Austin Child Photography |Tatum’s Adoption Journey

May 18, 2021

Adoption stories can be so beautiful. Sometimes, they start out with heartache. They can be full of legal, health, and interpersonal struggles. Adoptions often take years to complete. But in the end, adoption ends up with the greatest gift — a new family member. In all my years doing Austin child photography, this is one of my favorite family stories.

Here’s Tatum’s adoption story: from the beginning to now.

About The Howard Family

The Howard Family (Tatum’s family) is a big, warm, lovely church-going family. Like many families, their church is very important to them, and was integral to Tatum’s adoption journey. The Howard kids are only the newest members in a long line of Howards at their church. In fact, parts of the church are named after their family!

family photos on the university of texas campus in austin.

I’ve been doing Austin child photography and family photography for many years, and the Howards are a long-time family client. In fact, the photo shot in the upper left hand corner of this collage was one they recreate every year. We’ll be doing one with Tatum, soon!

During this photo shoot at the University of Texas, they let me know that they had just received a call about adopting a little girl. She had just been born, but that was about all they knew! It was exciting and nerve-wracking for them.

Meet Tatum

photo of little girl who just got adopted

Tammy and Keith have 4 children — Ayden, Hank, Gavin, and newest member Tatum. Three of the Howard children are considerably older than Tatum, but that doesn’t stop them from loving one another.

collage of family photos after adoption hearing

Tatum’s adoption process took quite awhile, but it was all worth it in the end. Through medical and legal struggles, and the pandemic, this bright and bubbly little girl finally just made it through her final adoption process. She truly looks as if she has always been a part of the Howard family from Day 1.

Tatum’s Newborn Photos

sleeping baby on pink with her head on her hands

This beautiful little girl got her newborn photos done when she was 3 months old. Normally, I do newborn photography a little earlier on, around 7-17 days, but Tatum was tiny and we wanted to give her some extra time for her cheeks to fill out!

collage of newborn baby girl photos

Special babies call for special newborn photography rules!

The yellow sunburst blanket featured in many of these pictures was made by someone at her church and given to her when she arrived.

Baby Milestone Session

Nowadays, baby milestone pictures are all the rage. For the Howards, it was especially important to document Tatum’s milestones as a way to remember the precious moments they had with her. This family truly celebrated Tatum’s life and milestones and loved her unconditionally throughout Tatum’s adoption process. The pandemic made the adoption process longer and more difficult than most.

happy baby girl in a gold bowl with purple flowers

Despite that, Tatum is such a happy baby, and was especially happy during her milestone session. Just look at her beaming smiles! True to the nature of the Howards, Tammy was so easygoing about the theme of the milestone session. She simply requested “purple”.

collage of baby girl milestone photos

I created this purple floral setup for Tatum’s milestone session and cannot be more pleased with the way it came out. It is one of my favorite milestone sessions from all of my career.

First Birthday Photography

Tatum’s milestone session wasn’t the last I’d see of her, and thank goodness! This little one is so full of love and light, and I was thrilled to be able to capture her first birthday on film.

fall themed first birthday photo

Tatum got fall-themed first birthday photo set. This was such a fun photoshoot! I loved being able to incorporate traditional fall colors with a little glitz and sparkle. It really fit with this little one’s personality. She’s so vivacious!orange, pink, gold first birthday photos

I especially adored these first birthday studio sessions in front of this glittery background. The soft sparkles of the sequins in the background matched the happy sparkles in her eye. Of course, it’s not a first birthday photo shoot without a cake smash, so I made sure to include a cake smash in a few shots…

orange, pink, and gold first birthday fall themed photos

Unfortunately, Tatum was not a fan of her birthday cake. She is seriously such a happy little baby that I think this was the first time I had ever seen her truly upset! Oh well. It still made for some absolutely precious shots.

Luckily, when we got Tatum cleaned up and away from her cake she got right back to her happy self.

fall themed baby photos with pumpkins

We were able to get glamor shots for her birthday both inside and outside. I just loved the way Tatum looked in her fall-colored dress here on the green, crisp fall grass.

Adoption Day For Tatum!

happy baby wearing a black and white checkered dress with red headband

I felt so blessed to be one of the people present for Tatum’s adoption day. Documenting it was so special and emotional. Her court appearance was continually delayed because of the pandemic, but that didn’t stop the family from making it happen.

collage of at home adoption hearing

Tatum’s grandparents, neighbors, and good friends showed up in person to welcome her officially into the family during her Zoom court date. During the ceremony there wasn’t a dry eye in the house (or on camera). Even the judge cried. It was clear that their family was more than ready to have Tatum as part of their family.

collage of family photos after adoption hearing

After the ceremony, the whole family gathered for pics on the front lawn. It’s very obvious from these photos that she brings out the love, kindness, and compassion in her whole family.

official adoption photos of a little girl

Baptisms & Texas Bluebonnets

baby wearing her baptism dress in the bluebonnets

Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love taking photos in the Texas Bluebonnets.

It can make any type of photoshoot that much more lovely, including Austin child photography. I know all the best places in Cedar Park to take Bluebonnet pictures during the season. Luckily, Tatum’s baptism happened during the Bluebonnet bloom, which led to these absolutely stunning photos.

collage of baby wearing her baptism dress in the bluebonnets

Tatum was happy as can be just to hang out in a patch of the Texas state flower.

collage of family photos at baby baptism

Tatum is always the star of the show (I mean, how can she not be?), but her baptism dress made her look especially angelic in these shots.

Tammy had Tatum’s baptism dress handmade for her. It seems fitting, after all. Tatum is the newest Howard to go to the Good Shepherd Lutheran church in Cedar Park, so this was an especially important event for her.

baby girl being baptized

Tatum even kept her cool during the fussiest part of the ceremony for kids — the baptism itself!


Working with the Howard family has, hands down, been one of the best experiences doing Austin child photography. Not only did I get to witness this beautiful event firsthand, but I became friends with Tammy and Keith.

This family truly poured their hearts into raising and accepting this little girl. It’s clear to me that the Howards needed Tatum as much as she needed her family, and it’s going to be a beautiful future for all of them.

officially adopted

Austin Child Photography

Do you have an adoption story you’d like me to document? I help families hold on to precious memories of their family by offering maternity photo sessions, newborn photos, milestone sessions, family portraits, and more.

Please reach out here to learn more about the photo services I offer for families of all sizes, ages, and backgrounds.

  1. Erica says:

    This is such a beautiful story and family!

    • Jen Rizy says:

      Thank you! I absolutely love all of them! We’ve built such a great relationship since our first meeting in 2019!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a comment

Let’s Make Magic Happen.

I’m so excited to help you with your maternity photo session, photographing your precious newborn’s first few months, or doing your yearly family photo shoot. Please fill out the information below with as much detail as you can. This will help me understand exactly what services you are looking for. 

I do both indoor and outdoor photography, and although my studio is located in Cedar Park, I can travel to Austin and the surrounding area, including Westlake, Lakeway, Lago Vista, Spanish Oaks, Bee Caves, Leander, Georgetown, Round Rock, and Crystal Falls.

As always, include any questions about photography session rates, locations, or details that I’ve failed to answer on my blog. Check out my FAQ if you have any urgent questions, but otherwise, I will be in touch.

Looking forward to meeting you (and your family) very soon! Stay safe, healthy, and happy.