Adoption Birth Photographer Phoenix





Day in the Life


Macie’s Birth Story: Adoption Birth Photographer, Phoenix


Adoption Birth Photographer Phoenix

There are a few organizations I give my time and talents to, Red Thread Sessions being one of them.  Naturally, I am a photographer because I love it, but also because I believe photographs are a POWERFUL medium, with the ability to encourage, heal and transform hearts.  Red Thread Sessions is a non-profit organization that connects families who have adopted with photographers with the goal of documenting their new family.

This birth story is unlike any other.  There is not just one story to tell, but two.  It was my honor to document each of them.  I believe these photographs will not only be important for Kristen and John, as they reflect on the day their lives changed, but for Dawn, as she looks at the gift she gave.  Furthermore, for baby Macie!  Not many adoptees have the opportunity to see their story with such detail.  I hope you all, dear readers, enjoy this glimpse into Macie Kate’s Adoption Story.  It didn’t begin here, and it definitely hasn’t ended.  🙂


Macie’s Birth Story, by Kristen 

What. A. Week!  Where do I even begin??

The past 72 hours were filled with such wonder..such emotion- joy, and heartbreak. New life. New beginnings. Anticipation, excitement, tears, anxiety, nerves, beauty, celebration, sorrow.  But through it all, abounding PEACE and overwhelming LOVE.
To say that this whole situation has been covered in prayer is an understatement.  John and I felt like the whole world was praying for us.  And really, our whole world was.  Our family and friends have been on their knees on our behalf praying for every detail of this precious baby’s birth story.
We documented our road to adoption story here, but here’s a brief background.  I (Kristen) had to have a hysterectomy at age 22 after years and years of battling endometriosis and many other complications. After 5 surgeries from age 17-22 I made the decision to have a complete hysterectomy, and have known I would not be able to have children since then.  John and I talked about adoption from the very beginning of our relationship. This is something we have dreamed of, researched, planned for, and saved for a long time!
In August 2012 we felt led to really pursue adoption and made an appointment with an incredible adoption attorney in our hometown. Little did we know that that very same attorney and her family would come to be one of our closest friends as they guided us through the whole process of getting all of our paperwork ready so we could match with a birth mom. Through networking and research, we found out about an adoption situation with an expectant mother in AZ in early April 2013.
On April 15th, the day of the Boston Marathon Bombing, I got a call I will never forget. We had been chosen by Dawn, an expectant mother who was making an adoption plan for her unborn baby. The next day, John and I had a conference call to talk to Dawn. We prayed and prayed for God to give us peace if this was the right situation for us. The moment we heard her voice, John immediately relaxed and was beaming- and I knew this was going to be good!! We worked out some finances and signed a contract and we were officially matched!!
The next months consisted of texting and calling Dawn to build a relationship with her and get to know her, as well as her 15 year old daughter Bethanie. In June, we flew out to visit them and take her to an ultrasound. We had a wonderful weekend together, getting to know each other and getting excited for the big day when we would all meet this precious baby who brought us together.
 We continued to build a relationship with Dawn and Bethanie, all the while guarding our heart due to the risky nature of newborn adoption. We very guardedly fell in love with this unborn baby – preparing ourselves to love her for an hour, a day, or a lifetime. We had to raise the rest of the money for the adoption thanks to the incredible generosity of family, friends, and even strangers. God totally provided a way and we were constantly overwhelmed with His provisions!!
On Sunday, September 15, we boarded a plane to AZ, with the highest hopes of bringing our daughter home with us. We went straight to see Dawn and Bethanie, all of us nervously excited for the big day! We spent Monday running a few errands and then took them to dinner where we introduced my parents and grandparents who flew out to join us. We all had such a great time of prayer and fellowship and good food!
Fast forward to Tuesday morning.  At 8:15AM John, my mom and I met Dawn and Bethanie at the hospital for Dawn’s scheduled c-section. Dawn got all checked in and settled in her room, her daughter right by her side.
Adoption Birth Phoenix
It was all such a whirlwind– who was going to be in the room? Where was John going to be?  Would we be able to capture her first breath in a picture?  In what seems like an eternity and also the blink of an eye, I was all suited up in blue, Bethanie was in yellow protective coverings, Dawn was ready to go and the Dr. came to get us!  We all marched out leaving John in the labor and delivery room all alone to just pray and wait!  I gave him one last hug and I followed down the hall to the OR.  Bethanie and I held hands outside the OR while we waited for Dawn to get prepped.  I had my mask on, I think I was smiling the whole time, but my eyes probably tell the story- I was just taking it all in!
Adoption Birth Phoenix
Adoption Birth Phoenix
Adoption Birth Story
