Harley Comes Home! An Adoption Journey Through Photos

Come take a stroll through Harley's adoption story.

Kenna Shumway July 08, 2014
Adoption Journey

Adoption–A photographic journey.

Adoption is never easy. After a road filled with pot holes and breakdowns, my husband and I were blessed with a son. His birth mother, Sadie, placed Harley into our arms when he was 14 months old. We never would have thought we’d adopt an older child, but from the moment we saw Harley, we knew it was right. Every child’s adoption story is different, but all are beautiful. Enjoy a photographic look into Harley’s adoption story.


Harley was born October 1, 2009 at 26 weeks' gestation and weighing a mere 2 pounds 4 ounces. His birth mother, Sadie, took amazing care of him as he grew strong in the NICU. After almost three months in the NICU, Sadie was able to take her healthy baby boy home.


Around Harley's first birthday, Sadie made the brave decision to place him for adoption. She searched through families and came across our profile. Sadie told us that she knew as soon as she saw our photo that Harely was meant to be our son. This is one of the first photos we ever saw of this sweet little nugget, and it remains our favorite photo to this day.


After emails, texts, and meetings, we were able to board a plane to Texas for Harley's transition and placement. Leaving Utah for Texas was nerve-racking, but our hearts were in the clouds as we were finally becoming parents. I stared out the window the entire flight, thinking about how I would soon be rocking my son to sleep.


The night we landed in Texas, we drove to Sadie's house, and Josh was able to feed and snuggle Harley to sleep. It was such a beautiful moment to watch. Harley and Josh had an instant connection that is apparent to this day.


During Harley's transition to our care, we did a lot of fun things! We took Sadie and Harley to the San Antonio Zoo. It was the middle of December and almost 80 degrees! It was such a great experience to bond with Sadie and Harley and to see how much Sadie cared for her little boy. We felt so humbled that she chose us.


Harley had a great time at the zoo too! He was all smiles as we looked at elephants, tigers, and his favorite, all the aquatic life.


I snapped this photo as we drove away from our placement meeting. It was such a sacred experience. Sadie was calm and strongly signed her name on the relinquishment form. She knew she was giving Harley the life that she wanted him to have. The love Josh and I have for Sadie cannot be measured. As we drove to Josh's cousin's house, where we were staying during the two-week transition, I bawled. I kept whispering, "I am a mom. I have a son."


Before we left Texas, a photographer and a good friend of mine took our first family photos We asked Sadie if she would like to come along and she humored us! This is the photo that we keep in Harley's room. He knows how much Sadie loves him.


Our first family photo! I still can't believe how tiny our Harley nugget was! This was the first time in a long time that I felt complete.


After two weeks in Texas, on December 16, 2010 we made the journey home to Utah. Harley was an amazing flyer and didn't fuss one bit on the plane! I can still remember the content feeling I had as he slept in my arms as we flew home.


This may be the most unflattering photo of me, but it was the first photo snapped as we came out of the airport terminal. My mom was waiting for us as we hauled six bags, two strollers, and one beautiful baby out to her car. It was such a beautiful experience as Harley met his new family. Not a dry eye in the house!


We didn't have a crib for Harley when we got back to Utah, so we set up a pack-and-play at the foot of our bed. As I made up his bed, I felt like it was all a dream. The joy Josh and I felt came out of our ears and eyeballs! Harley must have felt the joy too, because he was all smiles that night.


On June 14, 2011 we took Harley to the Utah County Courthouse to finalize his adoption. Yet another amazing experience! Our judge was so kind and said some of the most humbling compliments I've ever received. She told us as she read through our case, she couldn't believe all we had been through and that she was full of happiness for us. Our lawyer was our past bishop, and he remains such a support and rock for us. It was such a happy day!


On June 29, 2011, Harley was sealed to us in the LDS Mount Timpanogos Temple. It marked the end of an amazing adoption journey, and the beginning of an amazing life with our little Harley nugget. All the pain and sorrow was worth it--infinitely worth it.

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Kenna Shumway

Wife. Adoptive mom. Writer. Photographer. Endometriosis survivor, infertility warrior & adoption advocate. Rock star on weekends. Currently calls Ohio home with her pharmacist husband and their ginger son. Read more from her on her blog.

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