Personal

To Everything there is a Season

As some of you know, we have been home just over 3 months with our sweet son. We absolutely love and adore him and are so thankful for this adoption journey that brought him to us and us to him. He is beyond a joy!

Throughout these past 3 months it has become very clear that life has different seasons. I have always known this, but it is even more apparent now. If you know me, you know I don't sit down very often. I am a go-go-go kinda girl that enjoys juggling a lot. But right now, in this current season, I am [humbly] realizing that I juggling a lot would not be wise. I am learning that I need to set some things aside for the betterment of myself, my family, and also for my business.

Doing things halfhearted is not in my genes either. If I am going to do something, I am going to do it and do it to the best of my ability. And with that, I have been needing to take a hard look at what I am able to balance within my business. 

Seasons

Over the past 10 years (going on 11) I have had the joy and privilege of photographing hundreds of newborns. And with that, grew a passion to educate and teach on the importance of newborn safety on many different platforms. 

If you have ever been in one of my newborn sessions, you will quickly know that these are not short and quick sessions. They take time, methodical movement, and patience to ensure the newborns utmost safety throughout the entire session. These sessions typically run between 2-3 hours in length, depending on the baby. Once the session is over, post production and editing of the images comes next. Each image is carefully edited in a way that reflects my artistic nature and is also another outlet for artistry, which isn't a quick process, but something I love doing.

Prior to leaving for China in November, I felt and knew that things were beginning to shift and change. That when we arrived home, I would need to take time to focus on our new son and allow time for transition in our new family unit. And throughout these 3 months post travel, I have been seeing more and more that something has to give and be placed on pause. And that something is Newborn Photography.

As difficult it is for me to not photograph these beautiful new babies, I know that this is the right decision. My career is not over as a professional photographer. I am still booking and photographing babies 6 months of age and up, along with portraits (family, individuals etc), and a small number of weddings. However, the amount of sessions I will be currently booking will be limited.

I couldn't be more grateful for the past 10+ years as a photographer and newborn photographer. I have had the honor and privilege of documenting so many beautiful babies and have loved doing it. I will greatly miss holding these sweet babes during this season. But know that I will have the opportunity to do it again in the future.

Thank you for all the love and support throughout our journey and road to welcoming our sweet son into our lives. We absolutely adore him and are so blessed beyond words that God has brought us all together. I would do it all over again...

xoxo,

Life Changes || BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

I have wanted to share this news for a LONG time, but have also felt incredibly protective over this announcement because it is life altering for us and deeply personal. I have debated with myself on WHEN to share our announcement and story... Even now, as I prepare to press "PUBLISH" my heart is pounding. But... I just can't hold it in anymore!

We are extremely excited! It's been a LOOOOOOOOONG time coming. But here we are!

Over the last 4 years we have gone back and forth with the idea of adoption. Should we? Shouldn't we? Maybe? I don't know? I'm game, but he's not. He's game, and I'm not... Until October 2016. That's when everything changed. But let me back up a little because there's a WHOLE lot more to this story, so I hope you'll bear with me, because the details are just as important to our decision.

Prior to October 2016 I had been following my friend's adoption journey of their little guy they brought home a year ago from China. Every time they made an announcement, I had a tug on my heart. And I firmly believe that God was pricking it. Then another friend announced her foster-to-adopt plans and God tugged on my heart again. Over and over this would occur in conversations with friends or adoption journeys that would take place. That constant tugging...

Last summer was a season of wrestling for me. It was extremely busy. Too busy. Our calendar never seemed to slow down and I felt like something was getting ready to change. But didn't know what. We had finished our first year of homeschooling, which went great and I was planning and prepping for our second year as well as trying to balance a crazy busy summer season for my business. I literally entered fall completely fried and needing something to give. I had no clue what was about the happen. Or maybe subconsciously I did but didn't want to admit it, because that still small Voice kept bugging me, "Hey, remember that idea? Yeah, that one." Because honestly, I was good with my one. I was content (or so I thought I was) and we were moving along in life...

