In December 2012, Seattle photographer Jennifer Loomis decided she was ready to adopt a child. As she scrolled through blurry photos of children on the Northwest Adoption Exchange (NWAE) website one night, she struggled to feel a connection. “I couldn’t get a sense of who the kids were,” Jennifer says.
She e-mailed the organization that night, volunteering to photograph the kids. With 18 years of experience as a documentary and portrait photographer, Jennifer, 44, believed she could use her skills to bring out each child’s personality. After the NWAE gratefully accepted her offer, Jennifer set up a photo shoot with five boys and two girls, ages nine to 17. To entertain the kids, Jennifer brought her dog and a trampoline, along with a makeup artist. Local businesses donated balloons and food. “I wanted to see the kids smile and laugh,” she says.
The photos were posted online in August 2013. Prospective adoptive parents Joanna Church and Sean Vaillancourt visited the website and were immediately drawn to one child, 16-year-old Deon (pictured, right). It was Deon’s “sparkly, happy eyes,” says Joanna, that encouraged the couple to pursue an adoption. They adopted Deon in October 2014.
NWAE won’t disclose how many children have been adopted to date, but a spokesperson says the photos have been “an invaluable tool” in matching the kids with families.
Jennifer never did adopt, but in July 2014 she gave birth to a son. Meanwhile, she will continue photographing foster children. “Their lives depend on it,” she says.