Fall Family Session
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Even though it’s only the middle of summer, now is the time to start thinking about your fall photo session. With the fall weather, here in Lancaster Pa, we start to loose our evening light. I like to photograph session 2-3 hours before sunset. This is something to consider when booking because of work hours, you might have to leave work early to get to a session on time.

This year, instead of just a traditional Christmas card portrait session, why not consider a lifestyle session! These session not only give you beautiful images but also a fun memory. The idea of lifestyle is to capture you as a family engaged in laughing and enjoying one another. To learn more, click here.

During your session I give you prompts and suggestions to get photos full of engagement and natural smiles! I would love to meet you and your family. Contact me today to talk about booking your session. You won’t regret the money you spend to capture these moments with your family!


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In home Newborn and Family Photo Session
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There is just something so whimsical about little girls twirling. These little beauties started their brother’s newborn session off with some fun dancing in the living room while their mom finished getting ready. This is what I love about coming into people’s homes and doing lifestyle sessions. The kids are so relaxed because this is normal territory for them.

After some fun twirling photos and meeting their sweet baby brother, we headed back to the master bedroom to get some family photos on the bed. The bed is a great spot for in home family photos because it’s a soft place for kids to land. {Literally} If they are flopping around or if they “drop” baby, it doesn’t usually matter because that landing is soft. Also master bedrooms usually have great light! This room was no exception.

I was so honored to photograph Rachel from Rachel Kline Marketing and Creative , based here in Lancaster, Pa. She is a gem of a person. If you are looking for website updates and marketing help, she’s your girl! She does social media, blogging & copy write, web design, graphic design, & SEO. Click here to read more. Or if you are a mom and want something of interest to listen to while you work or play, she co-hosts a great podcast called The Thrive Podcast. Plus she’s a mom to three adorable kids, she understand “mom life”!

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Kyle and Rachel were naturals. They reigned the girls in for photos and then when the girls had enough Kyle went out to the living room to chill with the girls while Rachel and I stayed put in the beautiful light to get the “mommy and me”, as well as the solo baby photos. This usually works well because it gives the ones who don’t enjoy getting photos a little “down time” before we pull them in again.

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And no newborn session is complete without getting some one on one photos with dad! I love it when dads are involved and “show up” for their photo session with good and cheerful attitudes! It completely changes the vibes of the session. If dad is grouchy about photos it adds stress to the mom and the kids feel the tension. Thanks Kyle, you were a champ!

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Photo sessions don’t have last for hours. And they don’t have to be painful! We find the light and then we gather the family together and go! We start with the snuggles and kisses and tickles. While the kids are distracted, that’s when I start snapping. Thank you Kyle & Rachel for inviting me into your home to capture these moments, you guys were so great!

{If you have kids, you might be interested in reading this: 5 Tips on talking to kids about appropriate touch}

5 tips on talking to kids about appropriate touch and other sex related things.

Sexual abuse happens, it is a real thing. Abuse happens at school, on the bus, at church, at a friend’s house, even in our own homes. So lets talk real, no beating around the bush. Do we live in a spirit of fear? If you have the Lord Jesus in your heart, NO! Renounce that spirit of fear in the name of Jesus. But we will not live with our heads buried in the sand and our fingers in a our ears saying “la la la la, I can’t hear you!” (Anyone else ever done this?! I have!) Rather we become aware of the reality of this issue and then we equip our kids with knowledge and a plan.

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5 Tips:

