Hey everyone! Reina here, and I wanted to introduce one of our testers, Joy. I am hoping to start a blog series introducing each one of our testers to you guys, because honestly, these people are what makes us awesome. SO awesome! And Joy is our first introduction :) She is the owner and photographer of Joy of Life Photography and she is INSANELY talented, and I am a HUGE believer that what lies behind a photographer's talent is their vision, their story. So here is Joy's story. Its a tear-jerker, so get your tissues ready!

edited with Simply Artiste

I’ve gotten used to the stares in the grocery store, the whispering and pointing, the questions… “Are any of them twins?”  “Are all those babies yours?”  And when people find out our story the casual remarks, “You’re such an amazing person to do this”  “They are so lucky to have you!”  But I know the truth.  They’re not the lucky ones, I am.  They are the miracle that I was beginning to think would never happen.  Two years ago I had truly begun to believe that the precious babies that I worked with as a newborn photographer, the babies that felt like “mine” as I photographed them growing up, would be the only babies I’d ever have in my life. 

edited with Hurricane from Simply Matte

We’d been on a long and painful journey trying to adopt.  We’d experienced one heartbreak and disappointment after another.  After a heartbreaking experience with foster-to adopt in the US and a move to Canada, we decided to try fostering one more time, but just to foster this time, no expectation of adoption, we would work with an agency for that. We never expected what happened next!

edited with Buttered Toast from Simply Silky, and Hurricane from Simply Matte

In August of 2012, with just two hours notice, we got our first foster placement, a beautiful, two day old baby girl.  The goal of foster care is always to reunite the children with their families, and we wanted to be effective members of that team, we did not want to be weighed down by the internal conflict brought on by knowing we should want this baby to be reunited with her family while at the same time desperately wanting her to stay, yet it was love at first sight.  As a photographer, part of the way I dealt with this was to throw myself into creating images of this child, images I could share with her parents, images that would bring them into the moments they were missing, because while I knew their choices had brought them to where they were, I also knew beyond a doubt that they loved this little girl and my heart broke for them.

edited with Blackbird from Simply Noir

Only 5 months after our little girl joined us, we got a second placement, a five day-old little boy.   We saw his parents on a regular basis at his weekly visits and through his case I learned what a bridge photography can be.  Relationships between foster parents and birth parents can be strained, for obvious reasons, yet as I created beautiful images for them I saw the tension relax in the mutual understanding that we all saw the beauty in this child, and in their knowledge that I cared enough about him and them to document the moments of his life.

And guess what?  They stayed...both of them!  It was totally unexpected.  Our case-workers couldn’t believe it.  To have two newborns in a row placed with us for foster care was unusual enough, to have them both become adoptable was unheard of!  It seemed like an unimaginable miracle to me, but it would get bigger still.

edited with Vintage Rose from Simply Bebe

There are rules mandating no more than two children under two in a foster home, so we knew, or thought we knew, that we wouldn’t be taking any more placements for quite some time.   Imagine our surprise when we learned that our little boy now had a baby sister…and our total amazement when we learned that in order to keep the two of them together an exception would be made to allow us to adopt her.  We knew it would be insane, we already had a 17 month old and a 12 month old, but we were thrilled!  We bought a house, we sold our VW and bought a mini-van, and by the time all the clearances came through we were ready.  When she was 4 months old she joined our family.  That was 5 months ago and I still can’t believe it most days.   Adoption papers have been signed and they are all really OURS.  

edited with Vibrant from Simply Bold

And that is how my life of photographing other people’s babies has turned into my life surrounded by my own babies.    It is a beautiful and exhausting and chaotic life and all too often I realize that I am so busy taking pictures of other people’s babies that I’m not photographing my own, and yet I know I want to document this miracle, so I’m starting to find that balance. 

