william • newborn

Sweet little William rather felt like staying awake during his session last week- partially due to an excellent night of sleep the night before (which I'm sure his parents appreciated!). He just did not want to miss out and I am betting that he will also turn out to be quite a curious little guy as well. :) 

I loved this session for several reasons- I got to photograph William's parents's wedding a while back and it is always a blessing for me to get to witness life's most beautiful moments with my clients- it's one of the things I love best about my job! Also, his nursery is decorated so perfectly. I loved all of the colors and textures. Such a peaceful and fun "boy" space.

Welcome to the world, little William!

why international adoption?

I've been wanting to start an open series of posts related to some of the questions we get about adoption- and this is by far one of the most popular. So, here we go!

The common question I get is something like this:

Why are you going to adopt from another country when there are plenty of children here?

Sometimes it's more specific:

Why international adoption, and not domestic or foster-to-adopt?

This is a big question we get all the time. And as a frequent receiver of this question, I have to tell you, it's a loaded one. If you're willing to be the asker of this question (which is totally an OK and appropriate thing to ask about), I do beg that you lay down any assumptions first.

I will answer this question from our family's perspective- realizing that for all the hundreds of adoption stories I've heard while in our adoption process, each and every one has been different. Every family's "why" is different, though some of the reasoning will be the same. So, please also understand, that while we are talking about something that many people do, there can be no one answer.


I'm actually going to answer the last part of these questions first, which is:

Why not domestic adoption or foster care?

Something I must emphasize first is-

In saying "yes" to international adoption, we are not saying "no" to domestic adoption or foster care. 

Please let me explain...

Yes, there are "plenty of children here". There is an absolute need right now for foster families in our area. The One Heart Orphan Care Alliance is doing some amazing things for foster kids and families in our area. Even if you're not ready to be a foster parent, you can still help- check out their website for more info. Reputable foster care providers in our area (Lubbock, TX) are Children's Home of Lubbock, Arrow Child and Family Ministries, Buckner International, and Texas Boys' Ranch.

When we began our adoption 4 years ago, our social worker advised us to get a few more years of parenting under our belts before we went the foster-to-adopt route (we had 1 barely 2 year old). Now, I think we could have done it and been fine. Admittedly, we were not educated on how fostering works and were just scared to look into it at that point- yes, we have had our assumptions, too. :) At this point in time, however, we have had years of watching others foster and that mixed with accurate education and information has made us much more open to the process. We know of many families who began an international adoption at the same time we did, and have since decided to forego the international adoption in order to foster, or chosen to foster in the interim. 

At the point in time we decided to adopt, we lacked the information and education we needed to foster. And at this time, we feel that we are too close to finalizing this adoption to start the foster care process- but who knows? It's a definite possibility for the future.

I also want to point out that though still imperfect, the foster system in our country is structured for reunification- a.k.a. reuniting kids with their biological parents. I think this is wonderful, however it can make for a very long process for those hoping to adopt. It has been a major blessing to me to get to watch friends love on their foster kiddos fully, not knowing how long they will be in their home, or how much it will hurt when they go. These foster families are making a conscious choice to love regardless of outcome, whether it ends in reunification or adoption- and that is exactly what God calls us to do!

As far as domestic adoption is concerned- our social worker explained to us that as a young couple who was able to have biological children of our own, we wouldn't be the first choice for most American birthmothers, who tend to prefer couples who haven't been able to conceive a child. (I am sure there is someone out there that will argue this point or knows someone for whom this wasn't true. Please remember the statement above- every story is different. Every adoption is a miracle.) From what we knew at that point, our wait for a domestic infant adoption would likely be a very long one.

And, the cost for domestic adoption is in the same range as international- on average, $20,000 to $50,000. So, for us, there was no clear advantage to domestic over international.


Why are you going to adopt from another country?

When Shawn and I began our adoption process, we were 28 and 29 and had a barely 2 year old biological son. We had experienced some infertility issues and 2 miscarriages. We had been to China 6 times collectively, and had the privilege of working in an orphanage there. We knew before we were even married that adoption was something we both wanted to do. China was on our hearts, however, we didn't meet China's adoptive parent requirements (age and income), and so we decided to pursue an Ethiopian adoption. 