Then at the end of September we were at church and I looked to my left and there was my friend, the one who had just recently adopted their little guy from China. And man did the stirring happen even more. Meeting Knox, seeing his little face. It hit me harder. And it's not like we aren't around friends who have adopted. There are SO many families at our church who are living out James 1:27 and have adopted or who sponsor children or go on missions trips and help orphanages... Our Pastor has adopted two brothers from S. Korea. Our close friends have adopted... It's not like we aren't aware of the need. Because, there is a HUGE need for good families to open up their opens and welcome these little ones in. Jerry and I have sponsored 5 children for over 12 years. We know there's a need. But could we really do it? Did I really WANT to?

A few weeks later my friend Janay and her amazing 4 kiddos came over and she told me they were in the process of adopting their second from China. I asked her a TON of questions about the process, of which she graciously answered them all. (And please know, you can ask me any good-intentioned question! I am an open book on this process.) She told me about the orphanages and all of the little ones still waiting. STILL WAITING. Especially those with special needs... My heart basically shredded. I held in tears and listened as she told me about her own God-designed adoption journey.

That night, I posed the question to my husband again... "What do you think about adoption? I don't want to go through this life thinking 'Why didn't we try?' I think we should fill out the application to at least get more information on the process. What do you think?" And in good male fashion, Jerry responded. "Okay." :) He's a man of many words. LOL

So that night, on October 6, 2016, we filled out the initial application and haven't stopped running since. 

I'm sure y'all have a TON of questions, so I am going to try and answer as many as I can with the Q&A below from questions I have already received. But if you have any other, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments!

Why did you choose China? Honestly, God directed us to China. For the longest time I always thought that if I ever adopted, it would be from Africa, since that is where I lived as a child. But God pointed us to China, of which the reasons have become more clear as we've been on this journey. But International or Domestic, there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of children who need GOOD homes. And my child happens to be in China.

Why are you adopting? Could you not have another one? Extremely personal question, but people want to know and I honestly don't mind answering. No and Maybe?? I don't know and it really doesn't matter. When Brooklynn turned 2 we started trying again to have another baby. We tried off and on for 3 years and when she turned 5, I got rid of the crib, which was closure for me on us having another one biologically. But I truly believe it was because God was preparing us for this moment in our lives right here, for which I am grateful for!

Will it be a newborn? NOPE!!! I love photographing newborns!!! But our age range is between 10 months - 3 years of age. In China, newborns are not adoptable. When a Child is abandoned, they spend 9 months trying to locate family members or the parents to claim the child, no matter what age they are placed in the orphanage.

Will it be a boy or a girl? We are open to either. But the majority of children who are waiting to be adopted from China are boys. (And everyone says, WHAT?! But I thought...) Yes, in the early 1990's when the One Child Policy began, there were a LOT of girls being adopted, and still are. Many favor girls for various reasons, leaving boys as the "undesirable children" for adoption. Especially children with special needs. It's heart breaking.

Special Needs?: Our child will also most likely have some form of minor to moderate special need, of which we go over lists and lists and openly discuss with our adoption agency what we feel comfortable taking on.

How long does the process take? Our agency says anywhere from 15-18 months depending on various things. I personally feel like we've flown through the process except for a little hiccup during our Home Study process. We are currently (as of May 6th) 7 months into the process.

Where are you at in the process? We have completed all of the MAJOR paperwork, our Dossier, which is now being processed and on its way to China. Below is a little map of where we are currently at:

Have you been matched with a child yet? Not yet, but I am praying that we will be matched by the time our documents have received their "Logged in Date" in China. This meaning, China has received our paperwork and we've been logged in to their system. I currently don't remember how long this next part can take... But at least a few months. This is where the waiting gets hard.

Will you still run your business? Yes. However, once we have our travel date and head to meet our child, I will be taking a "sabbatical" for a period of time for us to connect and bond as a family of FOUR and adjust to our new way of life. I will share more of these changes soon as I will also be taking on a limited number of clients post-adoption. 

