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  • Hello!!

    Thanks for stopping by. As a wedding photographer I am surrounded by love in both my professional & personal life. The love I have for my family is what inspires me. I come to this special place to share my heart for adoption, family & photography.

    A few things about myself...
    ~I have 4 beautiful children. They all came into our family via adoption.
    ~I hit the husband lottery.
    ~I'm from North Dakota. No that's not the state with the president's faces.
    ~I love the Lord.
    ~Someday I will learn how to garden.
    ~I drive a minivan...yes, I am that cool.
    ~I absolutely love being a wedding photographer and cry at almost every wedding I shoot.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    ~Brittany J.

Jordan

It’s beautiful to witness so many of my past couples becoming parents for the first time! Janel & Jeffrey were married just over a year ago and they recently welcomed Jordan into their family.  They don’t come much sweeter than this little guy!

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Glenda - November 21, 2014 - 3:35 pm

Your amazing work never fails!!!

Adding another…

It wasn’t even two months after Bek came home when we learned of his friend in Ethiopia who was also in need of a family.  Bek and this other little boy had been on the same “waiting children’s list”.  They even grew up in the same rural village together and were childhood friends.  Bek immediately started telling us in his very broken English that we should adopt him too.  He kept saying how he could share his room and toys with him and that this other boy was a really “good boy”.  The twist to the story is I had actually seen this friend’s picture the same day I saw Bek’s for the first time.  I overlooked it, just typing that fills me with shame but it’s true.  I saw that he had health concerns and a major hearing disability.  Surely God wouldn’t call us to that, especially with all that was on our plate already.   Again, we were brought to our knees praying for this precious child who needed a family.  More importantly at the time, he needed to get to the United States to receive medical care for his failing health.  I reached out to friends and family members asking them to consider adopting this child.  I would text them pictures and began advocating for this little boy across the world.  One of my friends said to me “do you think your family is supposed to adopt him?” I immediately shot down that comment, we were just beginning to experience some behaviors and heavy grieving with our newest son. We couldn’t possibly handle adding another child to our family.

One thing I have learned through our adoptions is that God calls you to many things in life that you are definitely not prepared to handle, but equips you in His time.  Through praying for this child we once again realized we were supposed to be his family and just 6 months later our son, Shambel,  was home.  We were officially on the crazy train and people didn’t quite know what to do with us!  We were in our 20’s and raising an 11, 10 and 2 year old.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought our family would look like it does.  Sha, however has been the most incredible addition to our clan. His sweet, patient, calm demeanor has brought balance into our home.  He is one of the kindest, most considerate children I’ve ever met and being his mom is an honor and joy.

The last couple of years have been challenging in many ways; enrolling them in school for the first time ever, teaching them English, walking along side them in those dark shadows of grief and loss, the list goes on.  However, we wouldn’t change a thing.  We have grown through those challenges and have gotten to witness God’s ability to restore and redeem our precious son’s hearts.  The struggles have brought us closer together and I can truthfully say I am thankful for them.  The challenges John and I have faced during our transition are small in comparison to what both Bek & Sha have experienced in their lifetime.  Adoption is a beautiful thing but it comes at a cost. It’s because of loss, brokenness, poverty & death that we have been able to adopt our children.  We celebrate our children’s adoptions but we take time and make more of an effort to celebrate and remember their lives before they were in our family.  We talk about their first family often and pray for them every night.  When the boys start talking about life before moving to America everything stops in our home and we listen.  Allowing and encouraging them to share has been very healing for all of us.  I love the fact that my boys can remember so much about their past.  That’s definitely one of the amazing bonuses about adopting older children. Along with them knowing how to bathe themselves and set an alarm clock, of course!

When I think back to bringing Sha home 20 months ago I am blown away by how much he’s grown and changed.  While flying home with him from Ethiopia he wouldn’t talk to me or eat anything. Poor kid was totally freaked out and overwhelmed! It’s amazing to look across our dinner table and see him relishing in every meal (especially if it includes warm dinner rolls & steak) and laughing with the most contagious laugh I’ve ever heard.  He has been a delight to raise thus far and I know his future is as bright as his smile!

Below is the first picture we saw of our Sha. The next one was taken recently while in Seattle. This young man is going to do great things!

Shambel Photo 3

Shaweb

Bobbi Spargo - November 18, 2014 - 8:12 pm

What an amazing family! Thank you for sharing your story. The coolest part is that God isn’t done re-writing the story about this family. I can’t wait to see what is yet to come!

Jessica & Aaron: Sedona, AZ Wedding

Overlooking the stunning red rocks of Sedona, Jessica and Aaron were married. Their close friends and family flew in from out of town to help them celebrate. What a beautiful occasion it was! KD Event Designs did an incredible job with the planning and details like they always do. On a rare occasion I don’t meet my couples until their wedding day but having talked to Jessica on the phone I knew it was going to be an incredibly intimate & charming wedding.  Jessica & Aaron reside in Colorado but Sedona has a special place in their hearts. The Agave of Sedona was the perfect location to start the next chapter of their lives together!

