Adoption is the best story. This one in particular is very dear to my heart.
Adoption almost always conjures the thought “baby or international”. This isn’t always the case. Adoption so often means big kids and blending families. It means so much hard work, commitment and sacrifice. I recently got to photograph the Vallone family finalize the adoption for three of their children. Below is just a snip-it of their story. It’s not sugar coated and I REALLY like that.
Here is Latisha’s story about adoption in her own words:
Adopting more children was not something I thought I would do again. Our first adoption through foster care ended up being a long and drawn out court battle which I didn’t think we could endure again. However, on Jade’s adoption day, she looked up at me and said “Mommy, we should adopt again! I want little brothers and sisters!” All I could think was, “I’d rather die.”
I was so happy we had Jade, but the process, system, politics of it all were draining and overwhelming. If you’ve done it, you know why I’d rather not, but 3 years later here we were again taking that leap of faith into the unknown.
We knew we wanted to adopt a sibling group or another medically fragile child. We already had 5 children ages 11-20…4 girls 1boy. So social services was willing to approve 3 children max to foster/adopt. Jude was 18mo, Anthony was almost 3 and Ella was 5 years old. These kids were described to us as “feral” due to the severe neglect they endured. Think Russian orphanage but right here in our U.S. foster system. That’s what we were dealing with.
These kids had so many services, therapy for PTSD, behavioral problems, sensory issues, violence, ADHD, speech for auditory processing disorders, speech delays, non speaking and hearing issues, Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, Special-Ed classes, and pre-school. The older 2 kids had appointments or classes 5 days a week and were on a tight schedule from 8am-6pm most days. It was crazy. The younger child Jude was in a separate foster home. They had been apart for almost a year when we met them.
Our family decided to adopt the unadoptable. The ones that others looked over. Pick them. Commit to them for life. No turning back. For us it was like marriage with ups and downs and times when we would want to run away, but you make a choice to love. Not the kind of love that is happy, mushy and emotional. The biblical kind of love which is a choice. In sickness and health, till death do us part. There will be mountain highs and valley lows.
Thank goodness we had that mentality from the beginning because it has been rough to say the least. There have been many beautiful moments, but more of the difficult ones. And thats ok.
Life is not about being comfortable, looking put together, having well behaved kids, taking the easy road with lots of money and a fabulous house & plenty of leisure time.
Life is about dying to self, keeping your word, showing your kids what living out our faith looks like, seeking first Yahweh and His righteousness, commitment & taking the path less traveled. That is what love really looks like.
The Vallone Family
Kenny & Latisha
Our Kids: Kayla 21, Leah 20, Josiah 17, Naomi 15, Jade 12, Ella 6, Anthony 4, Jude 2
I got to share dinner with these lovely folks, then they showed me around SLO. They do such a good job of making their family work into a team effort. The love between all of these folks is pretty amazing.
This was just before we went into the court room.
The judge beamed through the entire hearing. He joked with Kenny and Latisha and even had gifts for each kid!
The case workers and social workers from the agencies that the Vallone’s worked with came to the finalization. There were so many hugs. There were so many tears. Several special people were involved in this process.
Once everything was said and done we headed out into San Luis to take some family photos. There’s a lot of love and affection between these two!
These three little ones have been adopted. They are loved, cherished, celebrated, and so well cared for.
It all comes down to this, these two people have committed themselves to radical benevolence and they will never get any fame or glory for it. I can’t tell you how awesome that makes them in my eyes.
To learn more about my family photography sessions, click here.