red thread sessions

Choose Joy

Eyes shiny with joyful tears, and lips curved into a smile that grew and grew... I listened to their stories. Stories of bravery. Of traveling an unexpected path. Struggling with infertility, and the possibility of adoption. Heavy decisions. Doors closed, windows opened.

The women shared stories that they hadn't previously shared outside of their inner circle. This was a safe place, filled with others sharing in their experiences. The joy, the pain, and everything in between. And comfort came in knowing they weren't alone.

I was there at the Choose Joy Event to help spread the word of Red Thread Sessions (complimentary portrait sessions for newly adoptive families). And while I shared the story of Red Thread Sessions with them... they shared their stories with me.

I met a lot of wonderful women who had made the decision to adopt a child. Some were at the beginning of the adoption process and it was all brand new to them. Some had gone through it before but were doing it again. Some women already had at least one biological child of their own, but wanted to add to their family through adoption. Some children would be joining their families from countries I'd honestly never even heard of before.

Each and every woman I met had a story of their own to share. And each and every one of them was absolutely amazing.

And I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. For being brave in the face of uncertainty. For sharing their stories with me. And for choosing to share their love with an adopted child.



Vendors there to share their knowledge, services and goodies: TheSuitcaseStudio_0025.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio_0026.jpg

And here was my own table set-up: TheSuitcaseStudio_0027.jpg

Even a fun craft for everyone to take home: TheSuitcaseStudio_0028.jpg TheSuitcaseStudio_0029.jpg

Some songs of worship were shared:

At the end of the night the event's creator, Emmy Blakely, shared her own story.


But my very favorite moment of the night was what followed. Raffle tickets had been sold for a lot of great goodies, but the grand finale was a jar of $2,700 cash that was given to one lucky attendee to use however they needed in order to help grow their family.

A ticket number was called, but nobody moved. Heads swiveled around the room, trying to locate the winner. A few moments later a noise was heard at a table, and the words "yes, that's YOU" drifted over to my ears. A woman stood and hesitantly walked toward the stage. Pure disbelief. She smiled and nervously laughed, but still didn't believe it was real. And happening to her. She asked for the ticket number to be read again. And confirmed it was hers. Then held out her ticket for someone else to triple-check. It was amazing and overwhelming and wonderful to behold. And it turns out that the amount in this glass jar was exactly the amount that she and her husband needed to reach their adoption fund goal. Click here to read her story, in her own words.


I am incredibly thankful I was present to witness this event, to meet these amazing people, and to hear their touching stories. My eyes are still shiny from happy tears, and my smile is still in place.

Choose JOY: the EVENT

Adoption isn't anything like you see on most squeaky-clean tv shows, where someone decides to adopt... and BAM... they've got a kid.  Adoption is a long process. It's complicated. And it's incredibly emotional for everyone involved, from start to finish... and beyond. For anyone who is considering adopting a child, there is an event happening this Saturday, February 9th which you may want to attend.

Full details can be found at www.ChooseJoyEvent.com

Created by Emmy Blakely (after her own experiences with infertility and adoption), this faith-based conference is geared towards women who are experiencing infertility and/or looking to build their family through adoption. There will be a luncheon and several breakaway session topics discussed, including the following:

Blending Bios and Adopted children & Transracial Adoption {Jamie Fink} Having a Heart of Hope: Overcoming the Hurt from Infertility {Lesli Westfall} God's Heart for the Hurting; Waiting Hurts, Waiting Perfects {Rachel Goode} Fundraising for Adoption {Kathleen Ellis} Infant Loss & Miscarriage {Julie Carson} When Adoption is your First Choice {Chrissie Rouse} Foster Care {Allison Dalke} Living Hannah's Prayer {Amy Srch} Living in 2 Week Seasons; Waiting in the Lord's Timing {Beth Lauder} When Adoption Fails {Dena De La Toree & Lisa Frattone} Open Adoption {Lesily Davis} Special Needs Adoption {Lyndsay Boulton} The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of International Adoption {Vanessa Clairmont} The Ethics of Infertility {Scott & Marlo Kurz}

Emmy will be sharing her own story at the end of the event. And the grand finale for the night: funds will be raffled off to one lucky attendee to help their family grow!

I will actually have an info table on-site, helping spread the word of Red Thread Sessions (complimentary portrait sessions offered to newly adoptive families).  If you attend the event, please be sure to come say hello!