  1. Look for everyday teaching moments

  2. Read books

  3. Give them a plan

  4. Ask questions

  5. Don’t freak out



1. Look for everyday teaching moments.

Once when my son was about 3 years old, just fresh out of the potty training stage he came to me, delighted to tell me that he found a ball in his body while he was peeing. {this is the teachable moment} I remember being surprised but determined not to let this pass. So I took him to the bathroom and asked him to show me, sure enough he had found one of his testicles. So I told him what it was called and that God had created two of them in his body for a purpose, at 3 years old it was not necessary to get into their purpose, especially since he didn’t ask. It was enough for him to know that the “ball” he found was suppose to be there. I also went on to talk to him about not playing with the ball and that if he ever had a question about his body to talk to me about it. I told him that this part of his body is private, not dirty or bad, but special so we keep it covered. I also told him that since he only uncovers that part of his body in the bathroom, that the bathroom is the place to talk about that part of his body. Again not because it’s dirty but because it’s private, so we don’t talk about it to just anyone or any where. One challenge with telling young {talking} children about body parts is that in their innocence they have no filter, thus the reason we teach our little talkers to not talk about these body parts unless we are in the bathroom. Which reminds me of another very funny story. A different son, also fresh out of the potty training stage, having learned the name of his man parts, enjoyed saying the word. I quickly gave him the talk about not talking about private body parts unless we are in the bathroom. He promptly turned and went into the bathroom and at the top of his lungs very happily shouted “Penis” over and over again while he was peeing. Not sure if it was a mom fail or a success story, but either way he got the point, sort of! LOL

Finding everyday moments to talk to your kids about their sexuality creates a safe and well worn pathway between you and them on the topic of sex.
— Christi Stoner

2. Read books

I have made a conscious effort to find books to read to my kids about their sexuality and appropriate touch. I start reading these books to them before they can even talk in sentences. I want this to be their normal. That we talk about this stuff in safe ways. I want words like penis, vagina, breast, porn, appropriate touch, etc. to be part of their normal vocabulary just like arm, leg, fingers, etc. It is something that I have to make normal. It’s not natural for me to say the names of private body parts, I have to put on a straight face. But if I act like these parts are bad or dirty, what is that teaching my children? I make effort to speak these words as if it was “arm” or “leg” that I was saying. If they are not hearing it from us they will hear it from peers and you know the damage that learning this stuff from peers can cause, probably because, if you are like me, you learned about this stuff from your peers. Again, just because we talk about these words does not mean we fling them around carelessly. We believe that God created these body parts to be sacred not to be part of crude jokes. Reading about this stuff in books is a great way to expose kids to proper terms. Reading books helps educate our kids on what is normal and ok. If someone touches them and then tells them it’s okay and not to tell anyone, my kids know that it’s NOT ok. Why? Because we talk about it, we read books that show them a different story. Here are some of our favorites. First the Bible, it’s actually too graphic for my younger kids. But old testament is full of stories that are great teaching platforms, Rehab the prostitute, Samson and his poor choices of women, stories of rape and murder, King David and his lust and sin with Bathsheba…. these are all platforms that open up discussion. Ask your kids questions, their answers might surprise you. You also might find that they have the wrong answer and you get to be the one to educate them.

Some others that we own

The Story of Me” This is a great starter book. Talks all the proper body part names in a very appropriate way.

“ What makes a baby” is a favorite of mine because it talks about the egg and sperm without graphic drawings. Perfect for young viewers. It opens the door for really good conversations too.

I said No! A kid to kid guide for keeping private parts private Is really great for giving kids a plan. The book was written by a mom and her son who had a friend attempted to molest him at a sleepover. This is real stuff moms, educate yourself and your babes.

“Do you have a secret? Lets talk about it” A book that explains the difference between good secrets and bad secrets. After reading a book like this you say, “so what about you? Do you have any secret you want to tell me about?” You ask it straight, you don’t hint. Kids need to hear you ask it straight. You might be surprised at the things your little people have been told to keep a secret. My one son told me a sexual joke that was told to him, and he was told to keep it a secret. I thanked him for telling me. It was an opportunity to talk about the importance of not repeating a joke like that and also about the value of human life. I’m so glad he told me. He was only 6 years old and he heard the joke at church. Don’t bury your heads mom. Ask questions. Your little people need you to be strong and safe for them.

“Good pictures, Bad pictures Jr” this book is an easy read that discusses pornography as well as giving your children a plan of what to do if they see porn. Great read.