J&A~ Thank you for allowing me to photograph your wedding day!  You two are an incredible couple. I was so blessed to have watched you become a family of 3!

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God had different plans.

Cruz’s adoption would ignite an even deeper passion to adopt again.  When he was fifteen months old, we started another adoption journey, this time from Ethiopia.  We planned to adopt a child 0-2 years of age.  I’m laughing as I type that, God sure has a way of changing plans!  I say that because it was just weeks after starting that adoption when I saw a picture of a sweet boy, with a killer smile on our agency’s “ waiting children’s list”. My heart jumped. I felt like I was looking at my son but he was ten years old, and adopting him would not be an option. We were only approved to adopt a child up to five years of age.  I tried to avoid thinking about him because it would make my heart ache in a way I never knew.  I looked at his picture everyday until I finally knew I had to tell John about him.  I called John up to my office where I proceeded to show him the picture of the boy I couldn’t get out of my head.

He walked away from the computer as quick as he came saying, “He sure has a nice smile!” A nice smile?  That’s it?  In that moment he turned back around and said, “You don’t think we should adopt him, do you?” I immediately shot down that notion by saying everything I thought he was thinking.  He was too old.  It would be too hard.  We couldn’t change the birth order of our family.  A couple days later, I was still thinking about “that boy”. God was clearly not allowing me to forget.  I asked John to join me in praying for him that evening.  We held hands, bowed our heads and prayed for God to find this boy a family and to bless his future.  After we finished I looked at John, his eyes filled with tears.  My husband then said something I never expected.  He said, “He is our son, we are supposed to be his family.” My heart skipped a beat, I couldn’t believe my ears!

We had to jump through a few hoops to get our agency on board and to allow us to adopt a child of his age.  After a few days we had the official approval, we were adopting Bekalu!  Three months after accepting “Bek’s” referral we were in Ethiopia meeting him.  That trip would impact me in ways I never dreamt of.  We fell in love with our son and his country.  Ethiopia was breathtaking, and the culture rich in love and tradition.  Bek came home three months after that trip.

The next few months were a whirlwind as we all adjusted to our new normal. I can’t say it was easy as there was heavy grief, a major language barrier, frustrating moments for everyone, and many nights I fell into bed emotionally and physically exhausted. When you adopt a child you can’t expect everything to fit effortlessly. It takes time and work; hard work.  Showing love is intentional when your child is hurting and acting defiant as a means of coping.  There is not a doubt in my mind that God brought us together for a purpose. We have all grown in our faith over the past 2 years. I expected Bek would change a lot after bringing him home but what I wasn’t expecting was the change that would happen within my own heart. Bek joining our family brought some of my insecurities and areas struggle to the surface. Throughout my life I always wanted things to appear perfect to others. I would hide behind a smile and stuff my feelings until it would consume me. I cared so much about what other’s thought about me and my family.  It was sometime between me chasing our grieving son down the street as he was running away again, and having our neighbors overhear the screams of our heart broken child who badly missed his birth country that I stopped caring about what others thought. We lost friends but gained others.  I craved authentic relationships and realized in order to have them I needed to be open to letting others in. I needed to let go of having the perfect family and perfect life. Through that process I realized what God had in store for us was something better, something more meaningful and beautiful.

Adopting an older child has been an incredible blessing. One thing I always tell Bek is that we not only adopted him but that he adopted us too. Family is about love, not genetics. Adoption is about grace, not perfection.

The image below is the first picture we saw of Bek. The 2nd was taken a couple weeks ago during our time in Seattle. Talk about a transformation! What is even more amazing is what is happening in his heart.  Love this boy of ours!

Bekalu Photo 4 copyBekWeb

Samantha - November 9, 2014 - 9:50 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I’m so moved by your family story, that I found somehow on Instagram. I don’t usually comment on strangers’ blog posts, but my heart is so overwhelmed. I hope that in a few years, this testimony of adoption can be my testimony too.

Glenda - November 11, 2014 - 9:12 am

He’s so handsome. The spark in his eyes and that smile!

