Like any human being with a heart, I am a sucker for a good newborn baby picture. And as an OB nurse, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of those first moments — when a mother holds her infant for the first time, when a father stares lovingly at the family he has created with the one he loves. Those are moments that I hold on to when I hear all of the horrible things in the world, the moments that reassure me that love is real and that goodness exists.
But this family?
This family takes the cake for some of the most beautiful first moments I have ever seen.
When Kristen Anne Prosser, a Twin Cities photographer, shared her pictures of David and Sarah Olson meeting their adopted daughter Tilly for the first time on Facebook, it didn’t take long for the post to be shared around the world. In one series of photographs she was able to capture everything from the tension leading up to the adoption, to the pure joy when the Olsons finally met their daughter. I was able to speak with Kristen and the Olsons to learn more about their incredible story.
David, 38, and Sarah Olson, 31, of St. Paul Minnesota had a difficult time when Sarah was pregnant with their first two children, Zakary, 6, and Levi, 3. From the start of their relationship, they knew they wanted three children but were unprepared for the challenging road they had ahead of them. Sarah’s pregnancies were hard on her body, even causing her pelvis to break from the pressure of her baby. After multiple hospitalizations, bed rest, and other complications, the couple welcomed their boys — one of whom would later be diagnosed with Spina Bifida.
But they felt strongly that their family was not quite complete. They decided to pursue adoption, eventually finding their way to Christian Adoption Consultants and sharing their adoption journey on their blog.
The couple was put on a list for a “stork drop,” — wherein a baby that has already been born is matched with adoptive parents quickly after its birth. One day, their consultant called asking if they were “ready for a miracle.” All they had to do was say “yes” and a baby girl in Florida would be theirs.
“We almost didn’t let her finish the sentence [before we] both blurted out, “YES YES YES YES YES!'” says David. “Instantly our hearts flipped with excitement.”
After the “very longest possible travel day in the history of life,” David and Sarah arrived at the hospital to meet their baby girl.
“Our hearts were going a million miles a minute,” describes Sarah. “Then she was brought in [and] our hearts melted. … There was an instant love connection. We prayed that God would bring us a little girl, and there she was … all 5 lbs. of her. Love is both a noun and a verb, and in many ways so is adoption.”
“In my photography career, it has been my passion to photograph big moments in people’s lives, and to demonstrate the true emotion that is felt in front of the camera,” explains Kristen of her decision to photograph the event.
“My friend Sarah and I have talked about this moment for a long time, how special it would be to her and her husband. This [was] a HUGE change in their lives, and it was such a honor to capture the emotion of it all.”
For David and Sarah, there was no question in their minds that they wanted to photograph their first moments with their daughter.
“When we created an adoption plan, we had in our minds to capture these moments,” they told me ” … so we can show our daughter [one day] what we felt when we met her. We treasure [these] photos.”
Upon watching the Olsons meet their little girl for the first time, Kristen says she “tried so hard” to stay professional. “That was hard to do!” she told me. “I was sobbing behind the camera. It was such a beautiful moment, it was so surreal that I was there to witness this huge profession of love.”
So what was it like watching these new parents meet their baby girl? “It was an immediate rush of pure, genuine excitement,” says Kristen. “There was zero hesitation and their main goal was to get to the baby as fast as they could!”
“When she rolled into the room, we were hooked!” David and Sarah explain. “In one split second, we met our daughter and our lives were changed. We couldn’t even imagine what our lives had been like without her and we just met her. THAT is the power of adoption.”
“Seeing our daughter for the first time was surreal,” says Sarah. “We had planned and prayed for this little girl for a long time. That moment we laid eyes on her, we knew that she was our daughter. If you have ever watched a movie, watched a birth of any sort, or even had a child of your own, there is a moment that the mother sees her child for the first time and her face speaks volumes where words fall short. There is a recognition in her eyes that this little human is hers.
That is the same feeling we had when we saw her. There was a recognition that this little girl was OURS. We felt the same emotional, spiritual connection with our boys. The tremendous power of adoption is once again confirmed in the awesome amount of love that we have for this girl.”
David and Sarah shared that they have chosen an open adoption for their daughter, meaning that she will have a relationship with her birth mother.
“In our situation, we had an opportunity to meet our daughter’s birth mom,” they explain. “Words [can’t] describe the depth of gratitude and respect we have for our daughter’s brave birth mother. When we met with her, there was a mutual respect and love as we talked. She chose life for our little girl. She demonstrates the supreme gift of love for this baby girl and we will forever honor and respect her and share this legacy of love. Our daughter will grow up knowing that she did not abandon her or throw her away but that she loved her.”
The family is now looking forward to settling in together.
“We are so excited to bring our daughter home, ” the Olsons share. “We [cannot wait] to begin this new chapter with our daughter.”