3. Give them a plan

This is pretty straight forward. We start this at 2 yrs old. We tell our babes, “no one ever touches you where your diaper is except mommy and daddy.” This sets them up for knowing what is okay and not okay touch. As they get a old enough to verbalize their thoughts, we tell them “If anyone ever touches you in your private areas come and tell mommy and daddy right away, even if someone tells you not to.” Now here is the really important part, if your child does come to you, you believe them. You take steps to make them feel heard and safe, you DO NOT brush it off. You DO NOT say, “oh so and so is such a nice kid or uncle or aunt, they would never do that.” Wrong answer, NO, you trust your child. And you watch their back. You don’t always have to act on it, but you do become mindful of it. More then once our boys have come to us and told us so and so touched their bottom. We always believe them and thank them for telling us. Then we asses the situation. Sometimes the conclusion is that it was an accident due to playing. But there have been times that we have told our boys that it was not appropriate touch and then I will go and talk to the child or mom of the child to bring awareness to the situation. Sometimes it’s lack of education on the other child’s part but at the end of the day, keeping my child safe is the goal. I don’t want accidental touches to become an open door to something more damaging. And I don’t want my kids to think that it’s okay for them to touch other children’s private areas just because it happened to them. Believe it or not, these situations almost always happen at church when a large group of kids are playing unsupervised. It didn’t take long for me to lay down the law that my boys must play where I can see them at all times when there is a large group of kids. After parties or get togethers we make it a habit to debrief their time that was spent with friends while the adults talked. Often times its only good remarks of all the fun they have had. But it has happened once or twice that questionable behavior happened and it was good to talk to them about it and what should have happened etc. All this is giving our children a voice, a plan, a vision of what is normal and what is appropriate. If you never tell them how will they know?

4. Ask Questions

When I was working as a nurse, more then once I took calls from patients who were suicidal. The one thing I was taught to ask was “do you have a plan”. This might seem like it’s encouraging them, but asking the question right out actually brings some relief to the suicidal person, they are being heard and feel cared for and it opens the door for them to talk through why they are thinking suicide. {As a side note, if someone ever tells you that they do have a plan of action, call 911 or your local crisis center.}

The same goes with our kids and sexual abuse. I have already outright asked my kids if anyone has ever touched them in their private parts. I also have asked them outright if they know what porn is and if they have ever seen or willingly looked at porn. Every time I have had to fight against fear and push ahead and ask these questions. And I’m so glad I did because every time, they have all been really great conversations. I have always tried to ask these questions when everyone is at a good place mentally and emotionally, not in the moment of concern.

When one of my sons was younger I asked him if he knew what porn was. He laughed at me! He said, “mommy! YES.” I was shocked. After a moment of silence I asked him to tell me what it was. Again he laughed at me in disbelief as he said, “mommy?! Corn?! everyone knows what corn is.” This is one of those parenting moments that you say “thank you Jesus!” (Whew) We then were able to talk about porn and I discovered that I was indeed the first person to ever talk to him about it. Again, whew! Moms and dads, you WANT to be the first person to tell your kids about this stuff. My son was in second grade at the time and the conversation came up because I was recently exposed to another 2nd grader who was being shown porn by a peer. If that was happening to your child would they come and tell you about it?

5. Don’t freak out

So you’ve read the books, you’ve asked the questions, you’ve taught them the terms and looked for teachable moments…what happens when they come and tell you that something HAS happened? This is the hard part, don’t freak out! Sometimes I struggle to keep a cool head when it comes to appropriate touch. Due to my story, I can get really upset. But if our kids are telling us then it opens the door for us to step in and offer hope and healing. We might need to do research or change some things, but if we keep talking to them and keep the door open, they will be ok in the end. But if I freak out will my kid want to come tell me again? No. Especially if my child is the one in the wrong. I want them to know there is forgiveness and there is hope and that I am their advocate.

