Three years ago I met a woman named Morgan Cooper. At the time we both worked for a non-profit in Memphis that served orphans in the slums of Kenya and Uganda--some of the largest in the world. It was there that we began a friendship that intertwined the journeys of several people.
On the surface, Morgan and I lived entirely different lives. The only real similarities we had were a shared love of travel and living abroad. But we found ourselves confiding in each other, especially when things got tough in both our personal and professional lives. We came to share roles in each other’s journeys--hers through infertility; mine through an eating disorder. Our bond led to a very real and lasting friendship, both with her and with her husband, Jared.
In three years of knowing them, I’ve watched Morgan and Jared care for children of many cultures, teach school despite language barriers, and show love to forgotten orphans of the world regardless of oceans and borders between them -- all while trying to start a family of their own. They are high school sweethearts, both becoming teachers to study childhood development to better serve their future children. They recently celebrated their 9 year wedding anniversary, and for those 9 years they've wanted nothing more than to become a mom and dad.
Today I’m writing to share part of their journey through (in)fertility--the f word that no one is talking about--and adoption. I want to do so with the utmost humility, grace, and admiration for them--for their courage and faith. In sharing this story The Coopers and I hope to raise awareness, encourage others in the adoption process, and as always “keep it real” when others aren’t talking about it. We all have obstacles to face, and we all have bad days. We also all have the choice to look at the not so great situations with a “sunshine state of mind.” And that’s exactly why I find Morgan and Jared so inspiring.
Morgan and Jared began their first adoption process in 2015. I remember the adoption announcement like it was yesterday.
“January 30th, 2015
Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
A little early for a valentine
But the Coopers have BIG news for you
A new Adventure - we want you to be a part
Because there is a baby in Haiti
growing in our hearts!”
With an original estimate of 2 years, cultural and political conflicts and natural disasters have prolonged the process. We’re still waiting on their baby.
But this year they posted another exciting announcement!
"roses are red
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
A BABY IN HAITI
AND COLOMBIA TOO!"
Yes, in January of this year, the Coopers were approached about an urgent needs case in Colombia. After careful thought and prayer, they decided to proceed with adopting a second child from a second country, despite the many added responsibilities.
Days after the announcement I sat with Morgan at their kitchen table, eyes welling while I listened to her. They’d decided to bring home a little boy who had been diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, meaning he’s extremely positive and doesn’t usually understand social norms or have inhibitions. Kids with Williams Syndrome--or “Eternally Sunny Syndrome”--are known to thrive in creative, crafty and musical environments. The Cooper household is quite literally a match made in heaven for this little one. And luckily, things are moving quickly for the Colombia process! Morgan and Jared are simply waiting on one paper to be processed before they get a travel date to visit their baby. They’ll stay a few weeks before bringing him home to the U.S. Meanwhile, we’re all just continuing to keep a sunshine state of mind in regards to the baby in Haiti. Ideally, more progress will happen soon, but it is honestly a process that requires an abundance of patience and faith.
The other aspect that requires a lot of faith? The financials.
Last October, Morgan asked me to travel with them to photograph the day they met and brought home their baby from Haiti, and needless to say, I was floored. Honored, humbled, grateful, overwhelmed. When they decided to bring home their little one from Colombia, again, they asked me to travel with them. It’s very hard to describe how privileged I feel that these friends trust me to document the days that they meet the children they’ve been praying for for so incredibly long.
So when Morgan generously asked me to think about how much I would charge her for these photos on top of the travel costs, I was at a loss for words.
I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t possibly put a price tag on this. Especially not when I knew how much the adoptions themselves are costing and how much of the process has been paid for by grants, fundraising, acts of love and service, and sheer miracles. In honor of that, I am talking about (in)fertility, the f word that no one is talking about. And I’m also talking about adoption, because infertility is real and the orphan crisis is real, and we can never understand the gravity of the situation until we are educated on it.
Below is a cost breakdown of adoption fees
Colombia | (1 trip/3-4 weeks)
Lifeline Agency Fee: $11,550.00- $14,550.00
Third Party Fees: $14,729
Total Before Travel: $26,279- $29,279
Travel Expenses: $12,110.00
MORE detailed info: https://lifelinechild.org/financial-information-columbia/
Haiti: 2 trips
Lifeline Agency Fee: $11,550.00- $14,550.00
Third Party Fees: $18,524.00
Total Before Travel: $30,074.00 – $33,074.00
Travel Expenses: $7,175.00
MORE detailed info: https://lifelinechild.org/financial-information-haiti/
The math is shocking, and honestly somewhat discouraging. But I truly believe there is a way. I also believe that Morgan and Jared deserve photos of the day their kids are brought into their lives. If one day, these children need photos to help tell this story and fulfill their life's purpose, I want them to have those photos.
With that being said, I’m asking for another miracle, one more act of love, because let's face it, Love knows no borders. In lieu of payment for the photos, I’m asking for financial help to cover the cost of travel for myself and help with the remaining fees to get the Cooper kiddos home. I speak on behalf of Morgan, Jared, and myself when I say we’d be forever grateful and humbled.
Your support and prayers are just as welcomed, appreciated and never taken for granted.
We promise to give you an update with photos once the kids are home. In the meantime you can follow Morgan’s blog for the more in-depth story.