They opened the door and let me in the OR, guiding me carefully to my seat by Dawn’s side.  The awe and wonder I felt for this most selfless woman who was about to give birth to a baby she has promised to another family… What do I even say??  I just kissed her head, held her hand and said, “I love you, let’s do this.”  The anestesiologist distracted us with questions and small talk while we waited for the big moment.  With every push and pull Dawn squeezed my hand but never waivered.  I kept looking back to the window to check on Bethanie, giving a thumbs up as often as I could, and telling Dawn that I was getting a thumbs up back.  My heart ached that Bethanie could not be back there with us, where I knew her mom wanted her to be.  After what seemed like forever, the dr said, “here she comes” and I half-stood up, {careful to not go too far in case I needed to sit down quickly} and peeked over the curtain just in time to see my glorious baby girl take her very first breath.  And the only words I could muster was “She’s PERFECT!!!  She has so much hair!!!”  Dawn was certain she would be bald.  When Dawn heard my reaction, tears filled her beautiful blue eyes and she smiled the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.  Relief, joy, sadness all mixed into one.  I kissed her forhead and said a measly “Thank You” but what I wanted to say was YOU ARE MY ANGEL! You are who I’ve asked God for!  You can give what I can not!  And tell her how incredibly grateful I was that she chose LIFE for this baby!!
Adoption Birth Photographer Phoenix
Adoption Birth Photographer Phoenix
I walked over to the baby, quickly looking head to toe, just soaking her in.  Perfect.  A perfect miracle from our heavenly Father in the form of this tiny 6lb 10oz baby girl!  I remember being scared to touch her because I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to??  I ran to wash my hands (why didn’t I do this before??) gave Bethanie a HUGE hug, and ran right back in the OR to the baby’s side. I cut the cord, and listened to the nurse go “One, Two, Three” counting the artery/vessles in her cord, and all I hear is her say “She’s perfect!”  And I couldn’t agree more!!  The nurse says, she just got a perfect score and passed her first test!!  9&9 on APGAR.  That’s my girl… overachiever already!!
Adoption Birth Photographer Phoenix
The baby was about to leave the OR while they kept working on Dawn and I made my way back to see her and tell her how absolutely perfect she is!! I wanted the nurse to bring her over and show Dawn every detail of her baby- feeling guilty that I was able to see her first.  Dawn soaked her in as any new mom would do, gave her a big kiss, and we told her we’d see her when she got out of surgery.  Another whispered “Thank you” and we were on our way back to the labor and delivery room with the baby– where she could finally meet her DADDY!
Adoption Birth Photographer Phoenix
By some miracle, I was able to hold it together in the OR- doing more observing than processing, and stiffling the emotion.  When John saw her and picked her up for the first time, a flood of emotion waved over me and in an instant I was in tears.  This is the moment we have dreamed of forever.  And at the same time, my heart beat a little faster with the fleeting thought that this could all change in an instant. There is a certain level of risk that comes with all adoptions.  Here we are falling in love with a baby that we have no legal standing or say or anything!!  But we knew we could not afford to miss those first precious moments, in the event that the placement was successful, I wanted to be able to tell our sweet daughter that both her mommies were there for her entrance into this world!!  And here we were- looking potential heartbreak dead in the eye, soaking in every single second and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Again, the peace that passes all understanding encompassed us like a soothing blanket that stilled our heart and let us take it all in without missing a beat.
adoption birth photographer phoenix
We watched as the nurses weighed her, measured her, and checked her all over.  And can I just stop and say what amazing nurses we had?!  Such a blessing!!  I scrambled through John’s pockets looking for my cell phone.  In 4 short words, I alerted my mom who was anxiously waiting with my dad and my grandparents in the waiting room… “She’s Here!!  She’s Perfect!!!”
adoption birth photographer phoenix
Soon after, Dawn was wheeled back to the room to recover.  John and I gave her a hug and told her how absolutely amazing she was and how healthy the baby was.  We left her to recover with Bethanie at her side and the baby right there in her room.  We quickly went to the waiting room to celebrate with our family and recap what bits and pieces we could remember at the time!  I remember, balloons, cupcakes, hugs, and a DEEP BREATH.  Everyone cried, but John and I remained solid. Emotionally frozen in awe of the whole situation.  Even still we have yet to process what has just happened!!  The cheers and celebrations and encouragement and prayers of our family and friends were carrying us through every passing minute.
adoption birth photographer phoenix
adoption birth photographer phoenix
After about an hour, we were let back to see Dawn and the baby.  Time for her first bath!  One by one my parents were allowed back to see the baby.  My mom peeked around the curtain, looked first at Dawn, mouthed the words “thank you!,” then locked eyes with me, and then she zeroed in on our sweet baby.  My dad followed, in that order, and they cried and hugged and admired their new “almost” granddaughter!!
adoption birth photographer phoenix
adoption birth photographer phoenix
Next came my grandparents.  My sweet, amazing, courageous grandparents who have been on every ride of this journey with me, from every surgery and every ER visit, to now- this beautiful yet terrifying road to parenthood!  They gave Dawn big hugs and thank yous, more hugs for John and me, and then they went straight to the baby!! Oh what a joyous sight.  My family- the ones who have stood by my side through all the tears and heartbreak of the circumstances that led us to this very moment– now admiring this child for whom we’ve prayed!
Not wanting to overwhelm Dawn, we went back out to the waiting room while our hospital room was assigned.  What a blessing to have our own place to stay at the hospital!!  We had prayed and prayed for this, since we didn’t want to be one foot farther away from her than we had to be. How surreal it was to be in a hospital room and not be the patient!!  To have my husband sleep next to me on the recliner and not my mother, who stayed with me for every surgery… it was quite overwhelming.
