Posts tagged Lancaster Pa
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.

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!






Our journey with infertility, fostercare, and adoption. Part 1 of 2

Our adoption story actually starts with a unique infertility story. My husband and I were blessed with 2 healthy pregnancies, and then a miscarriage, and then we were diagnosed with what is called “secondary infertility”. Basically it means we once could produce children and now we can’t. And the really interesting thing… we BOTH got that diagnosis. Think God was making it clear to us? Yeah, we did too.

Despite it being clear, it was a long journey for me as a mom to come to grips with. But God used the pain of that journey to led us to a new one, the world of foster care! It started as way of filling my aching empty arms but by God's grace it grew into so much more! We not only got to love on the babies that came into our home but also their parents. We love that we get to build relationship with them too. These are stories of hope despite the sorrow.

Backing up to 2014, our first {adopted} son was such a surprise. Our youngest bio son was 4 years old when we got involved with Lancaster County Children and Youth, so we told them we’d be open to a 3 yr old or younger. We didn’t want to mess up birth order and it didn’t seem safe to bring older children into our home since we had 2 young sons. The surprise was that it took 3 months to get a placement call and then we got the call on the one year anniversary of our miscarriage and were asked to open our home to a 7 days old baby boy, still in the hospital! A newborn was a balm to my broken heart. He was God’s gift to me. And I began to heal. As my heart healed it also matured. God used the life of my son to open my hand of control. To be open handed to God’s plan and not tight-fisted to MY plans… it is a hard journey to get to that place of release. But I will say this, God was so gentle with me as he exposed me in my sin and grew me in my faith and love for Him. Two times our son was suppose to leave and reunite with his birth mom, both times it fell thru. Both times I wept at the idea of losing him and I wept at the idea of his birth mom not having him either. We love her and so it’s such a hard thing, to love “your” child that is actually her child and not want to give him up. There is SO much more I could say but you can read more about his story here.

By the summer of 2016 Joshua’s adoption date was scheduled for September so we felt that we were at a place to open our home up again, this time we said all placements must be under 1 year of age because Joshua was just 2.5. July 2016, I got a call asking if we’d take a 6-month-old baby GIRL. A Girl?! I was ecstatic! We met the birth mom and from the beginning we were able to form a good relationship with her. Four kids was a BIG adjustment for us! Anyways, about 2 months into Layla living with us, the court ordered for Layla to move to her relatives home.

{Below: cell phone photos of our first week with Layla. Bring out all the PINK please.}

We understand why this happens. If WE had a relative in foster care WE would want to have them live with us, not some strangers. But it’s hard on your heart to see a child you opened your heart to leave. {This is foster care, it’s about them, not you. You do it for the child, not for you.}

After another month of court visits and all the details getting put into place we packed her little pink duffel bag and dropped her off at the agency, it was terrible. I cried off and on for weeks but it was a time of soul searching and hearing from God. That is the beauty of hard times, we seek the face of our Lord and He is right there to comfort us.

December came and we enjoyed having Layla for a weekend visit. We talked to the relatives and were glad to hear everything was going really well. But man, it felt so right having her back in our home. Needless to say, after the weekend was over and we dropped her off, I cried the entire way home and for the next week. Love really hurts sometimes, but it’s a good kind of hurt. It’s a hurt that is about more then just you.

{Below: cell phone photos of our December weekend visit.}

Christmas came and we reflected on our year. Here we were,back to just us and our 3 boys. This is the way of foster care. Your family grows and decreases. It’s not your job to decide if it’s fair or the right thing. It’s your job to love the kids and love their parents and love God even more then the rest. Because the kids and the parents might come and go, but God is there forever. He is the one to put your trust in and He is the one who gives strength to love and release. You trust that you planted seeds of love and trust into those broken little people and then you commit the child into God’s hands to do the rest.

2016 ALMOST ended on a quiet note, but this is where the story gets really …unique. It will be another 10 paragraphs to write out what all happened next so I think I’ll stop here and finish the story in the next post. Thanks for reading, I invite you along for the next part of this story.

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Lancaster Pa in home newborn lifestyle session
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I feel so honored to be invited into peoples’ homes here in Lancaster and Hershey Pa, to capture these sweet moments. I’m also thankful for client who are so kind and understanding. I had to call and reschedule this session due to the funeral of a dear family friend. Pam was so gracious about the whole situation, and willing to bump her session to a different date. It was delightful to finally meet her sweet babe and the rest of the family as well their massive puppy, Zeus.

One thing worth mentioning is that I send all my clients a questionnaire. The purpose of this is to discuss expectations of my clients and it helps me get to know them a little bit before the session. On her questionnaire Pam said that she and her husband would like to incorporate their pup, Zeus if possible. He was a friendly giant, with a personality big enough to match his size.

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At one point I was kneeling down, taking photos of the family and Zeus walked up and gave my camera a big sloppy kiss! I was stunned. But really it was so funny, such a puppy thing to do. Thankfully I always carry my lens cloth with me so it’s wasn’t a problem. At 10 months old he is huge, but still very much a sweet playful pup. I told Pam, she doesn’t have 2 kids, but three! She seems to be doing just fine, especially since her husband Dan is such a team player when it comes to the kids… all three of them.

Baby Ava was a doll, clearly adored by all, including her big brother.

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I love to capture all the little in between moments. The swaddling, the feedings, the hugs and kisses that are meant to soothe the tears. These are beautiful normal everyday acts of love worth capturing.

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In home sessions are so cozy and relaxed. I love the natural feel of normalcy and yet beauty, that an in-home session gives. Contact me here if you are interested in booking or click here to read my client guide with my full listing of prices.