Friday, September 7, 2012

Judah's Love Story: Part III


Dustin and I met on a plane heading to Jamaica with some close friends for a destination wedding. He sat next to me on the plane. We had never met and I was smitten. He was such a sweetie and so handsome. We were only going to be in Jamaica for a long weekend. During that time we spent a lot of time together getting to know one another. Once we returned home shortly after, we started dating. We dated seven months and got engaged.

I had found my soul mate.

He was my best friend, the one I knew I could always depend on. We were married one year later in the fall. It was a beautiful day full of love, family and friends. He was everything I ever wanted and now I was going to get to spend the rest of my life with him. We had always wanted a family so we started trying right away. After trying for close to a year with no success we decided we should get things checked out with the doctor. Dustin was unable to go with me the day I had my tests done. It was a sad day. I was just told there was a possibility I may not be able to carry children. My heart was crushed.

Now came the even harder part, I had to call Dustin and inform him of the news. I called crying and Dustin stated very sweetly that it would all be okay. We have each other and that's all that matters and above all, nothing is impossible with God. We just need to pray and have faith in Him. He was right. He made me feel so much better about the situation. We took the doctors advice and decided to see a specialist.

The specialist informed us that I would require surgery, but thought we had a very good chance of becoming pregnant. So after my surgery was complete and I was healed we started the fertility treatments. We struggled for three long years going to countless doctor appointments, endless amounts of medications, injections and procedures. It was an emotional roller coaster ride filled with highs and lows. We had each other and that keep us going, but we were not equipt to handle it on our own. We had our faith, family and friends to help us a long the way. At one point I had enough. A dear friend said, " Don't worry, we just need to pray about it." In return I stated, "My knees are blue." Very soft and sweet she said, "When you can't, we can."

 I wept. 

I had just realized I was carrying all this weight on my shoulders and I didn't need to. My hope was stronger than my fear. Our desire to have a child was much greater than the fear of not trying. We were going to do whatever it took to have a baby. We went from one procedure to the next and yet nothing was working. Giving everything we had and praying one day we would have the family we always dreamed of. 

I needed a break. We chose to stop for a bit and amazingly on our own we became pregnant! Words can not describe our excitement. Shortly after a few weeks later I miscarried. We were heart broken. The Lord had gave us what we had always prayed for and took it away. We chose to praise Him in the mist of the storm. We took time for ourselves and in a few short months we were ready to try all over again. We wanted to try IVF one last time. This time it was much more invasive. Praying all would work out unfortunately again, it failed. This go around we had two embryos left over to freeze. Months later we were ready for one last final attempt. We implanted the two embryos and waited for some good news. The tests came back negative. I was numb. I cried so much I could hardly breath. My heart was broken and the I realized I had to call Dustin and break his heart too. We couldn't continue going through this again. The one thing that I wanted to give my husband most of all and I couldn't. I would wake up in the night crying and he would awake to comfort me. He was hurting too. Why were we being punished? 

Why wasn't it His plans for us?

We had so many questions. God had a plan and He knew all along how this story would play out. We knew God was testing our patience and our faith in Him. We grew closer to God and each other. It made our relationship even stronger. After a lot of thought and prayer we decided to start the adoption process. We were a family waiting in faith and by God's grace, we met Meagan. 


She was our answer to prayer. Meagan was searching for a loving couple to raise her unborn child. The first time we spoke on the phone felt as if we had known each other all our lives. We met that same week for dinner. We closed the place down. We all had talked for hours. The night we all met Dustin and I were so nervous and yet so overcome with excitement. She was all we could have asked for and more. She was sweet, kind, beautiful and most of all loving. She brought us and unbelievable surprise that night. She handed us the disk from her first ultrasound and we were all tears.

She believed with all her heart that we were what she was searching for. The loving couple she wanted for her precious unborn child. She asked us questions and the one most important to her was, "Do you believe in God and attend church?" We replied, "Absolutely!" We were so touched knowing that answer alone carried so much weight in her decision. She was choosing us to be her babies forever family. We were over the moon with excitement. We continued to stay in touch. We got together for dinner almost weekly. We had other special outings as well. We attended all of her doctor appointments with her and even got to go to see the ultrasounds. It was amazing. It was so much more that we ever dreamed we would get to experience. At her twenty week appointment the ultrasound revealed it was a boy! Meagan asked us what we were going to name him? We decided we wanted him to have a biblical name. Each night we would say our prayers asking God to help make our family more abundant and if He would we would give Him ALL the praise. We chose Judah. Judah means praise! Lane, his middle name means path. We praise the path God had made for us to be a family.     