So here we are!

We are really excited about this life change and KNOW it will not be easy. We have studied, watched MANY documentaries, read SO many books and are so grateful to be surrounded by families and friends who have gone before us in this journey...

We covet your prayers throughout this process and will share another update once we have been matched with our child!

I CAN'T WAIT!

Make Believe || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

Make believe... a child's favorite game.

This past weekend we watched Anne of Green Gables after finishing the book. When the movie was over, Brooklynn immediately went into role playing and was on the hunt for a long gown she could pretend in. I happened to have this vintage gown in the closet I purchased for a photo shoot and decided to let her play in it.

Today she asked if I would do a photo shoot with her, which I obliged.

I'll be the first to admit, I don't take enough photos of her with my "big" camera. I have plenty of cell phone photos, but I admittedly fail when it comes to pulling out my professional gear at home. But today was fun. It took all of 15 minutes and the images aren't perfect or perfectly edited. I can sit here and literally pick apart all of the technical details that need to be corrected and how I should have shot the image differently and exposed it in-camera... But that wasn't and isn't the point of these photos. The point  and purpose was to allow my daughter to pretend, make believe, and do HER "thang." Not my own. 

And honestly, it was fun. :) 

I love this girl. Her personality, her creativity, her love for pretending in doing "fancy" things. And I love that I have the opportunity to watch her in this phase... Because how quickly it will go. 

Brooklynn_01.jpg

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Hello February || Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer

Hello February,

I am so glad you are a short month.

Today the skies are clear, the sun is shining, and it is frigid outside. I'm not one who likes to be cooped up for very long. I am very much a do'r and get'er done'r (<--- yes, I know this is poor English, ha!) so when there is down time, I begin to go a little stir crazy. Although, I am enjoying winter's ways of forcing me to stay inside and get much needed office work done and begin prepping for upcoming sessions.

Although, I am VERY excited about all of the upcoming newborn and maternity sessions that are booking up my calendar quickly!

 Image from Pinterest

Image from Pinterest

Spring will be here very quickly, so if you are hoping to book your session with me this spring and summer, NOW is the time to book. My calendar books quickly, and once it is full, it is sadly full.

Happy February!

January Be Like... || Personal Post

January... A month for getting projects done.

When it's winter, we tend to focus on projects inside our house so that when spring and summer arrive, we're outside as much as possible.  It's also a time where I am able to spend focused time on business planning for the coming year.

Right now we're FINALLY tackling our laundry room, which has DRIVEN me NUTS for the last 5 years we've lived here. When we bought our house, it needed a LOT of TLC. The previous owners left the home disgruntled, so there was a lot of fixing we had to do. One of the random things they did was take racks, doors, and cabinets when they left the house, which then sat empty for 2 years before we purchased it. One of the rooms left all disfigured was our laundry room.  And I am so excited we're finally renovating it!

We're in the process of putting that ever popular shiplap up on the walls and painting it white. The upper cabinets are finally in and have been painted white as well.

 Images from my personal Instagram Account:  @michellecnewell

Images from my personal Instagram Account: @michellecnewell

My husband built the lower cabinet and is installing reclaimed barn wood as the counter top for the vessel sink and vintage inspired faucet to sit on. Once the shiplap has been completely painted, we'll be putting two shelves above the sink on the wall out of more reclaimed barn wood. I'm so excited to see it all come together. It's turning out to be one of my favorite spaces. Plus, now I'll actually enjoy going in there to do laundry! Ha!

I'm glad we have some personal in-door projects to work on right now because I have been itching to get outside. I'm ready to plant my garden and enjoy warmer weather... But I keep reminding myself that we still have at least 2 more months of winter weather ahead of us... Gah! But that's okay. I will enjoy the calm before the busy spring and summer months ahead!

My schedule is already beginning to fill up with spring and summer portrait sessions. So don't delay if you've been on the fence with booking. I always get super bummed when my calendar is booked and I have to turn people away. So BOOK NOW!