Ecuador, Our Departure – And All That Lies Ahead…

warning: grab a nice beverage while reading this post. It’s a bit long … but, i don’t think, wastefully so πŸ™‚ Some of you may already know about this, but a pretty significant amount of you will not. That I can not tell you all one at a time, I apologize. But things seem to have just moved so quickly lately that it’s been nearly impossible to communicate it all. In addition, part of being more quiet about it all has been the feeling of good-old-fashioned not wanting to jinx anything – y’know? But, anyway – our update: We are flying to Ecuador in three days to meet our new daughter, to live together in an ancient colonial city, to immerse ourselves in a language we have yet to learn … and to return as a family of five at a time that can not yet be determined. So, y’know, not really much going on here right now. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ We are – all of us, the whole family – going together. That’s pretty amazing. We will be moving there for around 6-8 weeks, although we know that timeline might extend based on a variety of factors. Or it might just stay put. We’re getting an apartment, trying desperately to learn Spanish and – as best we know at this point – are all caught up on vaccinations, passports, and that surprisingly detailed list of stuff to do/have/secure. Just to follow all the rules & regulations (so, so many), there is much I cannot say at this time. But there are a few key things that I can, happily, share about the best part of all of this: Our new daughter’s name is Ana Elisa. She’s almost 3 1/2 years old, and although I cannot show her photograph, I can assure you that she has such a sweet, sweet face and eyes that have absolutely captivated me. I am so intrigued to learn more about what’s going on behind those eyes. I am so interested in knowing her. Wow. A bit of background? After our daughter was born, my husband & I got really excited about the idea of bringing our second child into the family by adoption. And when our Caleb came home from Ethiopia, at the age of nearly ten months, we experienced first-hand how incredible adoption can be, how we could form a true-in-every-way family based on nothing more than, really, love. The connection between our two children was immediate and, as we’ve happily come to learn, lasting. Here’s one of my favorite images that I’d captured right after he came home, almost four years ago. Downright vintage! But this image conveyed so much, his sweet, open smile – her inability to stop looking at him with such fascination and wonder…

Fast forward several years later, we started thinking that maybe we could switch from one-on-one to a zone defense – and upgrade our family to three children. Or, as my friend Rachel would put it: Lackey Family v3.0. I’ve been asked a lot of questions around our motivation for adoption. I know that it’s so different for every one, their reasons. We are simply floored by the beauty of adoption. For us. For others. To me, it looks a lot like hope. And so we quickly realized that we were considering no other option but to grow our family through adoption. It just felt the most right to us. Almost exactly seven months ago to this day, I posted an article that showcased our children on the front page of the News & Observer, the Triangle’s major newspaper. The article itself was very detailed, and very sad for me to read, even as I was quoted throughout the piece, and our family was showcased. The takeaway was that, basically, foreign adoption is getting almost too difficult – it was a discouraging read for anyone considering the possibility, and I was sorry to see it put out there. But, in all honesty, it also came out at a time when we had just experienced a major stall in our own process. A process that’s been about 17 months long at this point. But we received a call two months ago that changed everything. They told us her name. They sent us her photograph. They mailed us a background document that was sparse but telling. She’s been in the orphanage since she was 5 days old. She sways her body when music is played. She does not nap but is put to bed, in a room with many others, at 5pm every night. She recognizes the concept of pronouns. We accepted the referral immediately. And then we waited. For a green light to book tickets and a go-ahead that we’d been scheduled with the courts. We got that green light several days ago and booked all of our flights – Raleigh to Miami to Guayaquil, next day in-country flight to Cuenca. And we put a new date on the calendar: the exact time of the exact day that we will meet Ana Elisa. So…a lot there. So beautifully much. ____ As for studio stuff, I am beyond blessed to work with some amazing people. Truly. Any one who has ever heard me speak about Lisa Walter, our Studio Director, knows that I ooze affection when I speak her name. But she is so capable, so smart, so darn competent. She, specifically, was a significant factor in our decision-making process: can we take on an adoption involving so much red tape, so much commitment in-country? But Lisa is why I know that I can leave an enormously busy studio during an enormously busy time – and also just know that everything will be under control. That I will return to a business that is not only still thriving but also probably a few steps ahead. That realization is huge to me because this business is in no way just a business for me. I love photography, I love this entire industry. I am quite grateful to our amazing clients, that so many return again and again and then they tell their friends, allowing us this fantastic opportunity to offer our talents, coupled with our enthusiasm, again and again. And the support here – Rachel, Courtney, Michael, Jose, Steve, all those who will do their job so well and support Lisa’s efforts, too … thank you. My amazing clients: we have a great process set up to of course still be able to fulfill all those holidays orders, the gift certificates, the holiday cards, the albums. To put it simply, we are on it. For those whose portraits have been photographed but not yet received, the gorgeous wedding I am photographing tomorrow – all of your images will be turned around in the same timeframe we’d discussed. I appreciate your extra patience but every single image will be delivered at the same level of quality, even if it takes just a few days more πŸ™‚ ____ Melissa Locklear, staying in our home, taking care of our animals, checking the mail. Probably sneaking in a few house parties, hah. You have been a sister forever. You are beloved – and we are beholden. (word of the day. had to use it. it was just too perfect πŸ™‚ _____ We are moving to Cuenca, the third-largest city in Ecuador – interestingly, one of the first cities that came under Inca Empire domination. Normally, a bizarrely random fact but I had the opportunity, a few years back, to happily endure a four-day hike through all the gorges and passes of The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu … and watch the sun come up over that forgotten city on the last morning. I just have had a whole new sense of appreciation for the Inca culture after that. And anyone who’s been there probably knows what I mean. But, I digress. Ack. Back to the point, our new home for the next couple of months:

I plan to keep up the blogging from Ecuador. Goodness knows, I have a lot to catch up on – I am months and months behind on posting weddings and portraits. It’s been a beautifully busy year! If you have been looking for your post, as some of you have emailed me, it is coming πŸ™‚ I honestly haven’t shot one wedding, portrait or editorial session this year that has left me feeling anything less than so pleased, and I am excited to share the wonder of that. Since I just don’t know exactly how often I will be able to post, though, I will be sure to twitter often. That is simply the easiest thing for me to do to stay in touch. If you are not on twitter, sign up {it’s easy, fast and free, mom & dad!} once you sign in, just search for “Tamara Lackey” and click follow. That’s it. And once you’re there, I’d love to follow you, to keep in touch with many of you that way, too!! ____ Lastly (for any of you who stuck around this long, whew!) more than a few wonderful people have asked me if there’s anything they can do. Honestly? Just send a ton of great energy out for this little girl who is about to experience such an enormous transition. That’s all I would want. Everything else is just kind of wonderful. Crazy, lovely universe.

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