I asked Meagan if she would allow us to have maternity pictures taken. She agreed and wanted this pregnancy to be as much as our pregnancy as it was hers. So thrilled I sent sent Sandy Clarke a message. The only thing was she was going to have to keep it a secret. Our families didn't know of Meagan or the baby at this point. We wanted this session to be even more special by having Meagan be a part of it. Not only did we want belly pictures but the chance for all of us to be a part of it. So that one day Judah could see the love we all shared for him. Our session was beautiful. The pictures that were taken that day exceeded all our expectations. We all shared our ideas and it worked out so wonderfully. We were so honored to have Sandy steal our most precious moments. That day together will be imprinted in our hearts forever. We share so much love for each other and its all captured on film. How special is that? We used those special memories we made to share our news with our families. We chose Thanksgiving Day as the time to reveal our secret. What a better day then the day of thanks. They could haven't been happier for us.


In a short time a little over a month later, Judah made his grade debut. He was beautifully and wonderfully made. We were so honored to be allowed in the labor and delivery room. Meagan asked Dustin to cut the cord. There were no dry eyes in the room. We had witnessed a miracle that day. In the mist of the excitement and happy tears we began hurting for Meagan. How do you thank someone for giving you so much? A gift that has so much meaning. It is indescribable. Meagan had carried Judah in her belly for nine months. She had made the most unselfish decision I could ever imagine. She chose life for him. It is the most ultimate act of love a mother can give. She wanted him to have the life he deserved. He was the greatest gift we had ever received. Our love for him was immeasurable. We feel in love even more with Meagan's undeniable strength, unselfish compassion and trusting ways. 


We knew we wanted Judah to have a life knowing who his birth mom was and how much she cared for him. She was giving us the world and we wanted to share our love with her. The adoption was finalized. We are all doing great. We stay in touch and send pictures. We fill Meagan in on Judah's milestones he reaches and how much he is changing. We would never regret our decision to adopt. God lead us down this path and enriched all our lives. Judah has brought so much joy to us. His smile and laughter brighten our days. Even all the sleepless nights are worth every waking moment. We truly are blessed. God has made us a family and we are forever grateful. In closing we wanted to say we hope we have touched others with our story and maybe opened other couples minds about adoption. If conceiving our own child would have meant not having Judah than we are thankful for all the unanswered prayers. 


Judah is our true meaning of love for one another. 

With all our love, 

Tiffany and Dustin Davis

  Precious Judah today

**I personally would like to thank these two families for opening up their lives to all of us on their personal journey's with adoption. I know it took a lot to put their stories on paper and the vulnerability that comes along with putting it out there for all to see. I have seen nothing but amazing gratitude towards so many of you and I've passed them all on to the families in case they missed them or it was sent through message, so that one day, maybe Judah can see what kind of an impact HIS story had on so many people. I plan on gathering up all comments, messages, emails, and posts about their sweet story and I'm going to be giving this to the family so that one day Judah will be able to enjoy them all as well, so feel free to comment, message me, or send me an email and I will be sure to pass them all on! I know they appreciate every single comment made....because they've told me so! My wish for you, is for a better awareness about adoption and the possibilities it has for those precious unborn children. Thank you for spending this time reading Judah's Love Story.  - Sandy Clarke Photography



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Judah's Love Story: Part II

Only a few days shy of being five weeks, I sat in the cold exam room at the doctors office completely unprepared for what my doctor would be telling me shortly. When my doctor finally came into the room, he pulled his chair up and sat down only a few feet in front of me. After a short silence, he began by saying “Meagan, I know this is the last thing you are going to want to hear...” and then we were back to an awkward silence. It was right then, during his long pause, which my heart rose to my throat. I was terrified to hear what he has to say. I could barely breathe as he proceeded to tell me that my pregnancy test had come out positive.

I broke down.

I had a million thoughts running through me alongside a thousand different emotions. I first thought of my two year old son, and how this wasn't fair to him. I already felt I wasn’t there for him enough the way it was between school and work. I couldn’t provide everything I wanted for him. How on Earth was I going to do it for TWO little ones?!

