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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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”.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Baptisms & Texas 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.
Tatum was happy as can be just to hang out in a patch of the Texas state flower.
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.
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.
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.