The Jett Pack Adoption Campaign|2 Adoption stories in 1

Today’s post is by my friend, Tandra. We work together at Black Hawk Elementary and she is an incredible teacher. We share a love for Jesus and I know without a doubt our paths were meant to cross. Today she is sharing her story of how God lead her to adoption in more than one way. Because adoption is so expensive, I would love for us to come together to help her raise the $22,545 to bring home her next baby.  At the end of her story, I will share a couple links of ways in which you all can help.

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Tandra’s story:

Being a mother is one of the highest callings in life.   Even as a young girl, I knew that I wanted to be a mother when I grew up.  

Like many young women, I thought that I would find someone, get married and have children during or soon after graduating from college.  Around the age of 31, I realized that marriage may not be in my future and started considering the possibility of adoption.  I felt that my single status should not hinder my chances of becoming a mother.  At that time in my life, it was something that I was considering, but not actively pursuing, because I still thought that I would have time to have children.  

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Four years later, as a result of a medical issue, I learned that I would not be able to have biological children.  I was devastated, and angry with God for not giving me the desires that I had wanted all of my life.  In my eyes, I felt like my life was over or simply a waste. What good was I as a woman if I could not have children?  I scoured the Bible for answers and prayed relentlessly that God would miraculously heal my body and this would all just be a bad nightmare that wouldn’t last forever.  

Physical healing never came, but God pressed even harder on my heart that adoption was no longer just a thought that I should be entertaining.  It was His will for my life, and became my desire.

I was nervous to tell my family about my plans, and secretly looked on line at different agencies and different adoption possibilities.  I knew my parents and siblings would support me in any decision that I made, but speaking it out loud would make everything so real and also meant that I had to admit to myself that conventionally becoming a mother was no longer an option for me.

There were many sleepless nights filled with prayer, scripture reading, searching the internet, and mostly crying.  Something led me to one particular agency that specialized in connecting birth mothers with prospective families.  The name of the company also helped.

Angel Adoptions Inc. was a very selective company that only chose 5 new prospective adoptive families a month.  When I applied, it was already near the end of the month and I was told that there was only one more spot left to fill.   

Three days seemed like an eternity, but I was confident that this was where God was leading me.  I was elated when I received the call that I was selected to be the final prospective parent, out of over 200 applicants, that was allowed into the program that month.

As the first 2-3 months passed, I excitedly waited for that call that would change my life forever.  I carefully watched the website, decorated and set up a nursery.  I even made my new favorite verse into a decal and stuck it on my future child’s wall.

1 Samuel 1:27:  For this child I have prayed, and God has granted the desires of my heart.

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I knew that if God had granted Hannah’s desire, He would also grant mine.  I had so much to offer. I just knew that a birthmother would pick me.  In my mind, I had great answers to my profile questions. I picked only the best pictures of me that showed what a fun and loving mother I would be.  Angel Adoptions Inc. had such a great success rate in placing babies with adoptive parents.  I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I too would be chosen.  

Boy, was I WRONG!  A few months turned into half a year.  Half a year turned into a year.  A year turned into a year and a half.  I only had a two year contract with the agency before I would have to reapply and pay that mountain of fees all over again.  The mountain of fees that both my parents and I had taken out loans to pay for.  Meanwhile, I watched the monthly newsletters that came out celebrating the new families that were created from the sacrifice of birthmothers.

What was wrong with me?  What did these people have that I didn’t?  What made them a better pick than me?  Once again, I spiraled down into a pity party. All the while, watching my sister bring a new baby into her family, a sister-in-law bring a baby into theirs, and two cousins bring new babies into our ever growing extended family.  I wondered if maybe I had only thought I had heard God’s voice telling me that I would become a mother through adoption.

It wasn’t until late August of 2014, that I finally got my call.  A birthmother had picked me and wanted to talk to me.  I immediately called her back, and once again felt God reassuring me that becoming a mother was still one of His many plans for me.