After leaving the doctor’s office, I went to my best friend’s house. We sat on her couch curled up together crying. She has a son as well and understands the challenges of raising a child especially when you don’t even have your own life figured out. She also knew the amount of love a mother has for her children, and knew that no matter what I chose to do it wasn’t going to be easy.

That night, I laid awake wondering and thinking about how I was going to break the news, not only to my family, but also to the one who fathered this baby. I knew I just had to do it. I knew I couldn’t just assume how he’d react. For the sake of this child, I needed to tell him.

After struggling to tell him I was pregnant, his response was abortion. This was never an option for me because this wasn't about him or I, but about this unborn child.

For the next several weeks I struggled with what to do. I love children and I loved the idea of giving my son a sibling to grow up with. I thought he wouldn’t have siblings until he was older and I was married. I missed having a newborn. Being a mother already, I knew the unspeakable amounts of love a mother has for her child even before she sees or holds him. Could I even go through with an adoption? I was beyond confused and for the longest time I told myself I was keeping him. I couldn’t handle the idea of not having my baby, of just giving him up and not being there for him. Even though I was telling myself I made my decision, I couldn’t stop thinking about my other option. I knew what I wanted but deep down I knew I couldn’t make that happen. Making sure this child had the life he deserves meant more to me than being able to be the one to comfort him and to have him call me mom. I still wasn’t sure whether or not I could go through with it, but I started looking into adoption.
I knew nothing about this process or what to expect. With so many adoption agencies and so many legal aspects that I became overwhelmed. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do this so the last thing I wanted to do was to get some agency or legal firm involved. Once again I told myself I’m going to be the one to raise MY baby. I tried telling myself I could do it. I’ve made it this far on my own raising one child; I can do it with two. That’s when I had to correct myself. I hadn’t been doing it on my own. I’d be discrediting my family if I said I was. I then started procrastinating with making this important decision. I didn’t want to rush it and make an enormous mistake. I didn’t want to make a decision I would regret.


One day I found myself on the couch watching Teen Mom. The episode was a Doctor Drew session with the Teen Mom star that chose adoption for her little girl Carly. I had been watching trying to imagine myself in her shoes. That’s when my mom came down and sat in the chair next to me.  For the first time, she was actually watching the show and seeing that it wasn’t bad. I decided to use this time to break the news to my mom. Doctor Drew had just finished telling the audience to stay tuned to hear more about Catelynn’s story. When the first commercial came on, I stated “I’ve been looking into that.” I didn’t take my eyes off the television. I knew my mom was looking at me but I couldn’t look at her. She was so unsuspecting she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. She asked “You’ve been looking into what?” I remained looking forward as I responded “adoption.” I could still feel her looking at me but neither one of us said anything more. I sat down there a few minutes longer before looking at mom and then running off to my room to cry. She didn’t follow. I composed myself and we went on with the night as normal, making dinner, cleaning up, and playing until it was time to get someone ready for bed. It was after my son was asleep when we found ourselves on the couch in the living room together. It was that awkward silence when you both know nothing is alright but you act like everything is alright. My mom finally broke it by asking “how far along are you?” I responded matter-of-factly and didn’t say a word more. She could see how much I was hurting and how scared I was. She knew I didn’t want to talk about it, that I just wanted to know she was there. 

It was a few days later when she brought it up again when we were alone in the kitchen. She asked if I had been in contact with any agencies and what I was doing to check into adoption. I told her that I had contacted a few but never gave them any information. I told her that I was scared to get involved with an agency because I didn’t know if I could go through with it. She started crying and said “you know that would be the best option for the baby.” Having someone tell me that that my baby is better off without me killed me. Even though I was well aware of this fact, hearing it cut like a knife.

I decided to talk with my ob doctor about my option and he was so helpful. He didn't push a decision on me, just provided me with the information I needed. He also mentioned of knowing some couples that cannot conceive and are considering adoption. He said he would check with them and if it were okay, he would compose a list of potential adoptive parents I could chose to get in touch with. I fell completely in love with this idea! I felt in control. I didn’t feel there would be anyone forcing me to do anything I wasn’t sure of. 