6. Educate yourself and know your story.

So I said five but here is a bonus one for you. Educate yourself. Expose yourself to teachings about how to talk to kids about healthy sexuality and healthy touch. Examine your own life and your story. Are you at a healthy spot when you think about YOUR sexuality? A question to ask is “what was it like being a girl (or boy) in your family growing up? And “was it a good thing?” You can not lead a child to a place of healing that you have never been. Anyone who knows me may already know that I was molested as a child. My view of sexuality was really confused and unhealthy for most of my childhood and teen years. (Read more about that here) By God’s grace he brought healing in my adult years through good people, and counseling, and good books. And in the midst of it all I learned to know God at deep levels and that ultimately brought my healing and validation. But my story impacts the way I raise my children. And because of my story I know that I am extra alert, I realize now that sometimes I just need to breath and step away because the situation isn’t as bad as all my internal alarms are making it seem. (This is when it’s so helpful to have a spouse on board who can tell you when you are overreacting). But I want to give my kids the tools that I didn’t have. My story also teaches me that there is always hope. I will mess up. I will miss opportunities. I will not respond the right way. I will hurt my children. But if I can keep pointing them to Jesus Christ, HE, and He alone will make all things new in their lives. That is my ultimate hope.





Mommy and Me session in Lancaster City
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It was with great delight that I got to photograph Ruby and her two young children. A year ago I photographed her in one of my favorite newborn sessions, see it here! It was so fun to have her join me in Lancaster city at a photo studio, At Sovereign, for a mommy and me mini session. Our session was only 15 minutes but we got more then a few fun and endearing photos!

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Healing our sexuality

Some of you might already know that I have a history of being sexually abused as a child. I have shared my story more then once, so this is not news for those of you who know me personally. This shaped so much of my childhood and teen years in a negative way. But by God’s grace, He brought healing. Where there was death, he turned it into life. If you have been sexually abused I hope you are able to surround yourself with people who love God and want to see you heal. Healing only can come by the power of Jesus Christ. He used people, godly counselors, and books to facilitate my healing. And then, years later as I continued in the road of healing, in his love for me, he brought pain into my life. Sorrow was the catalyst that really threw me into his arms and I had to choose to either trust him more deeply or hate him. By God’s grace I chose to trust and in that trusting came even more life, despite what previously had felt like sorrow and death. God is crazy my friends! I don’t know how he does it. But he loves so big and wide that he allows even pain to become an avenue of his love for us. I am forever indebted to him for loving me.

So a quick post for you, full of links to good books worth reading! If you are struggling with shame from your past, or if you (or a daughter) is dealing with sexual sin, here are some books that I have read and are worth mentioning. Not only is it important for our own personal growth to deal with the stuff in our past (this doesn’t mean we sit around and blame other people for all our problems but we do acknowledge that things happened that should not have happened), we also need to deal with our past so that we are more equipped to help our children. If I am confused and insecure in my sexuality, how can I have open conversations with my children about their questions concerning their sexuality? I still don’t have all the answers but I am able to point them to the One who does because I know first hand how loving and gracious He is to those who seek Him.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:13

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Lancaster Pa: Trey's newborn session
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Welcome to the world, and your fun loving family, Trey! I had the privilege of meeting baby Trey right around six weeks of age. I drove to his home located in Lancaster, Pa, and had a blast snapping away as his family engaged one another and loved on Trey as well.

I love all the movement that these sweet girls brought into their baby brother's newborn session. Not only movement but so much silliness which produced lots of laugh. Their mom told me that their family is laid back and she was right. If she or her husband felt any stress over the girls antics, I didn't sense it. It is a gift to be able to laugh rather then get frustrated! I love how this session turned out, so beautiful and true to life. A life full of LIFE! ⠀⠀

In home sessions are so fun and personal. You get to choose if there is a favorite book, toy, pastime or even a pet that you want to include in the session. There is the phrase that says, “I feel at home”. What does that mean? Home is suppose to be a place of love and acceptance. A safe place that you can retreat to because the people there have your back, so to speak. I think one of the best parts of “in home” sessions is that your kids have an easier time relaxing because they not only “feel at home” , they ARE at home!

