perfect work.
I still can't believe that we were chosen to be her parents.
(Emilie's story continues below)
On October 24, 2015 my life changed forever.
A night of partying with friends turned into a night I was taken advantage of. Little did I know that 280 miles away, on the same night of October 24th, a woman was in a nursery praying for a birth mom and her child. That night God gave her the verse, “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones.” (1 Samuel 2:9) This is the prayer she prayed over me, and my baby for the next nine months almost to the day. Ellery was born July 23, 2016 at 1:39 PM, weighing 8 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 inches long.
I found out I was pregnant on my 22nd birthday. On November 19, 2015 I walked into the student health center by myself, took a pregnancy test, and was told by the nurse it was a “strong positive.” My heart sank. How could I be pregnant? This was not part of my plan. I was graduating dental hygiene school in four months. I had board exams to prepare for. I was a poor college student. I didn’t have a boyfriend, I wasn’t married, and I didn’t sleep around.
As I sat there in shock, the nurse handed me a packet of information. She told me I had options; abortion, adoption or parenting. The drive home was blurry. As soon as I got in the truck I burst into tears. I drove myself home, opened the door, walked into the bathroom and I looked at myself in the mirror. I told myself to stop crying. I had to pull it together and get back to school.
Shortly after finding out I was pregnant I contacted the birth father. I found out who he was and contacted him through a mutual friend. I have a feeling he knew what I was going to say. I told him I was pregnant. The first words he spoke were, “so, you’re going to get an abortion right?” I replied, “No, I do not feel right about abortion.” The words he spoke that stung the most were, “I'm not ready for this. I'm going to graduate this year. I have my whole life ahead of me.” Through the tears I said, “yeah me too…”
I felt the weight of those statements more than anyone. He could choose not to be involved and not have to deal with the physical reminders of what had happened. I was the one who was going to carry a baby for nine months. I was hurt, confused, embarrassed, scared and alone. Through my heartache, God became so real, so faithful and so good. I’m not going to lie, it was a hard road, but I could not have done it without Jesus.
Thanksgiving break came and I was heading home to see my family I was beyond nervous to tell them. I was scared and I didn’t know what was going to happen. When I told them there was shock and pain, but most of all love. I will never forget the words my dad spoke. He said, “Emilie, there is nothing you could ever do to make us stop loving you.” I have never quite experienced God’s love the way I did that day. I wanted them to be mad at me, but they weren’t. I wanted to be punished, but all they did was love me.
I was not ready to raise a child by myself. I knew that I was going to choose adoption. I wanted to bless a family with a child. I loved this baby already and knew I would not be able to give them the life that they deserved. They deserved to have a father who loved them. That was my prayer, for my baby to have a mother AND a father.
On December 23, 2015 I had my first doctors appointment. It was the first time I saw the little baby growing inside of me. As the doctor performed the ultrasound she informed me I still had “options”. There was still time to terminate the pregnancy. I told her I had my heart set on adoption. I started my routine prenatal care in January with a doctor who could not have been a more perfect fit for me. He had adopted children of his own. He was so caring and sensitive to my situation. He told me I was his hero, but I didn’t see myself as one.
The months of January through March were a blur. I was focused on school instead dwelling on the fact that I was pregnant. On March 6th I graduated dental hygiene school at 5 months pregnant. After graduation, I decided it was time to start the adoption process. On March 15th, I reached out to a local adoption agency and right away I was connected with Morgan, an amazing women who became my advocate and friend. We talked over the phone and set up a time to meet.
At our meeting on April 5, 2016 I saw the profile book of my baby’s family. As soon as it was placed in front of me I knew it was them. As I flipped through the pages, God was tugging at my heartstrings and I wanted to meet them.
On April 22, 2016 I met Kenny and Kimberly. I met the parents of my baby. Two incredible, God loving people. Throughout our meeting they were so supportive of me. Not only were they going to love my baby, they were going to love me. They had been praying for a birth mom, not only for a child. After our meeting I confirmed I wanted to be matched with them. Over the next few months we communicated through our agency via texting. I loved getting to know them. We even got to see each other a few times before Ellery was born.
After I met Kenny and Kimberly in person I wanted to find out the gender of the baby for them.
I learned it was a girl, a sweet little girl.
I loved her so much, even before I met her.