I started looking into a few of the families, but something just seemed to be missing. I started losing hope and felt like I was running out of time to find a family for my little one. I knew I wanted to get to know the people before I just handed my beloved newborn over to them. I had to be completely secure in my choice if I were actually going to follow through with it.

That’s when I was told of another loving couple who was struggling to have a child of their own. They have been trying for numerous years and they’ve tried every type of fertility treatment possible; all without any luck. I was given three phone numbers, his cell, her cell, and the home phone. Contacting a new couple was terrifying. What where they like? What were their views of you? About a week later, I picked that piece of paper up and grabbed my phone. I was ready to go, call the home phone in hopes to get the answering machine, and got an error instead.

My heart sinks.

I call the woman's cell phone expecting to get her voicemail when she answered! I was caught off guard and started freaking out. I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t prepared to actually talk to her just yet. I started choking on my words when she took the pressure off of me. She started telling me all about them, even going back to when and how they met. She told me about her parents and her nieces and nephews, I mean absolutely everything. I didn’t even know this woman but something felt right. People always talk about finding the one you’re meant to marry, and just knowing they’re the one. Well this was a similar moment for me. I wanted to waste no time meeting up with them, which was extremely weird because I hadn’t had any desire to meet up with any of the other families I had talked to. She was feeling the same way. She told me that she was going to go home that night and talk with her husband to see when we could meet up.

We ended up meeting for supper a few days later. I remember all the emotions running through me. I remember hoping that they wouldn’t look down on me for being pregnant when I couldn’t take on the responsibility of a child. I had no idea how things were going to go.

Would I feel something special when I saw them?

All my concerns melted away when I met them though. They were it! They were perfect! You could see the love they had for each other. They were religious, had good stable jobs, and they both came from good families. They were accepting and considerate of all my feelings along with my family’s feelings. I knew that they knew pain and struggle and that they would make an impeccable team in overcoming the challenges of parenthood. It was so perfect; there was no doubt that it was God’s plan to have our two families become one in raising this unborn child of mine.


The maternity session we were able to do put all of my feelings into a photo. I knew in my heart that the four of us were a family and now we have photos that captured that. You can see the love and strength we all bring to the table. These photos hold so many memories and I couldn't imagine not having them.

To this day, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of that family of three. They truly are a part of my family and I couldn’t imagine my life without them in it. I couldn’t be more proud to have them be Mommy and Daddy to my precious baby boy. They truly are a blessing. 

Be sure to look back on Friday for the final part of this story, Tiffany and Dustin will tell us about their struggles with fertility and how blessed they are to have been able to find Meagan and Judah.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Judah's Love Story: Part I



Blown away with emotion.

These were just a few of the emotions I was experiencing leading up to this very session just over one year ago today. Wonder why?

Just. Wait.

Around a year ago, this sweet mommy-to-be, Tiffany, contacted me with a very special request. After years of struggling with fertility, she and her husband, Dustin, were looking to adopt and found a beautiful young mommy that they instantly bonded with, and whom was looking into adoption as a possibility for her unborn child and felt that Tiffany and Dustin were just what she was looking for.

Tiffany's request to me? A maternity session that would be including the birth mommy.


Understand why I was feeling the emotions that were stated above? :) I was so nervous it wasn't even funny. What if I mess up. What if I don't do these pictures justice like they deserve.  There's not very many times I doubt myself, but for this session, it was one of those times. I knew what emotions were already invested in this relationship and I wanted to capture the emotions, capture the love, capture the gratitude.

Oh yeah, I forgot to inform you that Tiffany mentioned that no one in their family knew about the adoption yet and was hoping to wait until Thanksgiving to tell their families. They were hoping to use some of the pictures from the maternity session to suprise their families, and what a joyful suprise it would be. So not only was I a nervous wreck, I couldn't talk to anyone about it! Only to Tiffany, so she got quite a few emails from me to say the least :)

But once I got to the session, and snapped that first picture, I was back in my element again. This moment then turned into one of those "This is exactly what I need to be doing with my life" moments. I was so incredibly grateful that this amazing couple had enough confidence in my ability to capture such an emotional time in their life.


They shared with them their stories, we got emotional, they even let me here a personal song that they all would listen to, and I'm honestly not sure how I held it together. But when I looked into the birth mommy's eyes, I saw raw pain and emotion, but above it all, I saw love.


