About 22 years ago I was diagnosed with lupus. It was around the same time I became a photographer. Lupus was such a hard thing to go through as a senior in high school. While my friends were hanging out on Miami Beach, I was trying to stay out of the sun to keep lupus as calm as possible. If you don’t know what lupus is, it’s an autoimmune disorder that flares with stress, ultraviolet light, and a poor diet. Like many autoimmune diseases, it attacks your body as if it were fighting foreign objects. Lupus attacks major organs like the skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, etc. It began to affect my heart and joints at the age of 16. As I got older, I was in and out of the hospital.
When I met my husband around 10 years later, the conversation about kids came up. I mentioned that I may not be able to have kids. I was always told that my pregnancies would be high risk because my body could attack it if I had a flare up. But he always told me that whatever way we had kids would be fine by him. We discussed surrogacy and adoption when we were planning for the future. When we got married, my health took a turn for the worst and my heart and lungs began to fail me and I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. The common phrase at my doctors’ appointments were “You will never have kids.” I hated it every time they said that and would always disagree. I knew God had an amazing miracle planned for me. I worked really hard to bring my health to a good place because we really wanted kids. And at this point it all depended on me. Having kids in the near future was my motivation to heal. They helped me focus on my end goal. Once I started feeling better, my husband and I looked into adoption. We decided on adopting through foster care. When we took the parenting classes we saw the urgent need for loving homes. Our hearts switched from wanting to be parents to wanting to parent kids who needed us.
It took less than a year to get our license to foster and we got our 1st placement. Our lives were completely changed. We’ve since adopted 2 of our kids and fostered over a dozen kids of all ages. It has been a crazy ride for us; a very emotional one. When a child goes home, it’s never easy. As crazy as it sounds, I always hope that they’ll never be back. I hope that the decision to send a child back home was a wise and well thought out one by everyone involved.
When I look back at all the struggles I went through and I look at our lives now, I would do it all over again. God has planned my life so perfectly for me. I was meant for this life. All my health issues prepared me for being able to care for others. I’m so happy that God chose adoption for my life. It has filled my heart and the hearts of so many around me. Because of this life, I became the only adoption photographer in Miami. It has been the most rewarding career. I would have never imagined this is where I’d be but I am so happy that I am. My goal now is to help kids feel loved. By bringing good families together, I know that we can give children hope.
Some people go through infertility and feel it’s the worst thing in the world. It is sad to feel like things will never look up for you. But don’t lose hope. There is always a greater purpose. If you’re considering adoption, and want to ask me any questions, follow me on Instagram: @janerisstudios Send me a message or an email. I focus my photography on adoptive families but I photograph all types of families, big and small. I photograph adoption ceremonies and family portraits in South Florida. Because my focus is on making kids feel loved, my clients leave with family portraits for their walls. It shows a child that he belongs. My career would be totally different if my life wouldn’t have ended up like this. I am grateful that I get to celebrate with so many families on what is definitely one of the best days of their lives.