At night I would talk to her and pray for her. Asking God to protect her and for her to grow into the amazing woman that He designed her to be. As time passed I was able to feel her move and grow.
The months, weeks and days leading up to delivery were a swirl of emotion. I was so excited for Kenny and Kimberly to be parents to a baby girl. I was happy Parker was going to be a big brother. I was scared to go through childbirth. I was sad to think of not getting to feel her move and kick anymore. But above all, I felt peace. Peace that only Jesus could give me.
My due date was July 15, 2016.
On July 22nd, seven days past my due date, I was induced.
I got settled into my room with my mom, my sister and Morgan. Kenny and Kimberly got to come up and visit me along with my brother and dad. We all sat around talking and sharing stories. As I was lying in the hospital bed I was beyond thankful to see everyone in the room. I was thankful to be able to call Kenny and Kimberly family, thankful to have the love and support of my parents and siblings, and thankful to have the friendship of Morgan.
Ellery entered the world at 1:39 PM on July 23, 2016. I had asked Kimberly to be in the room with me for the delivery along with my mom, sister and Morgan. I had also asked Kimberly if she wanted to cut the umbilical cord. I could tell she was speechless and was so thankful. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the special bond that Kimberly and I have. Words cannot adequately describe it. I just know that God had a plan, even when I did not.
The hours that followed were bittersweet. I was able to look down and see a sweet baby girl in my arms. I am not an emotional person but when I saw her face I couldn’t help but cry. I had never seen anything so precious and I had never loved anyone more.
With Kenny and Kimberly by my side I got to introduce Ellery Mae to everyone. As I watched my family, along with Kenny and Kimberly meet her, I saw how she would be loved by two families.
Ellery stayed in a separate room that night with Kenny and Kimberly. Before bedtime they came in to visit. I got to hold Ellery and feed her the smallest bottle I had ever seen. We were all in the room, talking and laughing, trying not to dwell on the tough day ahead.
The next morning it was time to sign the adoption paperwork. As I signed my name on the dotted line, the weight of what I was doing for Ellery began to sink in. I love Ellery so much and on that day I loved her enough to entrust her into the hands of two amazing parents.
Saying goodbye to the Stones was difficult. I could see the love in their eyes for me as they thanked me for what I was doing. I was sad, but also happy because I knew I would get to see them again. I would see Ellery again. I would see her grow up. I would still be a part of her life.
As I kissed her little forehead goodbye, I told her I loved her.
My family got to say their goodbyes as well and we prayed together before the Stones headed home.
Things had settled and I was in my room for a little while by myself. For the first time in nine months I was alone. I sat in the hospital bed feeling empty. I wept, thanking God for what He had done. He let His son die on the cross for my sins. In that moment I imagined how hard that must have been. I loved my daughter so much and yet I knew she was going to go live with a wonderful family.
I was able to return home after a couple of days in the hospital. As I left in a wheelchair with an orchid in my lap instead of a baby, I got a strange look from an expecting couple that was touring the maternity wing.
In that moment, I realized it was going to be tough:
It was going to be tough to know that I just went through childbirth, yet no one would know by looking at me.
No one would know I had a daughter and how proud I was of my beautiful baby girl.
No one would know how hard it was to have constant reminders that I didn’t get to hold my newborn or see her little face.
No one would know how blessed I was to be connected to a beautiful family.
No one would know, and that was hard for me to accept.
I just wanted to shout from a mountaintop of how faithful God had been.
I am beyond thankful for the relationship I have with the Stone family. I trust them with my whole heart and I am so glad they are Ellery’s parents. It means so much to me to know they are continually praying for me and that they want to honor me for what I have done.
It’s hard for me to accept a compliment or be looked at as a hero. I know I would not have been able to be so brave without the help of Jesus. I want to raise awareness for birth moms, for adoption and for what adoption can be. My hope is that my story will be able to help others and that my story would honor Jesus for what He has done.
Kyle and Kelsie
August 7th, 2016
Red Barn Studios, Washington
"i have found the one whom my soul loves..."
Chris and Sam
July 9th 2016
Deer Park Villa, California
"this is living now..." -hillsong young and free
Caleb and Noelle
April 16th, 2016
"And our home was our story, yeah our home was our story alone." -Jon Foreman
Kyle and Kelsie
Portland, Oregon, Engagement Session
"the best thing to hold onto in life, is each other..." Audrey Hepburn
Mahlon and Morgan
November 7, 2015
White Ranch; Chico, California
"I wish I'd done everything on earth with you..." -The Great Gatsby
In March, we wrote this down on an index card:
"God show us a birth mom or child in need of a family."
