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Adoptive mom's 'newborn' photo shoot with 13-year-old son brings attention to older kids in foster c

1:37 am - 02/14/2013

The face is angelic, the lighting soft and the subject is napping peacefully – just the way a newborn photo shoot should look. It took 13 years, but Latrell Higgins finally has his baby photos.

“Here's my sweet not so little newborn! His name is Latrell and weighs 112 lbs.,” his mom Kelli Higgins proudly announced on Facebook, where the boy’s simple wish created an online sensation.

Higgins and her husband adopted Latrell and his sister Chanya two years ago, welcoming the siblings to their home in Crestview, Fla. The family already had five biological children, with a sixth one on the way, but Higgins felt she had more love to give, especially to kids who would have a harder time finding a home because they were older. In the past decade, more older children have become available for adoption, experts say.

“These children, once they get past a certain age, they don’t find homes and they age out of foster care,” Higgins told TODAY.com.

“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 one day, social services called: Latrell and Chanya, then 10 and 5, were looking for a family. “Let’s just go for it,” Higgins recalled her husband saying. A few days later, the kids moved in. The Higgins were the only ones to submit paperwork to adopt the pair, the family found out.

The siblings are growing up happily, but wounds from the past sometimes surface unexpectedly.

The family was sitting around the dinner table last month, when Higgins – a professional photographer – mentioned that she was preparing for an upcoming baby photo session. Latrell mentioned that he wished he had baby photos of himself.

Higgins’ 12-year-old daughter asked, why not “recreate” a newborn photo shoot just for Latrell? The family had a good laugh thinking about him in all the newborn poses.

“I thought it was funny and that it would be a good idea,” Latrell told TODAY.com.
His mom found the notion bittersweet.

“I was very sad too because I didn’t have any photos of him either," Higgins said. "I think it’s really hard to have children and not know what they looked like when they were younger.”

Higgins and Latrell went into her studio the next day, both laughing hysterically the whole time, she recalled.

While some people have raised concerns that Latrell would be embarrassed by the photos, he told TODAY.com that he likes the results and that everyone he has showed the photos to thinks they are funny. Meanwhile, positive reaction is overflowing on Higgins’ Facebook page, where the photos have been shared thousands of times and prompted hundreds of comments of support.

"This is such a beautiful thing to do!" one person wrote. "I know so many people who adopted older children and don't have ANY pictures of their infancy. What a spectacular way to remedy that... after all, he'll always be your baby."

Higgins is particularly excited to start a conversation about adopting older kids.

“The one reaction that is really humbling and I’m really excited about is there have been a lot of parents that come to me telling me that they were thinking about adopting a baby, but after seeing those photos it’s changed their minds and they want to adopt an older child,” Higgins said.

There were more than 104,000 children in foster care who were waiting to be adopted in 2011, the last full year for which government statistics are available. The median age of a child waiting to find an adoptive home was 7, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Over the last decade, I’m seeing more older children available to be adopted and more people who are interested in adopting them,” said Gloria Hochman, a spokeswoman for the National Adoption Center.

People who adopt older kids tend to already have children and have experience dealing with pre-teens and teens, she said. There’s more help available now to families through post-adoption services, she added.

Back in Florida, Higgins said the lesson Latrell taught her is simple: We are never too old to want -- and deserve -- love, security and parents.

source: Today

Facebook photo
tabaqui 14th-Feb-2013 11:53 am (UTC)
That is so awesome. I've never understood this insistence for people to want a *baby*. What's wrong with an older kid?

At the most cynical, selfish level - no diapers! I'd have skipped diapers in a heartbeat.
thelilyqueen 14th-Feb-2013 12:44 pm (UTC)
I think there are a few reasons. There are people who simply want the experience of caring for a baby/toddler, and others are concerned that an older kid will have emotional/mental difficulties related to why they're up for adoption (neglect or abuse, for ex.) that they won't be able to work with successfully and they'll wind up having done more harm. Don't much like either of those attitudes but I can understand them. The people who earn a major Lily-side-eye are the ones like the Duggars who seem to believe that adopted kids will carry on their bioparents' 'sins'.
tabaqui 14th-Feb-2013 01:02 pm (UTC)
Are you fucking kidding me. Everything about the Duggers makes me want to puke, but that makes me want to *slap* people.