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After many conversations, I learned that originally, the birthmother as well as the birthfather, did not want to look at any profiles that did not include both a mother and a father.  A single parent was out of the question for this baby.  She took her stack of prospective parents and started separating them into 2 piles.  A pile of “two parent” homes, and a pile of “single parent” homes that would not be read.  She told me she didn’t know why, but when my profile came up, she put it in the same pile as the two- parent homes.  She saw something in my picture and, on a whim, decided to keep my profile.  It was placed on the top of the stack and left to be read later.   When she finally returned to the stack, my profile was still on top and she decided to read it.  That was it for her.  After reading my profile, she knew definitely that I was to be the mother of this baby.  She did not read any other profiles.  The birthfather also agreed.  That circumstance couldn’t be anything other than the hand of God.

I knew that God had planned this child for me.  She had been designed to be my daughter from the very start, even before she was thought into being.  

The next few months were not the smooth sailing, “little to no worries” months that some mothers experience through their pregnancies.  It was full of ups and downs, doubts and fears that many adoptive parents experience.  One such time was when we learned that the baby, that was soon to be my child, was a girl.  I was excited!  My sister had three girls and I could imagine all of the fun things we would do together with our daughters.  My daughter’s birthmother had a completely different emotion.  Hers was one of pain and doubt.  She was already a mother to two boys and had always wanted a daughter.  She had gone back and forth with her decision several times, while I lived in a constant state of fear, before finally deciding to go ahead and proceed with the adoption.

On April 7, 2015, my daughter, Katelynn was born, three days late.  She was already showing me her stubborn and independent character.  God had finally given me the chance to become a mother.  A mother to a daughter who has the same personality and defiant streak I had as a child.  A daughter whose face lights up when I walk in the door from being at work all day.  A constant source of the words, “I love you, Mommy.”  Those are the 4 most precious words that I will never tire of hearing.

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Being a mother has been one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever had.  My daughter is the light of my world.  For the 2 ½ years that she has been a part of my life she has been my world.

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Recently, this past summer, I once again felt the strong desire to have another child.  I didn’t want Katelynn to grow up an only child.  I loved having siblings and I wanted Katelynn to have that same experience.  Deep down I told myself that another child would not be a possibility for me.  I would never have enough money to pay for Angel Adoptions services again, plus the agency in Texas, as well as the agency here in Illinois.  Every time the thought would enter my mind, I would suck back the pain and tell God that she was enough.  And she is.  She is everything I ever wanted, but that still didn’t stop the nagging feelings that I wanted her to grow up and have a brother or sister to fight with, learn valuable lessons with, and to lean on for support when life gets hard.  Everything I had with my siblings.  It never entered my mind that I would have the real possibility and opportunity to become a mother again.  It was impossible!

By now, I should know that nothing is impossible with God.

Once again in late August of this year, I got an email from the adoption agency in Texas. Katelynn’s birthmother was pregnant again and wanted to know if I wanted this child. She asked them to ask me first before pursuing other prospective parents.  I leaped at the chance!  My impossibility had become possible.  Katelynn could have a sibling.  A real, full biological sibling.

Many would think that this adoption would be so much easier having already gone through an adoption and with the same birthmother.  Boy, would they be wrong!  There have still been many obstacles and hurdles that I’ve had to jump over.  For instance, would I be able to get another loan while still paying off the loan from Katelynn’s adoption?  If I did get a loan, would it be enough to pay for all of the new expenses?

God has shown me in so many ways that this baby has also been planned for my life.  He has used a deep desire in my heart, a stranger with a wooden cross outside of the credit union, and a friend who has felt God telling her to pray for and help a family adopt a baby, without evening knowing my situation, as a confirmation that I am indeed to be this baby’s mother.

Once again, Hannah’s words from  1 Samuel echo in my mind:  “For this child I have prayed, and God has granted the desires of my heart.”jettgirls-231Ways YOU can help!