For in home sessions I advise a quick tidy before I come, especially if we do master bedroom photos with side tables. When I come I will find the best light and go from there. If needed, we will move things that are a distraction from the main purpose (the people) in the photos. Its all very chill and flexible. I come with a plan but we take our cues from the kids, because if they start crying or refuse to look at the camera, it’s not worth it to try and force a photo with them. We give them a break and then try again with them later. Since we are in their home, it’s easy for them to go grab a toy to play with or a security blanket, whatever it is that helps them calm, these things are easily accessible during an in home session.

Christi was amazing! She came to our house, was super accommodating to our personal requests and I love how relaxed and natural her photos are.
— Christine {mom}
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As always, I am so honored to have families open their door to me and welcome me into their home for these photo sessions. To see more sweet baby photos, click here.

Help a kid out, win a photo session. (Support Roadside Clean Up!)

Roadside Clean Up, Ephrata Pa

We have been a homeschooling family up until this year. Even with helpers, I was SO overloaded with trying to do school with the 2 big boys and care for the 4 little ones. We moved this summer and there happens to be a Christian school just down the road, Ephrata Mennonite School. The reason we homeschooled was so that we could incorporate God and His word into education. When we found out that our house was on the bus route, we signed the kids up. What a win for us! The school has been such a blessing to our family.

So here we are, fundraiser time, trying to raise money for “our” little Christian school. But it’s not just a fundraiser. The students are going to be doing community service, road side clean up! So we are asking that you partner with us and sponsor our two boys in this day of serving our community here in Ephrata, Pa.

The kids will be picking up trash in Ephrata, Clay, and Cocalico areas along the road, parks, and around local businesses as well. They will be working for about five hours. My boys are hoping to raise $600 dollars and they need YOUR help to do that. Would you be willing to sponsor them? Last year the students collected 335 bags of trash weighing approximately 3 tons while cleaning 70+ miles of roadway!

In effort to boost their amount of pledges, I offered to collaborate with them, in hopes of helping them meet their goal. I am donating a free photo session. {Details listed below} This one of the reasons I love being a business owner, I can donate my time for something like this. So for every $20 you donate (via paypal) you will receive a raffle ticket with your name on it. The more you donate the higher your chance of winning. I can not even begin to tell you how excited the boys would be if they met or even surpassed their goal!

Winner will be picked on Wed. April 3rd.

(If you would like to donate and NOT enter the photo shoot giveaway then your complete donation is tax deductible. I have a form I can mail to you for tax purposes.)

What you are entering to win:

  • $100 session fee plus $325 for the Full Session Package- FREE

    • 45 min session

    • 25 High Resolution Images

    • Online Gallery as well as a Flash drive of images

    • Gift card for a “free session fee” off next session

  • Must be used in 2019

  • Newborn or Family Session

    • Spring session

    • Summer blooms

    • Fall photos for Christmas cards

    • In-home Lifestyle anytime of the year!

  • You may “gift” this to someone else

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To be the hero of our boys and to enter the drawing, send your donation to roadsidecleanup2019@gmail.com to us through paypal. Then click the “donate” button below to send me an email letting me know your name and either your phone number or email (so I can contact you if you win) along with how much you donated so I know how many tickets to put in your name.

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Motherhood Mini Sessions at At Sovereign Studio, Lancaster Pa
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I am happy to announce that Motherhood Mini Sessions are ready for sign up!

The Details: Here is what you get!

  • 15 minute session

  • 15 high resolution digital files on a web gallery

  • {Pre-Session} Questionnaire so that I can customize your 15 min time slot

  • Mini session client guide, what to wear, what to expect, etc.

  • Swag bag with goodies and coupons

  • Snacks and Eats at the Studio

Cost: $140 plus 6% tax {total $148.40}
I am asking that session be paid in full before May 11th.

Location: At Sovereign Studio, Lancaster City.
{see photos below, taken at the studio}

First session starts at 9:20am. Last session is 12:20pm.

FAQ:

  • Session may be used for newborn or a family session as well

  • If you want more then 15 minutes you may purchase sessions back to back

  • Once I receive your email, we will nail down your session time slot

  • It takes 2 weeks to get your gallery emailed to you

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Shoot and Share Contest

With over 500,000 photos entered from around the world, I never imaged that one of mine would make it to the final round!

