Most of you know that my youngest son, Finley, is autistic. Finley’s autism diagnosis was the catalyst that launched my family into a life sprinkled with meetings and therapy sessions. As a result of the efforts to help Finley deal with the issues that autism causes for him, we have come to know and love his therapists. They are regular visitors to our home. They interact with our children on a regular basis. They go above and beyond the responsibilities of their jobs to make ALL our lives better.
When we received Finley’s diagnosis, we didn’t realize that although we would face struggles and difficult moments, we would also be gaining amazing therapists we now consider friends.
Natalie is one of the amazing therapists I now consider a friend. More specifically, Natalie is Finley’s occupational therapist, and she gives me and David way more credit for Finley’s progress than we deserve. Because of the information and techniques that Natalie has provided, Finley rarely has meltdowns these days. We no longer avoid family shopping trips, separation anxiety has not been an issue for a while, and Finley interacts with those around him to a level we never really imagined we would see in such a short period of time. We now enjoy family dinners at restaurants–something we had literally not even attempted for over six months prior to beginning therapy with Natalie–and Finley now eats (and loves) pasta noodles and jello.
When you’re the parent of a child with autism, things like noodles and jello become major milestones.
Natalie never takes credit for Finley’s progress and instead always says that David and I are the ones responsible, but we are simply doing the things she has taught us to do. Without Natalie, we would still be clueless and frustrated. Because of Natalie and Finley’s speech therapist, Melissa, we have been blown away by the transformation that has taken place in our sweet little boy since his diagnosis in March.
So, why am I making this post so personal and telling you so much about my connection to Natalie?
Because my session with Natalie and Grant was different from most of my sessions, for one very important reason.
Natalie and her husband Grant are planning to expand their family through adoption.
You might remember my post earlier this year about my best friend Shana and her husband, Jason, who are also going through the adoption process. Part of that process involves creating a book filled with photos and information for potential birth parents. When Natalie approached me about this session and told me she needed photos for her adoption book, she didn’t know I had done something similar for Shana and Jason already. She didn’t know that she and Grant were about to become another special project of mine.
For our session, both Natalie’s and Grant’s families came along so that we could be sure to include them in photos for the adoption book. Grant and his family treated us to an impromptu bluegrass concert, Grant’s nephew Parker basically stole my heart (and the attention of my camera, since I can’t resist capturing an adorable smile like his), and both their families were incredibly sweet and fun to photograph. I can’t wait to get more photos of Natalie soon, and I’m itching to get my camera on their adorable dogs someday too, so you’ll be seeing more of them on my page. In the meantime, I would love for you to check out the photos below.
And before you go, I want to mention that most of us will never know the lengths to which families must go in order to provide a home to an orphaned child. One of the most unfair aspects of the adoption process (in my humble opinion) is the incredible financial responsibility placed on adoptive parents. Natalie and Grant’s family and friends are conducting fundraisers to raise money for their adoption fund, and I want to share one of those here. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me, either through the contact form on my website or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only is the shirt super cute, but you can match me and one of the coolest kids I know–Finley–if you order one!
On to the photos, right? Check out my favorites below. Natalie and Grant’s child is going to be a lucky one, for sure!