  1. If you would like to follow along with Tandra’s story you can do so over at the Jett Pack Adoption Facebook Page.
  2. For the months of October and November, a portion from every family session booked with jclaytor photography will go toward the Jett Pack adoption.
  3. Support this adoption by purchasing a Jett Pack shirt. Our goal is to sell 100 shirts by October 21, 2017.
  4. Give Financially at Go Fund Me.
  5. Pray- Pray for the funds to cover this adoption, for the health of the and baby and for the whole Jett family as they anxiously await the newest member of their family.
  6. Share this post, so that others may here Tandra’s story and urge others to help where they can.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to read my friend’s story and for helping where you can.

Grateful,

Jen

 

 

Lifestyle Newborn Photography:Tessa Grace {Springfield Illinois Photographer}

When we moved to Springfield five months ago, one of the first things we learned about our neighbors was they were going to become great grandparents this summer. This sweet baby was spoken about with so much joy and anticipation long before she entered the world. She is also the first grand baby on each side and her grandparents and great grandparents go to church with us so it was fun to get updates all summer long. I was so excited to get to meet and photograph Tessa and her parents.

When I arrived she was fast asleep. Her parents had a cute little number for her to wear for pictures so they worked on changing her and she soon realized something was going on and woke up. After a couple feedings, swaddling, and rocking we thought she was back to sleep. She was back to sleep for a minute or so, but mostly she just wanted to see what was going on. I love all the shots of her yawning! She was so tired and so awake at the same time and I loved how attentive she was to her parents and how she would stare up at them with those big bright eyes.

*I would like to note that her grandma made the beautiful gray and purple blanket Tessa was photographed on in these images.tessa-007-lowrestessa-002-lowrestessa-015-lowrestessa-009-lowres3tessa-040-lowrestessa-037-lowrestessa-023-lowrestessa-057-lowrestessa-092-lowrestessa-076-lowrestessa-078-lowrestessa-160-lowrestessa-085-lowrestessa-156-lowrestessa-135-lowres2tessa-246-lowrestessa-313-lowres1tessa-302-lowrestessa-289-lowres

Buddy the Horse and the Sines Family Farm {Springfield Illinois Photographer}

Buddy the horse has been an exciting addition to the Sines family. Last winter they worked hard to fence in their pasture and turn their existing chicken coop into a barn. They had friends who needed to find a new home for Buddy and the three pigmy goats that have been his life companions. Lindsay and Scot have always wanted a farm, so this was the perfect opportunity. Since then, Lilli has been taking riding lessons with Buddy and it was fun to watch her with him. Their youngest son, Zeke was able to sit on Buddy for the first time while I was there and his reaction was priceless! In some ways its hard to remember what their place was like without the farm because they are naturals with all that goes into taking care of the animals and maintaining everything.

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Rodden Family Session: Springfield Illinois Photographer

This family is FUN! My job was easy because they let their individual personalities shine. I can’t believe how well the outfits each girl wore spoke to who they are and still complimented each other. Plus I love all the colors. Nothing makes me happier as a photographer to capture people just as they are! We met through a small group at our church, so I had fun talking to them and getting to know them better throughout the session. Thanks for such a fun evening, Rodden family!rodden-145-lowresrodden-270-lowresrodden-113-lowresrodden-136-lowresrodden-262-lowres32rodden-207-lowres1rodden-183-lowresrodden-196-lowres4rodden-246-lowresrodden-130-lowresrodden-385-lowres