This became our "impossible prayer" that we prayed for months.
In June, we received a Facebook message, totally random, asking if we would consider adopting a child who was currently in foster care, but would be "legally free" (orphaned) within weeks.
Immediately, we knew we had to pursue this little girl. This is what we had been praying for.
In order to apply to adopt this little girl, we would have to get our home study finished and complete a lot of training through the state of Oregon. The pieces didn't fall together at first, but at the end of August, God flung open the doors. We completed a home study and all of our trainings within three weeks, just enough time to apply for this little girl, before her posting expired. We thought for sure God was opening up this door.
But He didn't, and we may never know why.
In this window of time, we also applied to adopt a little boy who came across our radar. We were chosen as one of the top 5 families being considered, but didn't make it any further than that. Again, God closed the door.
With these answers and some new questions, we sat down at our agency to talk through some thoughts and options.
After talking with the director of our agency and spending some time praying about the next step, we have decided to pursue another local infant adoption, while also keeping the door open to a state adoption. We want to keep as many doors open as possible and just let God do His thing.
As far as where we are at today in the process, we are simply waiting to be chosen.
I've often told people, that we were made for this. We all have different callings and passions and this is one of ours. Our heart aches for babies that need homes and birth-parents that are faced with heartbreaking, selfless decisions.
Lastly, we want to share a few opportunities to partner with us. As most of you know, adoption is expensive. This adoption will cost about 25,000. It is an overwhelming amount of money, but we have to believe that God will give us wisdom and funds. There are three ways that you can practically help:
1. We did start a go-fund me campaign in which you can donate directly to our adoption. Please don't feel ANY pressure. It is just one of the easiest and most practical ways that we can gather funds right now.
2. We also appreciate your support and referrals to our photography business. This is how we funded most of Parker's adoption and it's how we hope to help pay for this one.
3. Mostly, you can pray for us. We believe with all of our hearts that God is in this and we cannot wait to see what miracles will unfold. Please pray that He continues to give us courage, patience and provision.
Thank you for all your support and love. It's so amazing to partner with God in the things He is doing. He is good.
we are so grateful,
Kenny, Kimberly and Parker
Brad and Kate
September 19, 2015
Private Estate, Lodi, California
"every great love, starts with a great story..." -Nicholas Sparks
Mackenzie and Anna
August 30th, 2015
Vista Hills Vineyard
"Love never fails."
Joseph John and Rosalyn
June 20, 2015
Chardonnay Golf Club, Napa, California
"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same..." -Wuthering Heights
Eric and Katelyn
July 19, 2015
The Reserve, Hillsboro, Oregon
"To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with..." -Mark Twain
So, so excited to share this new website with you. Welcome to our new space; our virtual studio; the place where we share our work, and our stories.
For the last year or so, I have felt like our website is not a good reflection of us. If you come to our home, you will find that we are minimalists (truly). We love that we own one big sofa, our walls are grey, and we accent with white. My website just didn't feel like a step into our living room, or office, or even Parker's nursery. We knew we wanted to simplify.
And so, our blog and website have been combined into one domain; everything is right here. We have rebranded our logo and trimmed a lot of our material. We have let our clients speak for themselves, instead of us. We have created a lot of white space, pretty lines and new content. It came down to this:
We want you to see our photography and read our thoughts without clutter. We believe the simplest of designs are actually quite beautiful and have the potential to be more meaningful. We believe in quality over quantity.
So make yourself a cup of chai, (you know we will), and enjoy some time in our new space. And like we always say, and we genuinely mean, we would love, love to hear from you!
k and k
I am the type of person who moves through life with caution. I want to be sure that the decisions we make are well thought out, and typically feel safe. I usually don't make a move, until I hear God shout at me...
And even though I naturally lean this way, God always seems to quietly weave dreams into my heart, that challenge my comfort and sometimes don't make sense.
That's what adoption was for me.
Our adoption journey was, to date, the most amazing and spiritually intense experience of my life. I felt deeply close to God throughout the process. Just the other day, I was reading through my journal from that time: I couldn't believe all of the things I felt and learned. Moments of deep grief, when God would close one door, followed by moments of great anticipation for what God was about to do, mixed in with moments of real chaos and fear. Truly, a roller coaster of a journey, that kept me very close to God.
