I enjoyed the sun and warmth on my drive over to Evansville’s Regional Airport in Indiana. It was one of those days in January that feels more like spring than winter. The day itself seemed to be a reminder that winter does not last forever and spring will come again.
This session was a unique one for me since it was going to take place at an airport and I normally photograph families and graduating seniors in and around Owensboro, KY. I had been contacted by Nikki Wimpelberg and her mother Sara about taking pictures of a Homecoming Celebration for Nikki and her husband, Matt, as they brought home their daughter who they adopted from South Korea. Matt and Nikki had kindly welcomed my husband and me to Owensboro by inviting us out to dinner not long after we arrived in town, so I was honored to be invited to share in such a special moment for their family.
Sara, an elated soon to be grandma, greeted me as soon as I arrived at the airport and took the time to introduce me to all of the family and friends who had gathered. My heart swelled with joy at the excitement and love expressed by everyone as they waited to meet Matt and Nikki’s long prayed for child: a beautiful little girl named Moriah. There were balloons, toys, cards, and even a banner to add festive cheer to the already happy group.
Two moments stand out to me the most from that day.
As passengers began to enter the main terminal from Matt and Nikki’s flight, I glanced over at Matt and Nikki’s parents. There was a wealth of love and emotion conveyed in their expressions and body language. A bittersweet mix of the hard and good days that led up to this very moment. I almost found myself in tears just from that glance and it still tugs at my heart as I write out my reflections on that day now.
Then shortly after Matt, Nikki, and Moriah had given their first hugs to an excited pair of grandparents (the kind of tight embraces that reach down into your soul and hold within them a thousand words) I had the chance to witness another special moment.
Family and friends made a large circle surrounding Matt, Nikki, and Moriah. As these cousins, co-workers, aunts, and parents joined hands, a hush fell down the terminal and the gathering bowed their heads to offer thanks and to pray a blessing over this sweet family of three. As I stepped back to capture this moment, I noticed others in the airport looked on. Perhaps they were curious about this rather large and impromptu prayer circle. Did they see the mix of joy and tears of love that I did? Could they feel a sense of hope too?
A child represents a hope fulfilled and a hope of what is yet to come. May we seek to create a world that allows children to have hopes and may we also show them what it looks like to bring hope to others.