Stuck in the 50’s: Johnny’s Diner with Friends

My friends and I have really enjoyed some fun stylized shoots with our kids. The girl’s lemonade stand started it all and then the boys wanted a shoot just for them, so the baseball idea was born. Then my friend Mandy had the idea to do a 50’s shoot for the boys and girls. She was so excited when she found Johnny’s Diner. I can’t imagine a more perfect setting for what we were envisioning. Johnny was incredibly gracious to let us use his diner and we are so thankful to have these images. These kids were friends from the time they were in our wombs-they are more like cousins really. We have made some incredible memories and I’m certain we will make many more in the years to come. Now, enjoy a little trip back in time:)johnnysdiner-124-lowresjohnnysdiner-126-lowresjohnnysdiner-301-lowres123johnnysdiner-212-lowresjohnnysdiner-122-lowresjohnnysdiner-121-lowresjohnnysdiner-091-lowres8johnnysdiner-158-lowresjohnnysdiner-114-lowres

The boys aren’t quite sure what to do when you ask them to show their muscles…

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The girls on the other hand know just what to do in front of the camera;)

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Let’s try the muscle pic again.

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This last pic is pretty special to me. My friends, Melanie and Mandy, are basically family to me. We became friends very early on after Jonathan and I moved to Ohio. Though it wasn’t planned, the girls talking in the background behind us is just perfect because it reminds me of how their friendship is a reflection of ours. These ladies are precious to me. We have been through a lot together and raising our kids up together during the past 8 years has included some of my fondest memories. Now we get to look forward to future vacations together to make more memories:)

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San Jose, Costa Rica: My time at Roblealto

One of the most amazing weeks of my life was spent on a mission trip to Costa Rica this past February. A team from the Stow Campus of Christ Community Chapel travelled to San Jose to serve at Roblealto’s Bible Home. Someone from our team described Roblealto as a place that radiated God’s love. I felt it all week long. Every time I reflect back on the week I feel like I was given glimpses of heaven.

The land  Roblealto owns and lives off of is breathtaking, but the people we spent the week with reminded me more of heaven than anything. The staff at Roblealto are nothing short of amazing and selflessly serve all the children that come through their gates. Roblealto Child Care Association is run extremely well. (Click on Roblealto to learn more about who they are and what they do) The staff is showing Christ’s love every day to these children so that they know a love like any other.

Some of these children are coming from homes where they are neglected or even abused, while other’s parents are working so hard to make ends meet, they may not have enough money to feed their children. Roblealto provides a safe home full of love and all the necessities the children need. They do all of this because they want to restore these families and change their futures.

These first set of images are from my first morning on the grounds at Roblealto. I was able to wake up early before the sun rose and sit on top of a hill to watch the clouds roll in. The red roofed building below are the chicken coops. Roblealto has a fully functioning farm that not only feeds the staff and children, but also provides jobs and helps to fund Roblealto.

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The kids headed to school in the morning right before we would start work at the construction site. This particular morning happened to be laundry day, so those are the black bags you see some of them carrying down on their way to school.

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While the kids were at school we worked on the Eden house. Roblealto currently has 9 functioning  homes and when the Eden house is complete, they will be able to take in 10 more children bringing them to full capacity with 100 children. We worked alongside a local construction team to help frame, drywall and gravel the house.

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The kids were getting out of school just before our work day ended and then we got to hang out with them for a couple hours. Most of this time was spent playing soccer (better known as futbol).

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In the evening we got to spend time with the kids in the different houses we were assigned to. We had activities that we would do with them and every night before we left our house we circled up to pray together. We were fortunate enough to have someone in the house who spoke english and could translate what the boys were saying. One night hit me hard when one of the boys prayed for his mom to come visit him. I had to swallow back some tears. But it really reminded me of why I was there.

These boys were hugging us and pulling us all over their house asking us questions from the first moment we walked through their front door. I couldn’t help think of my children who would have hid behind me if someone new walked through the door. These boys knew why we were there. They knew we loved the same God and this same BIG God loves them so much he sends all sorts of people into their lives at Roblealto to help remind them of this. Some of those people include their house family. They are as loving and selfless as anyone I have ever met. They give up their own family time to love on these boys and help raise them up and their love and sacrifice and they had such an impact on me.

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The next two pictures fill  my heart with joy to remember how the boys and family interacted in the Arco Iris house. They laughed and hugged a lot and made each other feel important and loved.