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The contest is free to enter and the voting is done by viewers. You are allowed to enter up to 50 photos. Everyday you vote on thousands of photos, you could honestly sit and vote on photos for hours. The contest displays four photos all from the same category and you choose your favorite one. Instantly four more pop up on the screen, it’s easy to get caught up in the voting process.

Each photo is given multiple times to be voted on. I never saw any of my photos, the photos are displayed by random. You aren’t able to look up who took them until the contest is over. The contest last a month and then another two and half weeks to get all the results in. What a fun event!

Our journey with infertility, fostercare, and adoption. Part 2 of 2

If you missed the first part of the story you can read it here.

So 2016 ALMOST ended on a quiet note. . . Backing up 2 weeks prior. After our weekend with Layla, and after talking to the relatives we felt that it was clear Layla was not coming back. It was going well they said. So we called the agency and told them that we’d be open to another placement if they needed us.

Christmas 2016 came and went. We enjoyed celebrating with our 3 boys. If you recall Christmas was on a Sunday that year. Tuesday I got a phone call. A 9 month old baby boy needed a home, would we take him? And thus, Joey entered our lives.

{Below: Cell phone photos of Joey’s first few week with us.}

Each child is so different. Biological children each have their own differences, let alone children with completely different genetics and family backgrounds. To say that Joey was different from Layla would be a understatement. He was the complete opposite of her in SO many ways. It made for an interesting comparison because Layla left our home at 9 months old in the beginning of Nov. and Joey joined our family at 9 months old at the end of December.

It was a VERY difficult transition for us and him. We were use to “Layla baby” and “Joey baby” was not her, nor should he have been. But it made for some getting use to. And we were not his normal. Even if a child comes from a place of dysfunction, it is still normal to them. And the older the child, the more accustom to their “normal” they become. So our home was a hard transition for him as well.

The first two weeks I cried a lot, it was hard. And I prayed A LOT! The biggest thing was he didn’t sleep. He was up every 2 hours during the night and we couldn’t comfort him, we were strangers to him. The only thing that worked was a bottle and at 22lb at 9 months being underfed was not his issue. But it was all we had. It was exhausting. It is a reminder that just because something is hard doesn’t mean its wrong. And just because God calls you to something, doesn’t mean it will be easy.

But the beautiful thing about babies and children is how open to change they are. He adjusted, he got used to our routine and it became his routine which brought him comfort. He still didn’t sleep at night, that took MONTHS, but his crying fits got less and more manageable.

Joey was with us for a little over a month when I got a phone call. Can you guess? “Christi, it’s not working out with Layla’s relatives, she needs a home. Will you take her?” I about dropped the phone. YES! There was no hesitation. And then I cried. I couldn’t believe it, my baby girl was coming back.

We talked some more. “We will just twin it” I said to the caseworker. Ha. Oh my, I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. All you moms of twins, I raise my hat to you. Twins are a lot of work! I called my husband after I got off the phone and he too said, Yes, bring her home.

We had 24 hours to go buy another crib, another car seat and a set of bunk beds. We had to rearrange bedrooms so that the 2 little ones could be together and that meant putting our 3 year old in with the big boys, thus the need for bunk beds. We dropped everything and got to work assembling furniture. Well, who am I kidding, my husband assembled it all. What a champ! But I helped by keeping little hands busy so he could work.

It was so amazing to see God preparing us for this before we knew it would happen. Just one week before the call to bring Layla back we decided to hire in a helper. I was homeschooling at the time and it was getting to be difficult to homeschool plus have the 2 little ones. Now that I would have THREE kids, 3 years old and under, I really needed that help. She jumped right in and was coming 2-4 times a week.

So that is how we ended up with two children from different families so close together. In any other situation we would have said no to another child so soon after Joey came. It amazes us the way these things work out. If Layla hadn’t left then Joey never would have been put into our home. It was clear from his story that he was suppose to be with us.