However, when it came time to do our home study with our social worker (one of the first steps in the process), I was a ball of nerves. I look back now (over 4 years later) and realize I'd brought all sorts of guilt and expectation with me to those meetings. Guilt that we should be "staying in our own country" instead of "taking a child from their home". Worry that we wouldn't be up to the task of raising a child who didn't look like us and has a different genetic makeup. While mailing off paperwork one day, the postal worker said to me, "well you know there are a lot of needy children here in America..." (thanks a lot, lady I don't even know). Really, I had the same question myself- why would we go halfway across the world to take a child from the only "home" she knows? Isn't that just cruel?

Our blessed social worker also helped us work through several of the reasons we'd felt led to adopt internationally. These were the two major reasons for us:

We had a global perspective. That first trip to China really opened my eyes as to how other people live in different parts of the world. Seeing another culture first-hand created a respect for other cultures and a thankfulness for my own upbringing that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I realized that "different" doesn't equal "bad", and that my American culture was good but had it's own downfalls- just like any other world culture. This perspective has allowed both Shawn and I to consider our future adoptive daughter as "our daughter" and not necessarily "our adopted Chinese daughter". Though she may be referred to in that way as to avoid confusion, there is a difference in mindset. 

We are totally excited to incorporate some Chinese culture into our family traditions, and as adoptive parents of a daughter born in China, we are required to. As a part of our lifelong commitment to adopt and care for our daughter, we will also be required to send the Chinese government yearly updates and have promised to teach her about her heritage. We consider her birth country and heritage an exciting and special part of our daughter's story.

 

We were (and are) rich. No, this doesn't mean we had tens of thousands of dollars sitting in a bank account, waiting to be spent on an adoption. But by the world's standards, as average-earning Americans, we made more than 99% of the rest of the world. And because we are Christians and believe that all we own is given to us by God- and that it is our job to steward it well- welcoming one more makes sense. Within 5 miles of our home, we have 2 of the best hospitals in the region, our pediatrician, and at least 5 urgent care clinics. Specialists are a phone call or doctor's referral away. Our local school district is excellent. Our city is not polluted and disease is kept under control. Our neighborhood is safe. That kind of access to resources is NOT something the rest of the world can boast about. One of the things our social worker pointed out is that the basic needs of orphans in other countries are typically needs that literally cannot be met in that country. In our future daughter's case, we know that her special need will likely be the major reason she will be eligible for international adoption. It is not that China does not have the ability to treat her needs, they do- but that treatment requires caregivers who are able to afford it, and most in China cannot. 

At the time we filled out the application with our agency, we actually only had about $2,000 saved- but thanks to a very generous community, several grants and fundraising, we've been able to do it completely debt-free. God has proven Himself to us financially in many ways through this process. 


Now for the sticky, messy part. The part that deals with the question behind the question- 

Why are you not adopting from “your own” country?

I know that right now, our country is in the middle of a big immigration mess. "Immigration" means many things to many people right now- but to our family, it also means "adoption".

Without getting too political, I have to say that the insinuation that we would be going against "our own" country by adopting internationally is rooted in ignorance. As a family, we have been very intentional to "help those in our own backyard"- especially children and families in need- and do frequently (so can you!). 

But after all, this is America- we were all immigrants to begin with. The more I think about this question, the more I realize it is rooted in ethnocentrism. If our hearts are truly for the orphan- any orphan- it wouldn’t matter where they came from. So there is my stance on immigration. People are people.

Our daughter will be a naturalized American citizen. She will be "our own" just as we natural-born citizens are.

I had a moment I will never forget when Knox was about 2 years old- right at the beginning of our adoption process. He was playing by the window in a diaper and I thought, "what if that baby waiting halfway across the world was my Knox?" Oh, how quickly I would go after him! How forcefully I would pursue a new home and life for him here with us! It didn't take my Mom heart long to totally "get it".

Friends, a child who needs a family- no matter where they are located on the planet- is a child who needs a family.

So there is my (albeit long-winded) answer. It doesn't matter how you get there, or where they came from. We LOVE adoption, and think it is GOOD. Period. 