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When you meet these kids you want to be a part of their life. It is not easy to say good-bye to them. Fortunately, we can keep in touch through letters and we have the opportunity to sponsor a child as well. You can too if you want! Some of the coolest moments were getting to see the children as they were introduced to someone on the team who would be sponsoring them. How often do you get to actually meet a child you sponsor?!

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My friend went on the last trip the church took to Roblealto and was able to send a letter and gift for the boy she decided to sponsor. He was so excited when he was told she sent him a letter and I loved watching him read it. You can become family even from a distance.

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By the end of the week we made a lot of progress on the Eden house. I can’t wait hear when it is finished and know there are 10 more children that will be blessed by this place.

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The sunset was beautiful the last night we were there. I ran all the way up and down those hills trying to capture it before it went down.

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We had a great team. We worked hard, laughed hard and cried hard. For weeks after the trip I was trying to process through all the emotions, not just from leaving Costa Rica, but we literally moved from Ohio to Illinois one week after I returned from this trip. I love how God uses so many people in our lives to connect us and teach us new things about Him. I learned something from each of the individuals in the photo above, as well as the wonderful people we met in Costa Rica.

Two weekends ago I was sitting with my new church family listening to a sermon on Revelations 7:9-17:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these,clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15  “Therefore they are before the throne of God,

and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

16  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;

the sun shall not strike them,

nor any scorching heat.

17  For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

YES! This is what it felt like to serve alongside my fellow brothers and sisters in Costa Rica. Something resonated with me as I sat and listened to my Pastor speak on this group of people in white robes all shouting together, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” One day, people of all tribes, from all nations will come together and proclaim this very truth. I got a glimpse of this while I was in Costa Rica and I’m forever grateful for that experience.

Newborn Days {A Lifestyle Newborn Session}: Clare

Newborn Days…

Snuggles and coos, swaddled in soft, pretty blankets.

Skin smooth as silk,

Intoxicating new baby smells.

Tiny fingers and toes,

One perfect little nose.

Awake, asleep, awake, asleep.

Rocking, shushing, kissing, hugging,

Feeding, burping, changing.

These tender moments go so fast.

Hold on, take every second in.

Close your eyes, hold that little one tight;

Take a deep breath and begin it all again.

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Our Kiddos {ages 7&4}

Tomorrow we start back to school and as I was thinking about what to do for first day of school pictures, I realized I never took pictures of our kids when they turned four and seven. Besides pictures on my iphone, I have not picked up my actual camera to take a picture of these two since this past Thanksgiving. I’m thankful the iphone has such a good camera on it to allow me to capture out every day lives, but it will never compare to my 5D Mark iii, especially if I want to print anything in large sizes to hang around our home. This is what we got in just under 10 minutes yesterday. I couldn’t be happier with these images and even though Nolan may be a bit goofy at this age, I wouldn’t have it any other way!E7+N4-052-lowres1E7+N4-068-lowres3E7+N4-086-lowres42E7+N4-012-lowresE7+N4-072-lowresE7+N4-091-lowres

Lifestyle Family Session: The Daltons

With three energetic and adorable little boys this family has a lot of energy! I loved watching the boys run around their beautiful back yard because they were in their element and their smiles were genuine. Nothing could be easier than capturing a beautiful family having fun in their own backyard.dalton-189-lowresdalton-201-lowres1dalton-058-lowresdalton-061-lowres2dalton-238-lowresdalton-252-lowres

Family Session: Elina and Family

It has been awhile since I have done a full family session and man how I have missed it! Elina turned one year old and a what a perfect reason to get some family photos taken. She was very serious, but oh my how her daddy could get her to smile. Sometimes things we see on pinterest (such as a baby sitting still and smiling next to balloons) just isn’t possible depending on how mobile a child is or what mood they seem to be in. I love the candids more anyway, but I’m guessing you all knew that already;) Enjoy some images of this beautiful family!

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