Dawn was spending time with the baby, but she graciously let us borrow her for some pictures and some time alone to just admire her.  Just knowing we were able to capture these first few moments together gave me peace to know that we could make it through the next few days, which proved to be an emotional roller coaster for us all.  How unbelievably blessed we were to have Courtney there to get these tender moments!!
At about 5 o’clock maybe, we finally stopped to take a breath and reach out to our friends and tell them how everything was going. All of their prayers are treasures that sustained our spirit! It was time to decide her name, and John and I finally had a moment alone together to confirm that we wanted to announce her to the world as Macie Katherine McDougal, “Macie Kate”.  She finally had a name!!  Here she was, our hopefully-to-be daughter, our Macie Kate.
Over the next 72 hours, we treasured every minute we got with her.  We spent time with Dawn and Bethanie and the baby in their room, and quietly watched as they tended to her every need.  They had such a natural bond with the baby, whom they chose to name Dillynn Grace, and soaked in every minute they had with her.  While the countdown to Friday was in the back of all of our minds, we all managed to make the best of it and enjoy our time together, and individually with the baby.  God gave us easy conversation, and while sharing the baby was extremely hard, we know that we can always tell Macie how her birth mommy and her sister took advantage of every minute they had to love, adore, and tend to her.
adoption birth photographer phoenix
Those 72 hours were much more difficult, and more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.  Ups and downs, laughter and tears, hugs and heartbreak.  We barely saw Macie for the last 24 hours, which was very hard, but all the prayers for patience were put to test and our mantra was to just “Love like Jesus” and put Macie and her birth mom and family above our own instincts and desires to be with her.  Our family and friends were warriors of support and encouragement!!  They continued to cover us in prayer and pray for courage for Dawn and Bethanie to find peace in their decision to place this precious baby, whom they now loved more than they had imagined, with us.  Prayers to keep their desire for this baby to have a daddy and a life they could only dream of, above their overwhelming devastating heartbreak of separation and goodbye.
Friday came, and it was time for Dawn to sign the final surrender paperwork. John and I sat in the waiting room with our parents and my grandparents who came to support us. They were all so brave- watching their children be so close to their dream, but heartbroken for Dawn and Bethanie whom we all came to love. We nervously waited and then we finally got the thumbs up we’ve been waiting for for years, we were officially Macie’s parents! and oh it was the happiest kind of sad I’ve ever felt– joy for us and our daughter, devastation for Dawn and Bethanie. We fought waves of guilt and knew that this decision was such a brave act of LOVE by Dawn who wanted only the best for her daughter.  We gave them time with the baby, and then were able to finally see them. Our hearts just broke for them, and we all hugged and just held hands and sat in the silence of tears and we silently prayed and prayed for God’s best for them.
We all waited for discharge, Dawn tearfully put the baby in her carseat, and we all made our way to the front of the hospital together. I remember hugging Bethanie, and she buried her face in my shoulder and cried and I stroked her hair, grateful that she trusted me and didn’t turn her sadness into anger towards us. Hugs and I love yous and last kisses and we all got in our cars to drive home- John and I plus one; Dawn and Bethanie minus one. And this is the way adoption goes- it’s overwhelmingly joyous and equally devastating. Dawn had made her decision months prior, choosing life and love for her daughter, desiring to give her a life and future that she could not provide, carefully choosing a family with whom to trust with her very flesh and blood, and she followed through with her plan when she could have so easily listened to her emotions in the moment and change her mind. There is a special place in heaven for people like her, who so bravely put their child’s needs in front of their own.
Macie slept the whole way back to the condo where we are staying to wait out the legal paperwork to be cleared to go home to GA. We are so in love with her!!!  We hope that Dawn writes her birth story from her perspective so Macie can hear from her birth mommy how absolutely loved and adored she was from the second she entered the world! We will always celebrate Macie’s birth family and will continue to stay in contact through pictures, as we consider them part of our family!
We will never know the scope of how many people’s lives our daughter’s birth has impacted. It is our prayer that we exemplified Christ’s love in all our actions and may we continue to do so as we share Macie’s story. At a mere 96 hours old, her life has already touched so many people!
Macie Kate, we adore you! And we promise to do our very best to nurture, protect, and care for you for the rest of our lives! May you always know how very special you are, that you are chosen and loved and wanted and cherished by so many! You are an answer to our prayers and you have touched our lives in ways I just cannot describe. You make every surgery and hardship I faced worth it! Your story is unique, beautifully crafted by God, who has a plan for you that is greater than any you could ever imagine. I hope, like us, you will treasure these pictures and know how very loved you were from the moment you arrived.
Lamentations 3:22-25

