An adoptive family’s way of celebrating their love has gone viral. On Feb. 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Today reported the story behind a 13-year-old adopted teen getting his “newborn” photos.
Latrell Higgins is the subject of the birth announcement photos. They were taken by his mother Kelli Higgins, a professional photographer, and proudly proclaim the boy’s place in her heart.
“Here's my sweet not so little newborn! His name is Latrell and [he] weighs 112 lbs,” Kelli Higgins posted on Facebook.
Higgins and her husband adopted Latrell and his sister Chanya two years ago, reports Today. At the time, the couple had five biological children and were expecting a sixth, but decided they had enough room in the Crestview, Fla. home, and more than enough love, for more.
The Higgins decided to adopt hard-to-place, older children, telling Today:
“These children, once they get past a certain age, they don’t find homes and they age out of foster care. They have to figure out the world on their own and there’s no one to go back to as an adult. Where do you go for Christmas? It’s just horrible, it’s heartbreaking.”
Then social services called with news that Latrell and Chanya, then ages 10 and 5, needed a family. Higgins and her husband opened their hearts and home, adding the siblings to the household.
Last month, when Higgins was talking about an upcoming baby photo shoot, Latrell said he wished he had baby photos of himself. They were words that could break any parent’s heart.
In an inspired moment, Higgins’ 12-year-old daughter suggested Latrell get his own “newborn” photo session with Kelli. The idea amused the family, including Latrell and Kelli, but it was also very appealing.
“I thought it was funny and that it would be a good idea,” Latrell told Today.
So Kelli and Latrell went into her photography studio. There, amid much laughter, they recreated a newborn photo shoot. In the process, they also created a special family memory for themselves and a joyful moment for everyone with whom they have shared the “newborn” photos.
Kelli’s photos of Latrell reflect some of the conventions of baby photography. The series features Latrell wrapped up in in a blanket-like scarf, one focusing on his (no longer) tiny feet, or another with a peaceful look on what’s still a cherubic face.
It's that sweet look on contentment on Latrell’s face in the last photo, a look that can be described as quietly joyful, that has helped the photos go viral. The photos, and the story of behind it, have been shared online thousands of times.
People have responded to this family love story by sharing their own adoption stories, thanking the Higgins for an inspirational photo shoot, and expressing an interest in adopting older children.
It’s that last point that that makes Kelli especially happy.
“The most amazing reaction is from people writing me on Facebook saying that they were going to adopt a newborn but are now thinking about finding an older child,” Kelli told the NY Daily News.
And that reaction makes this story worth sharing, on Valentine’s Day and every day.