I think these are the kind of moments we should chase in life.
And then, unlike a lot of stories in our life, our adoption story ended, and we got to see the different pieces of the journey come together and make perfect sense. God was writing a beautiful, redemptive story, and He was perfectly piecing together our family here on earth. There is nothing more satisfying to our soul, than being able to look back and see that both the pain and joy had great purpose in our life.
We trust God deeper because it is almost as if we could see His thought process.
Yesterday was National Adoption Day. There is so much to celebrate, and at the same time, so much work to be done. I feel the tension...
My friend shared this quote the other day.
"We need to err on the side of action because we tend to default to negligence. So many won't do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do. Why not default to action until you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait? For example, why not assume you should adopt unless you hear a voice telling you not to? Wouldn't that seem more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for orphans and widows (James 1:27)?" -Francis Chan
So let's not wait for God to shout at us. We have a great opportunity to bring hope and love to children. God can use you and in the process your life will be deeply changed.
Thank you God for sweet Parker. We can't imagine our life without him. Thank you God for Parker's birthparents. They are so courageous. Thank you God for including us in this story. We're incredibly blessed.
David and AllieSeptember 27th, 2014 Walnut Creek, California "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, made us alive in Christ." Ephesians 2:4 David and Allie's wedding day was full of joy, emotion, love, and redemption. It was a complete honor to be a part of their wedding day.
This was the theme of their wedding day, and I know it is what they truly believe.
Shirley and SpencerSeptember 1st, 2013 Grgich Hills Estate, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, Napa, California "Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -Mark Twain These two are beautiful people: Geniunely kind, generous and care more for others than themselves. We have learned so much from them and we are deeply grateful to call them friends.
We are also so honored and excited to see this wedding featured on Style Me Pretty today.
Shirley's mom has a special place in our hearts.
How can you not love them?
The details brought together by Marisa Nicole Events were just perfect...
And again, we are completely honored to have this featured on Style Me Pretty Today...
We are heading into the second part of our shorter wedding season this year. It has been nice to have a break while we moved and got settled in Portland. I feel inspired and refreshed and really excited to photograph some gorgeous couples back in California.
What a blessing to do what I love.
I wanted to share my vision moving forward with the business, as some people have asked if I will keep photographing weddings.
The answer: Yes. Definitely! We are still marketing ourselves in California and anywhere along the west coast. I would really love to photograph some weddings in the northwest this year. So, if you know anyone in Oregon and Washington getting married, we would be very grateful if you passed along our name.
Also, I have recently discovered my love for teaching again. As some of you may know, I worked at a high school, before starting this business. I have always been passionate about developing leaders and would love to encourage and help others in the same way that people poured into me. I just finished a mentoring a photographer over Skype last week and loved it. More details on this soon, but if you are a photographer reading this, and have any interest at all in a mentor session, please email me.
And yes, I am still doing a limited number of portrait sessions as well.
At the end of the day, we work as hard as we can. We work hard to be parents. We work hard to love well. We work hard to run a business with integrity, and quality. We work hard to serve people.
We go to bed tired, but fulfilled, because this is what God has called us to. And so while I can't predict all that will happen in this next season, particularly with the business, I will be faithful. God is good and He will allow whatever He sees best for me. I have to believe this.
Thanks for following friends. I am so excited to have a renewed vision and joy to do something that I love. Kimberly
Ryan and AshleeJune 21, 2014 Bidwell Presbyterian, Chico Event Center “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu Ryan and Ashlee love to have fun -- that is obvious in all they do. They are talented people, and loved by many. We were privileged to be a part of their wedding day last Saturday.
The ceremony was held at the stunning Bidwell Presbyterian downtown.
And because this just proves how much fun they have... Happy Honeymooning in Jamaica friends!
Greg and HillaryJune 14th, 2014 Bidwell Presbyterian, Chico State BMU "You are, and always have been, my dream..." -Nicolas Sparks Meeting Greg and Hillary and getting to be a part of their wedding day, has been such a privilege for us. These two love well; not only one another, but the people around them. They have waited years for each other. We know that these two are going to set the world on fire through their kindness, joy and influence.
And the reception was a beautiful celebration of their love with lots of family and friends...