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

To see more of their story, visit HERE.


  1. dawn says:

    thank you, thank you, a thousand thank you’s for bringing the photos to the story we have been following!!!! to see macie kate’s first breath took mine away!

    and kk… you know i love you. i cannot wait to put my arms around your family!!!!! thank you for trusting us to be a part of macie’s story, God’s story. xoxo

  2. Jan says:

    Thank you (all of you) for sharing this beautiful story of Christ’s love in action. Blessings, peace, and abundant joy to all who love Macie! xx

  3. Steph~ says:

    OMH: Oh My Heart!!!! KK and John, thank you for sharing sweet princess Macie Kate’s arrival; this journaling of the stroy paired with the BEAUTIFUL photos is a precious gift to all who love you along with anyone reading this beautiful God crafted journey! I’m over the moon happy for you both and for your families~ Seeing your sweet princess with you and John is priceless although equally priceless is seeing her with your parents and Nanny/Bobba~ Big hugs and continued blessings~ I can’t wait to see you/John and meet sweet Macie Kate when your at your parent’s~ (We have to find a new name for Sarge….Ha! Sarge is not Sarge anymore with the beautiful grandbaby daughter she now has)~ XO With love and gratitude, Steph~

  4. Diana says:

    I found myself holding breath during the story…Felt chills and cried! What a lovely story! Reminds me how much we love our birth mother..We go to our adoption finalization this Wednesday with the adoption of our daughters baby brother only a few months away….What life changing moments we are all afforded..God bless you and your sweet family of three!!!!

  5. Brianne says:

    Oh my word… This story!! The pics, the words… So beautiful. This gal is an amazing writer and each picture speaks 1000 words!! This post totally made me cry!! So happy for this family.

  6. John and Germaine says:

    Kristen, John and Macie Kate will be forever in our hearts. We are sure you two will be wonderful loving parents. May God continue to bless you and all your family.

  7. Kathy Tschirhart says:

    What an awesome story. Isn’t God so good! It is so cool to see all the generations of faithful prayers answered in such a miraculous way. My husband, Brian, and I used to babysit for Amy! We have 3 daughters, 3 wonderful sons-in-law, 4 granddaughters ([plus a 5th on the way) and 2 grandsons. We are so excited for you. Enjoy your precious new bundle of joy! Please give Bob and Joan a hug from us! They look great!

  8. […] had the privilege of documenting the birth story of Macie Katherine.  (HERE!)  It was an honor, to say the least.  Baby Macie is loved by so many!  Not only by her birth […]

  9. Valerie says:

    Perfect amazing miraculous beautiful gift from God!! His plans are matchless! What an amazing God we serve… Your words speak exactly what my heart felt in my adoption journey with Landon! Thank you for sharing this! Proverbs 13:12b … A longing fulfilled is a tree of life! Blessings!!

  10. Noah says:

    Congratulations, KK. I’m so very happy for you and your new beautiful child of God. 🙂

  11. Suz says:

    God bless you and your sweet family. We adopted a baby from FL and we live in GA. We were there for the birth and were heartbroken for the birthmom as we left to our condo to bond with our baby before FL allowed us to go back home. I totally understand all the emotion, fear, and love that goes into the entire process, especially the moments during and after your daughter is born. We support you guys and echo your feelings. God is good!

  12. […] If you would like to read Kristen’s {adoptive mommy} birth story, visit HERE! […]

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