National Zoo Family Session- Gabriel's 1st Birthday

Warning… You may cry… sob… and leave this blog with a heart so warm with love !



I want to tell you a story about two very special people… Teresa and Erik. I met Teresa and Erik when I photographed their wedding 6 years ago. It was a wedding that I will truly never forget. 

The day before their wedding Virginia, DC, and Maryland has a freak storm called a derecho. In the matter of 30 minutes this insane weather mass came through and knocked down trees and power lines. In the dead heat of the summer people lost their power and air conditioning. That included a lot of wedding venues. On the day of their wedding I get a call early in the morning from Teresa that their wedding reception venue lost its power and couldn’t hold their wedding anymore. They had 6 hours to find a new venue  before it was time to get ready for the ceremony. 

Can you imagine going from having everything perfectly planned for your wedding 1 year in advance to having to figure out everything all over again in just a few short hours. With the help of friends, family, and other vendors they were able to find a restaurant with power that could hold a wedding for 150+ people. Everything turned out so beautifully! 



I know you are asking yourself… what does that have to do with a 1 year birthday shoot? Well, now I want you to meet Gabriel. Like so many woman (myself included) Teresa and Erik spent a lot of money and time trying to have a child. After years of trying they decided that it was time to try adopting locally. 

Adopting locally and internationally is not easy. It’s expensive and can take a long time. Teresa and Erik were coming up on a year and the next step on the list was a home visit. While they were getting the visit done the woman there got a phone call. That one phone call on an unexpected day changed their life. 

A woman was going into labor at a hospital in Maryland… If they wanted the baby it was theirs. In a blink of an eye Teresa and Erik were going to be parents. 

Of course they said yes and ran out to start preparing for the arrival of their son. Now remember how I said they planned a wedding in 6 hours… They were going to have less then 24 hours to prepare to be parents. There was no nine months to prepare. No baby shower to start getting the diaper collection. No time to research 80 different strollers or car carriers. The next day they would meet their son. They also both had to contact their jobs and start maternity leave right away. 

As soon as Gabriel was put into their arms their world changed. This little boy was theirs.  After years of trying to have a baby…. His little hands holding theirs… the little nose… the little toes… the most perfect baby ever. Teresa and Erik joked that there was no way that they could have ever made a baby as beautiful as Gabriel . (I disagree !) .

Now the most stressful part of adopting a baby begins. First, no one could know about the adoption until it became legal. The birth parents of the baby have six weeks ( I may be a little off on this) in which they can change their mind. If they change their mind then Gabriel would go back to his birth parents no questions asked. Teresa and Erik would be considered foster parents until all the paperwork went through and the adoption was official. 

So the waiting game begins… 

Gabriel was born in Maryland and they live in Virginia. Because of Maryland Adoption laws they could not leave the state for 2 weeks. So right from the hospital Teresa and Erik went to a Extended Stay hotel. For those of you who are parents you probably remember how hard it was to adjust to being a parent. Well, imagine doing this in a hotel for 2 weeks and then as you finally adjust to a lifestyle and pattern with your newborn in the hotel… You move home and have to start all over again. 


The days seemed long. Every day they worried that at any moment Gabriel could be taken away from them. Finally 6 months after Gabriel came into their lives…the paperwork came in. They could officially adopt him! Gabriel was officially their son! 

So on Gabriel’s official birthday I met up with Teresa and Erik and at the National Zoo to capture some one year portraits. We had so much fun… Although it was hard to keep his attention as he was flirting with all the ladies and little girls that came by. 

This little boy has the most infectious smile and boy does he love cake! I was so happy to see Teresa and Erik again and to meet little Gabriel!

We actually were watching as Gabriel started to get a sugar high from the delicious cake! He really was loving every minute of it! 

Oh no... where's my cake...