I feel that when I hear these stories, that have such meaning and emotion, that I want to share it with those that enjoy my photos, so that they can truly, truly enjoy the pictures like I do. But I'm going to switch it up a little bit this time around. I'm going to let the ones I captured on this sweet day, tell everyone about their love story, about a little boy named Judah.

But I first want to tell each of them thank you for being so willing to share their story, their emotions, their reality with all of you. I know they also fought tears and emotions while writing up their stories, as I did when I was reading them. But one day Judah himself will read these stories and I have a feeling he's going to see just how truly loved he really is, in so many more ways than one.

Be on the lookout Wednesday evening for Part II of Judah's Love Story...

A Mothers Love.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baby Liam {6 Days New} Liam. This lil fella was 6 days new and such a sweet baby boy! Mommy, daddy, big sis, and even aunt Mikala came along for the fun. This was my FIRST newborn session that took place outdoors! Can you believe it, all this time and this lil man was my first. He did a great job though and I loved the look of his pictures. 

I think some of my favorite pictures are when big sis are included as well. She just looks so darn proud of her baby brother, I love those moments! I just had to share :)


This last picture I loved. This is a picture of daddy adjusting Liam's tie. Isn't that cute in itself? lol But then it just shows how little Liam really NEW he really is. Time reallly does fly and hopefully a picture like this helps mama him little for just a tad longer because we all know it goes by way too quickly! 

Welcome to the world precious Liam!

- Sandy

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Riggins Trio {Mini Session}

 This crew was so fun! 5 difference between each child, which I thought so was cool (and genius if you ask me! lol) All three very fun ages. First up we have the "stud muffin." He's the oldest and knows how to rock a serious pose if need be!


Next up is precious lil baby girl. The sweet middle child and cute as can be! Her smile was to die for and her personality was hilarious!

Last but certainly not least is this handsome little  ONE year old. He was so content and just plain happy! And did I mention handsome? :)



 And of course we had to show what this group is REALLY capable of :)


There you have it! THE RIGGINS! 

Next Up: 6 Day Old Baby BOY :)

- Sandy

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet Miss Emma

 This little darlin' is my first wee client that I captured her through my Watch Me Grow package I offer. This family is awesome all within itself, but this little one just simple completes them. She has such personality, all the way up to her crinkled nose!

See what I mean? I mean...seriously.

For me, Watch Me Grow sessions, especially the 1 year sessions, are so bittersweet. I have the opportunity to capture these sweetie pies throughout their first year and when that last session's sad! 1. they are already a year old. And 2. I get to know the families so well, they seem like family themselves! 

I will leave you all with a picture of Miss Emma next to her handsome brother, whom I captured back in 2010 at HIS first year session.  Whatcha think....can you see similarities? :)

- Sandy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scraper {Family Mini Session}

Let's see how this goes! I'm really wanting to keep up my blog because it's a good way for those that do not have facebook to continue to follow my work, but with life getting busier and busier, sometimes it doesn't get on the top priority list...but I do want you all to be able to cherish these moments that I cherish myself. So starting today, after I finish a session, I hope to do a blog on them. For those of you that I did sessions for this year and didn't get a session, apologies, but hopefully our next one you'll get a lil spotlight for your beautiful fam! So with all that said....

Meet the Scraper Family. I have had the opportunity to capture this family four times within the past year and I ALWAYS anticipate their sessions. And when I know dad is coming along, I smile even more. This poor fella, he's worked all night and then drove from Oakland City just to get told to "say cheese!" :) His reactions are hilarious and mom's reaction to his behavior is even better.

And then there are their girls. The parents awesomeness is enough, but then you throw their girls in the's perfection.
 To be able to see their growth every new session that's completed, it simply amazes me. For instance, bit sis here has went from shy, not wanting to look at the camera (or the crazy chic behind the camera? LOL) from....well...this.
 And then lil sis is simply adorable. She honestly reminds me of myself when I was that age. She would do things and crack up at herself and then big sis would get this "I'm trying to smile because a camera is in my face, but this chic is pushin' my buttons!" LOL! But it would created the CUTEST pictures! Their relationship is so stinkin' cute it's unreal.
I cherish this family and I can't wait to capture them all over again! Thank you Scraper Family!

- Sandy