15 years

I’ve noticed that God seems to bring similar stories of life into my path of C A P T U R I N G their beauty.   Uncannily, within 2 weeks, three separate men sent me inquiries about purchasing sessions to surprise their wife for an anniversary gift.  My curiosity was piqued.   Could it be that men are realizing the value of lifestyle portraiture that records their family in meaningful ways? 

I’ve always joked that if it were up to the men in our families to document our families in photos, there’d be an average of 10 photos for each family (and 5 of those would be of cars!)  Well, no longer!  C A P T U R E D dads are stepping up to the plate to orchestrate portrait sessions for their brides! 

Jason wanted a portrait session that would C A P T U R E his family, but also have a heavy emphasis on he and Annette as a couple.  While they love their role as parents and waited 12 years to start that role, they don’t want to lose sight of the couple they were before children arrived.  

Jason wanted photos that would create art of their love and make Annette feel cherished and loved….Wow, talk about honoring your wife!  I was so excited to partner with him to make this happen for his bride!  He would even bring along a babysitter to keep track of his children while I focused on he and Annette. 

Jason and Annette walked a long road to create the beauty you see in these images.  They wanted to share their story to help encourage other families walking through their own infertility struggle. 

Jason and Annette have always been planners.   When they got married their plan had four steps—-1)  get married, 2)  Jason leave the Navy so he could be there for their kids,  3) buy a big 4 door for their family, and  4) buy a house to fill with kids. 

After 6 years of trying to have children, to no avail, the Collins left TX to take a job in Baltimore.  This job would enable Annette to stay home with the family they were still anticipating.

As the years drug on without children, Annette felt herself slipping into despair.  When couples struggle with infertility, it’s a vicious cycle of hope and despair every month.  For Annette, like so many women, despair began to accumulate and hope became more elusive. 

Friends and family knew their pain and it became,  

“Oh, the poor Collins…”   This was not the vision they had projected for their futures.   How do you plan for infertility?

Annette stopped attending church because the despair engulfed her and she could not be in any service without weeping.   She journaled through her valley,

“I had my arms crossed and wore and armor of discontentment with everything and everyone I saw.  I did not sing during the worship, but did listen.  I teared up some, but I tightened my armor of self-righteous anger and controlled myself. “

Jason encouraged Annette to come back to church.   They also decided it was time to start pursuing adoption seriously.  Annette decided she would return to church.  A woman who was leading the congregation in worship shared about how as a child viewed the Holy Spirit as her comforter, like a big blanket.  She shared that she saw God like a mother at a playground will tell her child,  ‘go play, I’ll be right here.’   God’s always there, encouraging His children to step out. 

This wrecked Annette.  She had spent a lot of time ranting at God about why she couldn’t have just the one thing she wanted so desperately.  The one thing she wanted was the very thing everyone else around her had in plenty.  Why not her? 

She began to sob.  Through her sobbing the voice of God spoke very clearly to her, “I’ll be right here.  When you are ready I’ll be right here.”  Annette felt broken before her God and she found Him right there in the midst of her pain. 

She made her way to the bathroom to try and compose herself.  As she exited she saw the only other person on the planet who she knew walked the same path as her.  This friend just held Annette.  She assured her that her grief was normal and not something she could run away from. 

The friend shared a perspective that helped Annette tremendously.  She had walked the same path of holding out hope to no avail.  She likened it a death, mourning a child who would never be.

The friend wrapped her arms around Annette and it was as though God has sent His Holy Comforter within His Body of Christ to be with Annette.   “God of all healing counsel!  He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us,”  2 Corinthians 1:4.

Annette’s perspective changed that day.  She started living and engaging life again.  The whole reason she wanted children was because she loved kids, so she began to volunteer in the children’s ministry of her church.   

She and Jason got on the wait list for adoption and were there for another cycle of hope and despair for 18 months.  But then, at last, they received a call about a 6-week-old little girl who needed a home.  This little girl, Eliana would come to their home the following day.  This was on June 12th and while they celebrated, there was a constant cloud hanging over their heads while they waited for the adoption to be finalized.   Almost a year later, on April 23rd they stopped living in fear that the sheriff would knock on the door to take Eliana back.  Their adoption was completed in the court house and they celebrated!   

Annette was like a woman in love, she gave her whole heart to being a mother as evidenced in these images!  Lincoln would come into their family two years later via adoption channels also.  He is a fun little guy full of spunk who loves wrestling and snuggling with his Daddy! 

Jason and Annette are head over heels about each other and their precious little ones.  Eliana and Lincoln will keep Mom and Dad young as they race through this life!  The love is just abounding in this family and what a joy to be a part of their celebrating God’s goodness! 

  1. erin allport says:

    Jennifer and Annette (and Jason),
    These are stunning! Beautiful photos of a beautiful family! You guys know how much I love you and your precious babies! 🙂

  2. Jennifer DiDio says:

    thnx Erin! i'm sure you have a soft spot for this sweet family & their adoption story is something you will soon share in common!!!! 😉

  3. Marika says:

    Beauiful pictures and a Beatiful family. I loved reading the story behind the photos.

    God Bless!

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