Adoption Highlight: Mari Oto

Mari Oto is a momma from Hawaii, but currently lives in Lehi, Utah. She’s married to Richard Oto and they have four children (a five year old son, two year old daughter, 3 month old son, and 6 week old son). They struggled with infertility for years, and all four of their children have come into their family in miraculous ways. Their oldest through IVF, daughter through homeopathic herbs, and then their two youngest sons, most recently through adoption. They have been blessed to be able to experience the joys of biological children, but also the beauty of adoption. Though it has been a very hard journey, she says she would not trade her amazing life for anything.

Adoptive mom Mari Oto tells her story regarding infertility and adoption.
  • Did you adopt alone or with a partner? What is his/her name? I adopted with my husband, Richard Oto.

  • Were you and your partner on the same page when it comes to adoption or did one of you need convincing? We both have always wanted to adopt even before we met one another. So, it has been such a blessing in making our adoption process just a little bit easier.

  • How did you adopt? (Private, relative care, foster care, etc) We did a private domestic adoption.

  • How many children have you adopted? What are their names? We have adopted two of our children. Our 3 month old, Joshua, was adopted at birth from Arkansas. We also adopted our 6 week old son, Zacharias (from birth) from Arizona. Both adoptions are open and we are in regular contact with our birth families.

  • How and why did you choose adoption? We both have always wanted to adopt, but we just didn't know when the right timing would be. After many years of infertility treatments, and having both our son, Winston (through IVF) and our daughter, Eve (through homeopathic herbs), we knew the timing was right to grow our family through adoption.

  • What were your biggest hurdles to adoption day?Adoption is so difficult. One of our biggest hurdles in our adoption journey was being patient and understanding that God would bring our babies into our family at the right timing. Since adoption is so uncertain, it is a constant waiting game. Especially with a private adoption, the thought is always present if we were doing everything in our power to find our babies.

  • What emotions were you feeling before, on, and after adoption day? Before: Anxious and impatient. It was hard to just sit and wait around for an expectant mom to contact us. I remember at one point, we joked that even the adoption scammers didn't find our family attractive enough to place their fake baby with us. Haha! Those were rough days. Another friend once told us, that he could never do adoption because if they never got picked it wasn't just God saying they couldn't have a baby, but it was other people too. Those were hard real feelings to cope with. On: Still a little scared. As all things adoption, nothing is final, until it is really final. You want to embrace every moment with your new one, but there's always a small part that is anxious things could fall apart right in front of you. After: So relieved and sooooooo happy. It's hard to put into words just how amazing adoption is.

  • Would you adopt again? Yes! We feel so blessed to have added to our family through adoption.

  • Did you take professional pictures of your new family? Why/Why not? Yes we did! Family is everything to us and what better way to capture those moments together than with pictures. My sister-in-law is also a professional photographer and so booking her is never a problem.

  • If you took pictures, how do they make you feel when you see them on your walls? And why would you recommend them to families who have just adopted? I love seeing our family photos around our house. It reminds me of how amazing our family building process has been. I would definitely recommend it to others so that they can capture those moments and feelings to look back on in the years to come.

  • How is your relationship with biological family? And have they maintained a relationship with your child(ren)? We have open adoptions with both of our birth families and our relationship is amazing. They both follow us on social media and are able to see constant updates of our sons. We also chat on the phone or video call them often. It is a wonderful relationship and we hope to maintain it so that our two sons will know that they came from amazing families that loved them very much.

  • How has adoption changed you as a person?Adoption has increased my concept of family and love.

  • What would you say to someone contemplating adoption? I would let them know that adoption is not for the faint of heart. Adoption takes someone that is courageous, optimistic, faith driven, and motivated by love and a desire to find their babies. I would also let them know that it is going to be soooo hard, but soooooo worth it.

Photography by Jana Serrao Photography

To learn more about Mari Oto follow her on Instagram: @piecemyheartwhole

Janeris Studios is an photography studio based out of Miami, Fl that focuses on adoption photography. To learn more about what it means to hire an adoption photographer, click here. We focus on cementing family relationships through printed artwork of your family for your walls. Our photography style is fun, candid, and modern. If you’re interested in booking a family session or are getting ready to have an adoption ceremony, contact Janeris on the contact page to discuss options for your family.


Janeris Marte

Fun-loving photographer who loves kids