Holy fuck.
thepuddingcook 14th-Feb-2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
lmao at that one. My bio daughter is stubborn and inquisitive---and no one taught her either. she is 15 months and has been like this all her life. even in the womb.

We will probably adopt our next child....far far in the future and we will probably adopt older...if we decide on a next child.
thepuddingcook 14th-Feb-2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
She is probably not the only one that feels like that. So silly.
cinnamontoast 14th-Feb-2013 02:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks for saying this. There are very understandable concerns about adopting older kids. People should know their own limitations and motivations (although people are rarely honest with themselves about these things when they get into regular parenthood tbh), when they get involved with the foster care system and provide services. Some people just aren't cut out for it. I looked into it, did a lot of soul-searching and ultimately decided against it. As you said, there's the fear that I'd do more harm than good.

The whole system of sealed record adoption was set up around the idea that the biomother had committed some sort of "sin". Once the foster child was adopted he or she had to be protected from the biological parents. The sealed record laws continue, so is it surprising that people still carry the remnants in their attitudes?

I absolutely adore these pictures and what this family is doing. I seriously had a good cry reading this.
moonshaz 14th-Feb-2013 08:48 pm (UTC)
The people who earn a major Lily-side-eye are the ones like the Duggars who seem to believe that adopted kids will carry on their bioparents' 'sins'.

They actually believe THAT?!? Just for that, they get my Alice "fist of death" icon AND a big "Fuck you even more than ever" (because "fuck you" was pretty much my opinion of them already).
highflyer8 14th-Feb-2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
Different people have different callings. Some are meant to adopt babies and others are meant to adopt older kids. Doesn't make any of it wrong.
tabaqui 14th-Feb-2013 05:12 pm (UTC)
And the word 'wrong' was in my comment where?
highflyer8 14th-Feb-2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
What I was really trying to get at is that I wouldn't want somebody who was desperate for a ~*baby*~ to adopt an older kid if that's not what they felt called to do. I think it's fantastic that some people feel like they're supposed to adopt older kids. I feel like I'm one of those people.

All I meant was it's not for everybody and we shouldn't judge people who don't think they're equipped or whatever to adopt an older kid.

I don't really get why people need to physically have a baby either so I struggle with that one.
tabaqui 14th-Feb-2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
I don't get it, either. I loved my daughter, of course, from the day she was born, but most 'baby stuff' is either gross, horrifying, or exhausting, and i know if i'd have decided to adopt i'd have skipped right over that stuff altogether.

So long as people know their limitations, like you said, it's all good. And yeah - adopting an older kid and then pining for a baby would be...very bad.
mahsox_mahsox 14th-Feb-2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
As someone who is currently dealing with raising a couple of early adolescents, I'm of the opinion that the job would be a zillion times as hard if I hadn't known them all their lives before their hormones took over and turned them into little independence seeking monsters who still need to be kept under a degree of adult control for the sake of their safety and future.
tabaqui 14th-Feb-2013 05:11 pm (UTC)
I dunno. Maybe. Or, if you adopt an older kid, you just deal with that fun teen roller-coaster in the hopes of discovering the person they are on the other side.

(My own daughter is 15-going-on-I-know-best.)
moonshaz 14th-Feb-2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
Having recently traversed the tumultuous waters of adolescence with my (bio) daughter (and come out on the other side with both of us surprisingly unscathed), I completely agree.

Edited at 2013-02-15 03:18 am (UTC)
crooked_halo 15th-Feb-2013 01:46 am (UTC)
There is actually an article that was linked at the bottom of this explaining why adopting older kids is a complex and difficult undertaking that is not for everyone. That's not to say that adopting older kids is bad or that there's anything 'wrong' with older kids, but it is a more difficult undertaking in a lot of ways. Reactive Attachment Disorder is the main concern and as I have a brother who is adopted and suffers from RAD, I can understand just how difficult it is to try to help a child overcome that.

Don't get me wrong, I think that older kids need to be adopted and loved just as much as babies, but the early years in a child's life are so important for bonding and not everyone is equipped for parenting a child who might struggle with attachments issues.

Not to say that I don't love my brother dearly, because I do and he is my family, period. More just saying that there are reasons why adopting an older child might not be for everyone/might scare some potential parents off.

All of that said, this story made me cry in the good way. I really do hope that the fact that these photos went viral will bring more attention to all of the older children who are in need of homes and hopefully more parents will consider adopting older children.
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