edited with Cider from Simply Autumn, Soft Matte from Simply Bebe

I couldn’t be more thrilled that Reina asked me to share some of the images I’ve made of my children with you, especially because this is national adoption month.  As you look at them I hope you’ll consider the following: There are close to 78,000 children in foster care in Canada alone, over 20,000 of whom are just waiting to be adopted.  In the US the numbers are much higher than that. And maybe you’re thinking, “I’d love to, but I can’t afford adoption.”  Well did you know that there are no financial costs to adopt a child through foster care?  And yes, there are many ways to adopt, and I am a supporter of adoption in general, but as you look at my pictures I hope you really stop and think…

....there are over 20,000 children right now, as you’re reading this….just waiting…

edited with Ladybug and Buttered Toast from from Simply Silky

Joy recently posted this on Facebook and it made me laugh so much, so enjoy this awesome list:

You Might be the Mother of 3 Kids Under 2 if:

1.) You have ever wiped up one child's spit up with another child's sleeper.
2.) You decide which stores to shop in based on the size of their carts (double decker cart with seats for two children, where you can put a carseat in the upper decker basket are a must to accommodate children while still having room for groceries)
3.) You have ever told a one year old, "The baby is crying, go see what's wrong."
4.) You have ever told an 8 month old, "The baby is crying, go see what's wrong."
5.) You feed your children peanut butter sandwiches for 3 meals in one day because it seems like too much work to go to the store.
6.) You have ever filled an entire cart and spent 200 dollars just to buy diapers and formula for 2 weeks.
7.) You think you smell poo everywhere you go, even on the rare occasion when there actually isn't any.
8.) You have ever had to pee while driving somewhere and realized that you are just going to have to hold it because the idea of getting three babies into a gas station bathroom by yourself is not only inadvisable but basically impossible.
9.) You have ever handed one of your children to a random stranger to hold because you just don't have any other choice.
10.) You have ever asked a random stranger to watch your children in McDonalds just so you can go to the bathroom.
11.) You find yourself reminiscing about how easy it was to have 2 babies under 6 months.
12.) You have ever switched your lactose intolerant baby's formula with your non-lactose intolerant baby's formula in a 2AM haze.
13.) You have ever dumped the formula powder into the bottle without putting the bottom of the bottle on first.
14.) You have learned to identify which child needs a diaper change by the individual scent.
15.) Going to the park means choosing between saving the child running in front of the swings and saving the child about to fall from the climbing apparatus, either of which action requires you to leave the baby alone in the stroller to be kidnapped.
16.) Every time you go out in public people stare, point, whisper, and eventually ask, "Are those ALL your children?!"
17.) You have ever walked into a room to find 2 one year olds using the baby as a step stool to get onto the couch.
18.) You routinely find yourself saying totally bizarre things like, "Stop licking the vacuum cleaner!"
19.) You can't park the car in the garage because it is currently housing a single stroller from when you had just one baby, a double stroller from when you had 2 babies, and a triple stroller, all of which are still in regular use depending on the situation.
20.) You've ever given up on trying to wipe the table clean and just taken a Shop Vac to it instead.
21.) You laugh more everyday than you ever thought possible...at least when you're not hiding in a closet somewhere trying to drown out all the screaming!


Thank you Joy for telling us your beautiful story!! Your children ARE lucky to have you, just as you are lucky to have them!


all actions are for Photoshop CS5,6 and CC and can be found to purchase on the Simply Actions website www.simplyactions.com

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  1. Aldona

    What a beautiful story. Im really happy for you and your family.

  2. Kathryn

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. The world works in mysterious ways. Truly inspirational and heart warming :)

  3. Genevieve

    Thank you for sharing your story Joy. You are truly a blessed woman, mother, wife and photographer. Looking forward to seeing your work and children grow.

  4. Nicole

    Awe, Joy! I’m so happy for you! What a wonderful and touching story! I especially loved the “you might be a mother of…” list at the end."! Too funny! :)

  5. Devin

    What a great story <3

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