To see more adoption-related posts click here: www.lissaanglin.com/adoption

michael + cassidy • wedding at llano estacado winery

There have been times in my career as a wedding photographer that I realize I will not easily forget- and this wedding was definitely one of them. So much love and thoughtfulness was poured into this day by both the bride and the groom- not one aspect of their wedding day was unintentional (thanks to Cassidy's astounding organizational skills) - and so when they chose us to document it all, we were pretty honored and excited. 

Michael and Cassidy are pretty much the coolest- they have cool jobs (she works for Whole Foods' Whole Kids Foundation and he is a is the head butcher at foodie hotspot Dai Due) and live in a cool city (Austin, duh). But more than that- these two are so astute at bringing people in and loving them well. Cassidy grew up in Lubbock and Michael is from New Jersey- and it was so much fun to watch all of their people and histories mix, mingle and celebrate new beginnings and new family. There were real tears and belly laughs during their ceremony, and I believe it is because these two are truly loved and celebrated.

Llano Estacado was the perfect setting for this Springtime fête- and not only did we have beautiful sunlight but also a great West Texas sunset. I'm about to overshare on photos- don't say I didn't warn you! 

Congrats, Donnellys! 

Venue: Llano Estacado Winery

Coordination: Hailey Rotenberry with Llano Estacado

Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero, Kleinfeld

Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal

Groomsmen: First Class Tuxedo

Hair & Makeup: Anastasia Strattan

Floral, Cakes and Catering: Market Street

Wedding Stationery: Michael's Stores & Minted

DJ: Shawn Pena, Platinum DJ

Trolley: CitiBus of Lubbock

6 MORE Great Places To Get Married in the Lubbock Area

It's been almost two years since I first posted my first list of favorite venues in the Lubbock area- and amazingly, there have been many more pop up in just the past year or so! A couple of these I had just not shot at previously, but several have been recently built (which means they are all nice and new facilities for you and your guests). 

Finding a venue is one of the very first things a bride will need to do when she begins planning her wedding. There are many venues in our area, but not all are well-known. While I love photographing at churches, I've excluded from this list as most people will select their church ceremony based on their individual faith or denomination. Here are 6 MORE wonderful venues around Lubbock you definitely need to check out: 

The next two venues are brand new to the Lubbock area and have both been built so thoughtfully, with the bride in mind. I love shooting at both:

Autumn Oaks Event Center

www.autumnoakslubbock.com   •   10210 Woodrow Road, Ropesville, TX   •   806-553-0532

Autumn Oaks has large and luxurious getting ready rooms for the bride and groom and I LOVE shooting with all the natural light the venue offers. 

Autumn Oaks has large and luxurious getting ready rooms for the bride and groom and I LOVE shooting with all the natural light the venue offers. 

Eberley Brooks

www.eberleybrooks.com   •   8602 CR 7000, Lubbock, TX•   806-777-0422

THE WOOD, CONCRETE, AND BRICK TEXTURES OF EBERLEY BROOKS ARE SUCH A BEAUTIFUL BACKGROUND FOR MANY DECORATING STYLES AND THIS VENUE ALSO HAS WONDERFUL GETTING READY ROOMS.

THE WOOD, CONCRETE, AND BRICK TEXTURES OF EBERLEY BROOKS ARE SUCH A BEAUTIFUL BACKGROUND FOR MANY DECORATING STYLES AND THIS VENUE ALSO HAS WONDERFUL GETTING READY ROOMS.

This venue has been around forever, but I don't get the chance to shoot there since I am usually doing larger weddings- but I LOVE St. Paul's for so many reasons!

St. Paul's Church on the Plains

www.mylubbock.us   •   40th & University, Lubbock, TX   •   806-767-3724

ST. PAUL'S IS PERFECT FOR AN INTIMATE GARDEN WEDDING AND HAS A ROSE GARDEN ADJACENT FOR A SMALL RECEPTION AS WELL.

ST. PAUL'S IS PERFECT FOR AN INTIMATE GARDEN WEDDING AND HAS A ROSE GARDEN ADJACENT FOR A SMALL RECEPTION AS WELL.

