Adoption

Welcome Home, Gia!

 

A very special homecoming! 

I met Rachel + Michael nearly 2 years ago, when they adopted their little bundle of energy, Jack, from China in April of 2015. I was there to capture the moment that the couple's two other children, Lucca and Ella, got to meet their new brother, and it was one of the most wonderful, magical, and meaningful things I've ever had the honor of photographing. I thought such an event was a once in a lifetime thing, but happily for this family (and for me), I was wrong! 

Rachel reached out several weeks ago to let me know that they were adopting another child from China, a little girl named Gia (short for Gianna), and would I be available to photograph Gia's homecoming to meet her three new siblings, Lucca, Ella, and Jack. Heck yes I would be available! (I seriously can think of maybe like two things I wouldn't have rescheduled to be able to photograph another homecoming like this, one being my own son's birthday, and the other being a wedding!) 

When I arrived, the children's Grandma was there with them, happily awaiting the arrival of Mom, Dad, and Gia! Jack grabbed my hand and took me on a tour of the house, starting with Gia's room, that she'll share with her new big sister, Ella. Finally, everyone heard the garage door open, and Michael came in to let the kids know that Gia hadn't slept much on the plane, and would need a minute as she had just been woken up from a nap in the car, and was none too happy to be awake. As Rachel comforted Gia in another room before the official introductions, the kids all got to hug Michael for the first time since he and Rachel left to pick up Gia at the end of February. 

In a few, short minutes, Rachel walked out with a calmed Gia, who was nervously munching on a snack they had given her, as she took in her new surroundings. The other kiddos could barely contain themselves, and as soon as all of the children were introduced, they each in turn began running to grab toys they thought Gia might like, and returning to show off their treasures to a slightly overwhelmed new sister. 

We snapped a few family photos by the fireplace (after all, it's a tradition now!) and I was even lucky enough to get to see Gia smile! One of my favorite moments (besides everything) was when Gia was holding hands with Ella, and then the whole family joined in. I don't know Rachel + Michael well, but the picture seemed so symbolic of what I do know about them, which is that they, and their family, already loved, accepted, and embraced Gia with all of their hearts, and that Gia was meant to be a part of this family. 

What a great honor to get to witness a family being built in such a wonderful way, not once, but twice! Thanks to Rachel + Michael for inviting me to share those moments with your family, and, of course, welcome home, Gia! 

--Sam 

p.s. If you'd also like to see Jack's coming home pictures, click here

 

Welcome Home, Jack

This past Thursday was one of the most special photographic assignments I can recall being a part of. Much the same way that I am overcome with feels during a newborn portrait session (and weddings, and bat mitzvahs, and well, really any special occasion where people are celebrating something big), witnessing a newly adopted child being welcomed home with open arms and open hearts by his new family is one of the most profoundly beautiful things I've ever been blessed enough to photograph. 

Jack and his parents had been traveling all day (literally) to get back to Wisconsin, following the finalization of his adoption in his birth country of China, and after a long (very long) wait in customs at the Chicago airport, I got the text that they were on there way, and was able to get there in time to capture the first moments of Jack meeting his brother and sister and grandparents for the first time. 

Now had the weather cooperated, we would have most likely been outdoors for this very special first meeting, but the sky was dumping out rain as only April skies can, and so the meeting took place indoors, which turned out to be lovely and equally as intimate  a setting, if not more so, than outdoors might have been. 

The kids were fast friends, and it was amazing how excited the two bigger kids were to meet their new brother, and to share all sorts of toys and stories and books with him. 
 

To be honest, I was expecting more crying, and not so much because of the situation, but more because when you get three young children in a room together for pictures, it's a pretty sure bet someone is going to start crying at some point, even if it's just the parents, but not a single tear was shed, and miracle of miracles, there was even a picture of the whole family, all looking at the camera, without a single blink or sideways glance in another direction! We even had enough time for a silly face picture, which are some of my personal favorites and go over well with the kiddos (which is probably why I like them so much). 

I snapped a few more just before packing up, as the kiddos were starting to rub their eyes, which made me smile to look at later, and made me want to immediately hug my family as well. You could see all the love pouring out of everyone in the house. Excited about their family, excited about Jack being a part of it, and excited about this new adventure they're all in together. It was super sweet, and super wonderful, and I feel so blessed to get to witness it that my heart just melts thinking about it.