For more information about the Choose Joy Event, or to purchase tickets, visit their website at: www.choosejoyevent.com



O'Brien Family // Red Thread Session

On Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting the O'Brien Family, and I instantly fell in love. With all of them. Matthew, Ashley, their new son John and even their cute dog Mo. They welcomed me into their home, put a hot mug of coffee into my hands, and made me feel like a beloved friend. All in an instant. And it was that kind of caring that I was looking forward to capturing during our photo session.

I was at their home for my first Red Thread Session. Ashley and Matthew had recently adopted John (You can read more of their story here on Ashley's blog), and I was there to capture some of their first family photos.

And this wasn't your everyday newborn session. Because it wasn't just about John (even though he was amazingly adorable.)

I was there to help celebrate their family as a whole.

Here's just one of my favorite images captured that morning:


Want to see more? Check out the rest of the sneak peek by clicking here to access their custom mobile app*

LOVE what you see? Share the love by simply leaving a comment below. If this blog post receives 25+ comments, the O'Brien Family will receive an 8x10 print of their choice.


*Each client of mine receives a Custom Mobile App containing images from their session. It can be viewed using any computer but is soooooooo much more awesome when viewed from a mobile device (such as iPhone, Android or iPad), as the image gallery can be saved to the device to be viewed offline for an instant photo album ANYTIME.

red thread sessions // Orange County Adoption Photographer

There is an ancient Chinese belief which states: An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.

This is a commonly-used saying within the adoption community. It symbolizes the bond that all adoptive children have with their adoptive parents, even before they meet. An invisible “red thread” connects them to the people that are destined to be a part of their lives. With this in mind, an organization named Red Thread Sessions was created in 2011 by a group of photographers who wanted to celebrate the beauty and strength of adoption.

I am happy to announce my involvement with this organization, and that I will now be offering Red Thread Sessions.

What is a Red Thread Session?

As stated on their official website, a Red Thread Session not only captures family portraits of new families, it also capture the precious, happy, confusing, exciting, exhausting, traumatic, life-changing time that is so often brief and fleeting in the life of an adoptive family.

To many people who have never gone through the process (or have simply seen the tv-version of it all), adoption appears pretty straight-forward. But I can tell you... it's anything but that. Not only is it a big decision to make, but then there are the inspections. The questions. More inspections. And waiting. (Lots and lots of waiting.) Hope and joy when the announcement is made... and  total heartbreak if an adoption falls through. More decisions, and more waiting. Lots more hope. And then joy (and normal parenting fear) when it all becomes real and an adoption goes through.

But this is just the beginning. There are adjustment periods on both sides. It's not a simple "happily-ever-after" kind of thing. it's deep, emotional, and sometimes pretty messy. But in the end, adoption is one of the most generous and rewarding things of all. In my eyes, adoption is one of the greatest gifts you could ever bestow upon someone. A chance to belong. To be loved. And to be chosen for these things.

To all of you who have chosen to adopt children as part of their family, I thank you.

For giving a child a home. For giving him a chance at a normal life. And for offering him your love.

In appreciation of all you are doing, I would like to thank you personally with your first family photos. Better known as a "Red Thread Session," these unique services are available for free to newly adoptive parents:

  • a family portrait session within the first 3 months of your finalized adoption to capture family portraits of your new family
  • a homecoming session where I'd meet you at your home to capture the arrival of your child and the first moments with your family
  • a birth photography session to capture the birth of the adoptive child in an open adoption

Please visit the website of Red Thread Sessions for more details/qualification information. Or if you are ready to get started, you can contact me directly. I will be offering up to 6 of these sessions per year (and more if my schedule permits).  I look forward to meeting your beautiful family.

Why my involvement with this cause? Not many people know this, but before becoming a photographer it was my dream to be a psychologist/therapist/counselor of some kind. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton with my B.A. in Psychology, then went on to work in a few different children's group homes. I fell in love with the children's spirits (even when they were being their most difficult), but was heartbroken at seeing the reality of "the system" from the inside. I wanted to delve further into this field, but life had different plans for me. I am someone who takes everything to heart and found that I was just too "soft" to continue in this line of work. I wasn't able to leave things "at the door" and took the stress of the situation home with me. After months of insomnia, nightmares and near ulcers, I was forced to re-evaluate my path in life. Changing the direction of my life was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make.

And so, I went on to pursue other dreams, never leaving this one far behind. I've continued to work with kids... volunteering, teaching and empowering them whenever an opportunity arises.

When I hear of an adoption... I light up with joy. Parents given a child they thought they'd never have, and children given a family they've always wanted.

One less kid who has to grow up in "the system," and one more family given the chance for happiness and love.

To all adoptive families... I thank you. From the bottom of my heart.