An interesting part of Joey’s story is that he and his mom normally didn’t live in Lancaster. But the night he got placed into care his mom was indeed living in Lancaster and so that is how he got put into a Lancaster home vs a different county from his previous place of residence.

If feels very clear to us that Layla had to leave so that Joey could come to us. We needed him as much as he needed us. The struggle that he brought to our hearts has brought much growth and reliance on God. We can not do this thing of loving well without God.

{Below: cell phone photos of life with 5 kids 3 of them being 3 and under}

So if you counted you might be saying , “um wait that’s only five kids…” Right. So there we were launched into 2017, suddenly with 5 kids ages 9, 7, 3, 1, and 11 months. It was crazy, pure craziness my friends. But it got even crazier. A few months into this adjustment, we were told that Joey’s mom was expecting. Unfortunately the baby would need a home. Since we had his brother, they asked if we’d take him. Well that was an easy answer, “No.” We were swamped and barely keeping our heads above water trying to love and care for all these little people.

But it’s amazing what time will do for you. Within a few months after that phone call, we adjusted to a new normal of 5 kids, mainly a set of twins. When Michael was born in the fall of 2017, we were asked again if we’d consider taking him into our home. This time we said we’d pray about it.

We now were saying things to each other like, We’d like to keep the brothers together if we can, but are we really able to add another little one to our family? What is best for our other children? We don’t want them to feel neglected. A baby is a lot of work. But it’s his brother…etc.

So we got hot and heavy and started PRAYING and fasting, asking God for an answer. And sure enough, he spoke, Joel heard that we are suppose to take him. It was enough for us. We were at the point that we WANTED to bring him home to our family but we struggled with also wanting to be good stewards of the children we had. God gave us these kids, all six of them are His, so in the end He gets to decide. We moved forward with the yes answer and a week later, November 2017, we brought Michael home from the hospital.

Christmas 2017 certainly was different than Christmas 2016. In one years time we went from 3 kids to 6. This is not normal, but in foster care, there is no normal!

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2018 was somewhat of a blur. A lot happen last year. For one thing we moved to house with a few more bedrooms which was a big help but again a difficult transition. We had weekly visits with both moms for a season but by the time 2018 ended we had adoption court dates schedule for all three little ones. And once again we were blessed to have their moms say that if they couldn’t have their child then they wanted us to. We feel honored to be the parents to these children. As we look at them. it hits us from time to time, what a privilege it is to parent these kids. This quote says it all, "A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me." Jody Lander.

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We know that not all adoptions end well, and that is so hard for everyone involved. We hear the horror stories, but we choose not live in a spirit of fear. God called us to this, so we trust Him in it. We know our hearts might get broken by the choices our children make as they grow up, but that goes for all our children, not just our adopted one. Again we choose to keep our hand open to the children God gave us and reject a spirit of fear. That is no place to live life, in the shadow of fear. The Lord is our shepherd, Psalm 23. He leads us beside still waters of rest and peace, and through valleys of death. But regardless of the good or the painful times, He, the shepherd, is with us! That is how we do this. And we keep praying and committing all our children into God’s hands. We are called to love and train them and expose them to a relationship with God, the rest is up to Him.

We also realize that we are unique in the fact that all our foster care placements have been adopted by us. We are not sure why that is part of our story. When Layla left and it was hard, my husband was like well I guess this is what this feels like. And we both assumed that it would happen more times. But it didn’t. We had no control of that its just how it happened. As our one resource worker said, there is a reason these things happen. Yes, we know God has a plan for our family and the children that he has placed into our lives to call our own.

Nov. 2018 we adopted Layla and Feb 2019 we traveled once again to the Lancaster County Courthouse and had a double adoption for the boys. We are now officially closed with Lancaster children and youth but we are still busy! We will be busy cultivating relationships with these children of our for the rest of our lives. And not only them but their bio families as well. We are so thankful that the bio families have been able to come and visit their children here in our homes since we’ve finalized the adoptions. I think maybe I will write about that sometime, our relationship with the bio families that is. But that is story for a different day.

Thanks for reading!