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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More then just photos.

Hiring a professional newborn or family photographer is expensive. There are multiple reasons why, but today I just want to touch on one aspect of what you are investing your money in. When you think about hiring Christi Stoner Photography, you are investing in more then just your photos, You are investing in an EXPERIENCE. Clients receive a beautiful client guide which walks you through the photo session from what to wear, what to expect, product prices, etc. Clients also are sent a questionnaire so that I can hear from YOU and that helps me to give you a session of your dreams. We also will do a pre-session phone call, it’s so good to connect this way so that I can answer any last minute questions. At the session, I come with a plan (when children are involved we play games and we move thru it fast) and I am experienced in working with people, this helps to make sessions fun and relaxed. Ultimately, you are investing in a memory! I am delighted to be the one to capture it for you.

I just updated my prices so check out my “investment” page here or sign up for client guide to get all the details.


Motherhood mini sessions
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Mark your calendar, the morning of May 11th 2019 is when I am offering Motherhood mini session in the city of Lancaster, Pa, at a beautiful studio. More info to come within the next 1-2 weeks!

Follow me on Instagram to see updates in my stories!



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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.

I can't help myself, I do it for the moms!
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2019 was going to be my big year of change! It is, just not in the ways I expected. I rebranded and decided to pursue senior photography as well as newborn. I thought reaching out into the world of seniors would really help boost my business and expand my niche.

And then I had a one on one coaching session with my business coach, Rhonda, from Inspire Business Community. One question she asked was, why do I love offering photography to people. Imagine my surprise when I found myself instantly coming to life as I explained to her how passionate I am about moms having photos where they are interacting and laughing with their babes. I love offering lifestyle photos of moms and their kids looking at each other and enjoying one another. Those are the photos that I love to have in my home. I told her too often at the end of the day we moms struggle with mom guilt, its a blessing to have photos of you laughing and loving on your kids in those moments. You remember that you DO have good times with your kids. (I do believe the guilt needs to be explored. Is there something that needs to change? Or is it the enemy trying to bring defeat. That’s a blog for a different day.)

I went on to tell her that I value the experience just at much as the photo quality. I want my moms to remember that it was fun and not stressful. I want to offer a type of photo session that leaves parents with good memories. When the toddler starts crying, we take a break. We move on to pictures that don’t involve the toddler. And then a little later we try again. We don’t force the experience, we flow with it.

When I stopped talking I suddenly realized that my passion behind my photography business is for the moms. I hadn’t realized it until that moment. It really surprised me. So I have been rolling this discovering around in my mind for the last 2 months. And I’ve decided that it’s got to be the moms that I do this for. That is my passion! I still will offer senior photography because really, I love any photography that involves people. But I’m also realizing that I am changing course, and that’s okay. I plan to move forward with this new found realization and focus on babies and family photography here in Lancaster and Hershey, Pa. So if you just had a baby or have a young family, I would love to meet you!

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The weight of Infertility and the joy of Adoption

Five years ago my life was about to change forever and I was oblivious. Feb. 12, 2014 came and went and meant nothing to me. Little did I know that in 7 days I would get a phone call that would rock my world.

Our third child was wanted and prayed for, I was ecstatic when I saw that we were pregnant. But The joy was short lived. Feb 2013 we miscarried about 6 weeks into the pregnancy. I was devastated. We had been blessed with 2 healthy pregnancies and now had 2 boys but suddenly we were dealing with an infertility diagnosis. It was a very painful journey. I asked God lots of questions and cried lots of tears. I specifically asked him over and over again, “why did you give me a desire for more children if I can’t have (birth) them?” God in his graciousness did grow our family, His way, thru adoption.

