I was perusing stories that were trending a few weeks ago, and I came across one that I fell in love with. It was a story about photos an adoptive mom posted on her Facebook page of her 13-year-old son. The photos are not your typical candid photos of a 13-year-old running, playing sports, or making funny faces for the camera. These photos were an actual newborn photo-shoot of 13 year old Latrell Higgins.
Kelli Higgins and her husband live in Crestview, Florida and felt a pull to adopt older children, who often have a tough time getting adopted. Two years ago, the Higgins family adopted Latrell and his 8-year-old sister, Chanya. The Higgins already had a full house, with five small kids and one on the way. They understood the facts of foster care, though, and they understood that older children have a higher incidence of ending up aging out of the foster care system. After they are out of foster care, they are on their own—to learn to survive and live successfully in this big, strange, and, at times, scary world. It is scary enough to be out on your own even when you have a family to go back to for holidays, birthdays, and when you need to feel unconditional love firsthand. To not have that family to return to. . . I can’t even imagine.
Latrell was sitting at the dinner table with his family, and his mom mentioned how she had a photo shoot with a family and their newborn baby in the next coming days. Latrell chimed in and voiced how he wished he had baby photos of himself. He had been in foster care for years, and was never given baby photos of himself to keep. He never stated whether any were ever taken of him. An idea came to his 12-year-old sister, who turned to their mom and asked if she could do a “newborn” shoot of Latrell. Latrell and his mother were excited about this idea. Kelli Higgins felt that the photo shoot was a terrific way to show the public that older foster children are just, “Big babies needing a mother’s love.”
This photo shoot had a positive outcome for Latrell as well. Latrell’s mom empathized with Latrell’s wish that he had baby photos. The idea was unique and put a smile on everyone’s face, including Latrell’s. I know I was in a foster home for one month after birth, and my foster mom took photos of me at 1 week through 4 weeks. I always assumed, ignorantly, I suppose, that foster families took photos for the adoptive families. Through reading articles on foster families over time, I have come to know that not all foster families care for a child the way my foster family did. Not all foster families take photos for the future adoptive parents to have as keepsakes. My adoptive family and I were lucky to have these photos given to us. By having these photos, I was able to put them side by side with my boys’ newborn photos, and compare and contrast. In Latrell’s case, if he has children one day, he won’t be able to compare his newborn photos to his children’s, but he will be able to compare their teenage photos with hi. (minus the baby poses and attire).