You might notice a theme with these next three. If you're a wine-lover, prepare yourself for pure bliss here:

McPherson Cellars

www.mcphersoncellars.com   •   1615 Texas Ave. Lubbock, TX   •   806-687-9463

MCPHERSON CELLARS IS LOCATED IN DOWNTOWN LUBBOCK AND HAS A COLORFUL, COOL VIBE WITH AN OUTDOOR COURTYARD AND INDOOR INDUSTRIAL SPACE. OF COURSE, YOU CAN SERVE THEIR DELICIOUS WINES AT THE RECEPTION.

MCPHERSON CELLARS IS LOCATED IN DOWNTOWN LUBBOCK AND HAS A COLORFUL, COOL VIBE WITH AN OUTDOOR COURTYARD AND INDOOR INDUSTRIAL SPACE. OF COURSE, YOU CAN SERVE THEIR DELICIOUS WINES AT THE RECEPTION.

Llano Estacado Winery

www.llanowine.com   •   3426 East F.M. 1585 Lubbock, TX   •   1-800-634-3854

LLANO ESTACADO IS JUST SOUTH OF LUBBOCK AND HAS A GREAT SETUP FOR WEDDINGS WITH AN ADJACENT VINEYARD. I ALSO RATE THIS BRIDE'S ROOM TOP-NOTCH! I LOVE LLANO'S ROSÉ, AND SO WILL YOUR GUESTS. 

LLANO ESTACADO IS JUST SOUTH OF LUBBOCK AND HAS A GREAT SETUP FOR WEDDINGS WITH AN ADJACENT VINEYARD. I ALSO RATE THIS BRIDE'S ROOM TOP-NOTCH! I LOVE LLANO'S ROSÉ, AND SO WILL YOUR GUESTS. 

This last venue is actually a little south of Lubbock, near Abilene- but I loved it so I wanted to include it, just in case any of you Lubbock brides might be interested in a local "destination" wedding!

Christoval Vineyards

www.christovalvineyards.com   •   Christoval, TX   •   1-325-315-8077

CHRISTOVAL VINEYARDS IS A WIDE-OPEN, LOVELY PLACE WITH MANY CEREMONY AND RECEPTION OPTIONS- AND OF COURSE, PLENTY OF WINE!

CHRISTOVAL VINEYARDS IS A WIDE-OPEN, LOVELY PLACE WITH MANY CEREMONY AND RECEPTION OPTIONS- AND OF COURSE, PLENTY OF WINE!

I have not been compensated by any of the venues listed here or in my other blog post- this is simply my professional opinion. Happy wedding planning!

hayden kate • newborn

I got to photograph my newest niece's newborn portraits yesterday. She is just the sweetest, sleepy, squishy little girl and did such a great job for us. When your auntie is a photographer, you get the special "privilege" of an extra-long photo session while I try out new ideas :).

Sweet Hayden was 9 lbs. when she was born and came with all the rolls I had prayed for! We are thankful she is healthy and is doing great. It has been really neat to see my sister and brother-in-law transition to parents- we already knew they would be great, and of course, they are. Here is our Hayden!

the bradshaw family

There are some segments of God's timing that just astonish me. For the past few weeks, the weight (and wait!) of our seemingly-unending adoption has been hanging out in the background of my thoughts. I've been sitting with the restlessness of knowing something is coming, but I can't do anything about when it will happen. And then, God gives me a great gift in my everyday work. The best part is, this story isn't even about me-

The Bradshaws have been waiting for their little one for some time as well- I have been following their infertility/adoption journey online and could relate to so many different aspects of it. So, I could not have been more honored to get to photograph them and their son finally together. Sweet baby Boone is just precious- he cuddled up the entire session and hardly made a peep! In between moments of me gushing over their beautiful home (Sara is an architect and photographer in her own right) and hearing about their adoption process, Boone slept peacefully and gave us the occasional grunt and yawn.