Never the same…

We walked into her room. I could feel the intensity of that moment upon entering and looking into her eyes. She had given birth the day before. Exhausted & obviously heartbroken, her eyes bloodshot from sobbing. A baby boy lie peacefully in his bassinet across the sterile hospital room.  My eyes darted to him and then back to her. I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her everything was going to be alright. I wanted to reassure her of the decision she was about to make. I wanted to soothe her & take away her sadness. Instead I nervously fumbled with words to break the ice. I sat on the edge of her bed and put my hand on her ankle. As awkward as it was I needed to touch her. I needed to show her we were united. We were united forever now that she has asked us to parent her baby boy.  She allowed me to care for him the entire time we were there. These were such precious first moments. Little did we know at the time that we would lose that baby boy after taking him home from the hospital. Those first 24 hours of caring for him will never leave my mind. The following day we received the news that she was going to try to parent him instead of sticking with our “adoption plan”. I will never forget that feeling of reading that text message. Numb & sick to my stomach I ran into our room and sobbed into my pillow. I pleaded with God to change her mind. I screamed at Him for bringing this child into our lives only to take him away. My heart had never felt such pain, such deep intense pain. This was the type of pain that makes you feel physically ill. I sat in bed and rocked, sobbed, screamed, and eventually was brought to my knees. I pleaded with God one last time before we had to put this beautiful baby boy in his carseat and take him back to the caseworker. Don’t let this happen God! How is this better for him? The drive to drop him off felt like an eternity, but yet not long enough. In a parking lot we handed the baby we thought was our son to a young, very pregnant caseworker who carefully put him in her car and drove off. He was gone. I was not a mom, and my heart was in a million pieces.

We decided to leave for a last minute trip to California to escape our reality. Our home was filled with baby gear; his baby gear. The things we were gifted & bought specifically for him. The baby we saw in the ultrasound pictures and felt kick inside his birth mother’s stomach for 2 long months. We had to leave.  The weekend was healing and we came home just a few days later still feeling sadness and loss, but also hope. Hope for our future and trusting in God’s plan. We started to move on with our life, but not a day would go by that we wouldn’t think about that baby boy. I sent a letter with him in his car seat. It was for his birth mother to read.  It told her how I trusted she was doing what she felt was best & that I will never forget them, nor forget to pray for them. I wished her the best and at the end of the letter told her that I loved her & her son dearly. I thanked her for allowing us to parent him, if only for one day. Those words were hard to write but even in all my hurt & resentment I knew that was the truth in my heart. She needed to know we weren’t mad at her and that we supported her decision.  She needed to know most importantly that we loved her.

Four weeks later we received a call from her, asking us if we would still consider adopting her son. She attempted to parent him but still felt he would be better off with us. We were shocked. Beyond shocked actually! The next day we were at the adoption agency signing papers. What I saw was a strong woman who was heart-broken by the decision she was making.  Even though she felt it was best for her son she was devastated it had come to this. The day we became parents was also the day a mother said goodbye to her son. Our hearts felt joy but deep pain as well. Words cannot express what we felt that day.  It such a mixture of emotions. After she signed the papers I embraced her for several minutes. Both of us weeping.  She left and we were there with our son. OUR son. Before leaving the agency I got to change my first poopy diaper which was totally fine with me!

The reason I wanted to share Cruz’s adoption story with you is in celebration of National Adoption Month & Orphan Sunday. Cruz made us parents for the first time and his adoption (even with all it’s ups & downs) is what confirmed our calling to adopt.  This would influence our future adoptions, and family dynamic forever. This month I will be sharing each of our children’s adoption stories. Some details will be left out to protect their privacy and personal story but it will give you an idea of what God has done in our lives through blessing us with our children.

You can read our original blog post regarding losing Cruz & the story to follow here. This will now be where we share adoption news etc.:)

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Dawn Wright - November 2, 2014 - 6:37 pm

I love your heart and your honesty. The heartache is real and the feelings for the birth family equally real! Thank you for sharing!!

Lisa Workman - November 3, 2014 - 12:06 pm

This is a beautiful story…I’m weeping with you both. Both your’s and John’s strength and love is inspiring! May God’s love and Grace shine on your family.

Hugs!
Lisa

Beverly & Ivan Gish - November 3, 2014 - 5:57 pm

We have watched your family grow (via: Jack & Marion) and enjoyed hearing of the joy each son has brought into your life and the extended family. We can visualize John with his little team and, via photographs, visualize you and those sweet boys & the wonderful family you all make. Thank you for sharing the joys and sorrows. It’s so good to know that God didn’t promise that everything would be easy, but promised that He had a plan. What a joy to know that what He plans and delivers is beyond our wildest dreams. Those little boys are truly gifts from God.

Shannon - November 9, 2014 - 10:07 pm

Brittany,
I followed your adoption of Cruz through your blog years ago. John’s words and your words flowed into my heart and I found myself praying for you all through out my day. I remember how I actually shed tears when I saw that you were blessed to get Cruz back. I follow your beautiful family through your photos ever since. I am so amazed at the woman God made in you, and at your awesome willingness to follow Him in all you do. In sharing your stories and simply being who you are every day, peoples lives are changed. Thank you for representing Jesus so well, so often, while we all know that it’s no always easy. I’m so glad our paths crossed years ago. Many prayers continue for your family from Minnesota!
Xo,
Shannon

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