Fast forward to summer of 2013 we did lots of praying and realized we were called to pursue foster care. We became foster parents thru Lancaster County Children and Youth because we wanted to grow our family. But God is so good. He uses our desires for His good. He puts His desires into our hearts and then works in ways we don’t understand to fulfill them. We thought foster care was to grow our family. We soon realized it was not about us. (I could write a whole blog post on that statement.) The purpose of us being foster parents was NOT about keeping babies but rather loving them with an open hand as well as loving and building relationship with their birth moms.

Back to Feb 2014. I’ll never forget the day I got the call. My arms were aching with the weight of emptiness. It was the one year mark of our miscarriage and I felt the loss very deeply. I answered the phone and was greeted by a caseworker who said there is a seven day old baby boy who needs a home. Would we be willing to take him?

My heart nearly exploded and after getting more information, I hung up and promptly proceeded to cry. I cried and cried, tears of joy. I loved that baby already. I had been waiting for him to come into my life for a whole year. I was scared too. What did it mean to have a “drug baby”? What would it mean if I fell in love and had to give him back? Lots and Lots of questions flooded me but they were overruled by a deep desire to go bring that baby home.

One wonderful thing about telling a story that happened years ago is the ability to fast forward through all the painful parts. I am so glad I don’t have to relive those 2.5 years of loving and releasing. Twice we were told he was leaving us. I wept tears of sorrow but God gave me the grace to open my hand to Him and His plan, even if it meant taking my sweet baby and giving him back to his birth mom. She loved him very much so that was a comfort, but I needed to work thru my stuff too. In the end she was unable to provide him (or herself) the consistent care that was needed.

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It was with bittersweet joy that we adopted our son Sep. 2016. Bittersweet because his birth mom was heartbroken. But we were filled with great joy to be welcoming him into our family for keeps, and we were so blessed because his birth mom told us that she couldn’t have him then she wanted us to have him. We have since been blessed to adopt three more precious babes into our home, but that’s a different story for a different day.

I might have shed a few tears of surreal joy during the court hearing.

I might have shed a few tears of surreal joy during the court hearing.

Today we are thankful. We now have a reason to celebrate on Feb. 12. We celebrate the life of our beloved boy and thank God that his birth mom loved him, wanted him. And we are thankful that he was given a chance to live life, ours are forever changed because of him.


The Re-branding Revealed!
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It’s here! The new name, new logo, new website, and new client guide… the rebranding is complete and I’m so excited about it.

So why a rebranding? My original name “Sparrow’s Flight Photography” has a lot of heart and meaning to it. But at the end of the day, it was confusing. When clients book with me, I become a real person to you. You know me by name and I learn to know you by name as well. It’s so much easier to remember the name of my business if it has my name in the title of it.

Also as a small business owner based here in Lancaster county, I know that you have lots and lots of options to do your portraits or family or baby sessions. So what makes me different then the rest? Well, the biggest thing is simply, ME. I am part of my brand and my personality (just like all the other photographers) is part of my brand. Each photographer has something different to offer because we, as people, are all unique in the way we process life and relate to others. That is another reason for the name change. Because when you book your session with Christi Stoner Photography, Christi Stoner is who shows up! I’m the one who has reviewed your questionnaire, I’m the one who writes the emails, I’m the one who talked to you on the phone, I’m the one who desires to deliver a session you love by making you and your babes feel comfortable. I hope you love meeting me because I sure do love meeting you!

So in honor of the rebranding, it calls for a celebration! the first 5 clients to contact me and book their 2019 session will get a waiver on the $125 creative fee! You can book for your senior session for this summer or your baby session next month, it’s up to you! Contact me with any questions.

To learn more about my cost and what to expect, sign up {below} for my newsletter and you will get instant access to the updated client guide digital magazine. {I’m sorry seniors I’m still working on getting the update senior guide completed, but it’s coming!!!} Also when you sign up for my mailing list, I won’t send junk mail. Basically I will email out anytime I’m doing mini sessions or running specials. People on the mailing list always get first dibs at mini sessions, etc.

2019 Has me excited to meet more new babies as well as expanding my senior portraits experience. I look forward to hearing from you soon!