Thank you guys, for the opportunity to photograph you all together- it was like salve to my heart! And congratulations! So excited for your family!

rainy day

It was a grey, rainy day here in Lubbock yesterday- a vast difference from the high 80's we were experiencing just last week- and I wanted to challenge myself to shoot in the darker environment within our home. So, I photographed Liv doing her thing at home for a bit and then when Knox got home from school, we decided we'd better go splash in those puddles! Once we came inside and were warming our feet, my mom showed up with the cutest Valentine's cookies from The Cakery. Turned out to be a pretty wonderful afternoon. 

Here are the images I shot- these everyday moments always end up being the ones I treasure most!

I shared more images and some info behind how I shot these with my private How To Work It Facebook group. If you're interested in learning how to work your fancy camera, check out my online workshop here!

These were all shot with my Sigma Art 35mm lens.

If you are a part of my How To Work It group, just click this image to be fast-tracked to the behind-the-scenes video (you will need to log in first).

In this one, I share my thought process behind how and what I was shooting, my settings, and a few tips on how to make your images better. Hope this is helpful for you!

Hayden Kate's Nursery

My niece Hayden Kate is due any day now so last week I wanted to capture a few images of my sister, Layne, at her roundest and loveliest yet. :) I am OBSESSED with the gorgeous wallpaper she put in her nursery so I asked Layne if she wouldn't mind sharing a bit about Hayden's room here on my blog! 

So, here is Layne with a little tour of Hayden's room!

When I started dreaming of the little room I would soon rock my sweet baby in, my first thought was that I wanted it to be a place that felt warm and peaceful.  If you have seen other parts of my house- this would make sense to you- my husband will kindly refer to it as “50 Shades of Blue.”  Ha. I like the color blue and honestly had to really focus on not making her room totally blue.  I was unsure of where to start and my mom gave me the advice of “Find something you love and go from there!”

So my search began and while browsing Pinterest, I came across this blog where she featured a floral wallpaper used in her daughters room that I loved.  After browsing the Ellie Cashman wallpapers, blowing up my mom and sisters' phones, I finally settled on the Dark Floral II Black Saturated XL (200%) Wallpaper .

The rest of the room flowed from there!  Because I splurged a little on the wallpaper, to stay under the budget, we found a lot of the other items at estate sales, Craigslist, and garage sales!  I cannot take credit for all of it, I had a lot of help from my talented family and friends.  

Crib: Craigslist find- distressed with “Dust of Ages”

Bedding: Target, our goal was to keep it clean and simple!

LubbockWeddingPhotographer_2325.jpg

 

Plates: Peter Rabbit plates, my Mom scored these at an estate sale!

Mobile:  Made by my sister Lauren and I- but lets be real, mostly her!  My favorite part about it is the blue band at the top- It is my belt I wore with my wedding dress that Lauren also made. 

Mirror: Garage Sale, again scored by my Mom

Unicorn: Target

Curtains: TJ Maxx

Dresser:  Antique store find by my Momma (she did a lot of hunting for me:))

Chandelier:  Pottery Barn Kids, bought ages ago in college!!!

Glider: Gift from my in-laws from Babies 'R' Us

Quilted Blanket:  Made by my talented sister.  I am in love with the details!!!

Toy shelf:  Garage Sale find! 

Toy bins: Target

Shelf: piece of wood from a friends old house (Whitworths)

“You are my Greatest Adventure” painting: made by my talented momma!!

Wreath:  One of my favorite pieces of her room.  This wreath was my sister, Lauren's, idea.  At my Lubbock shower ladies wrote prayers on leaves for Hayden Kate.  Their words will be cherished forever and to know HK’s room is covered in prayers puts this mommas heart at peace. The flowers were also crafted at the shower! Lauren took both the leaves and the flowers and created the most beautiful, meaningful wreath. 

Owl: Target

Blocks: Estate Sales, you guessed it- my momma found them!

“Hayden Kate” bunny sign and “Isn’t She Lovely”:  Maggie McMurry with: @lettermemarie on Instagram

“Hayden Kate” banner:  made by my sister Lauren

China cabinet : a piece of furniture from the house we grew up in

 

I feel so blessed to get to bring Hayden Kate home to a room filled with love, prayers, and awaited adventures.  While I feel like her room itself is a gift, the gift of life from our Savior far exceeds anything I could add or put into her room.  We feel extremely blessed and excited to meet our baby girl!