The story of Erica and Hammad’s adoption through the foster care system is a very special one. A very special unexpected blessing.
But let me start at the beginning, when I first began photographing their children. It was about 5 years ago. In the beginning there was just one; Sophia.
Look how she has grown, but still the same pretty face 🙂 Sophia was an only child until she was twelve years old.
I remember the day that I Erica called me to photograph not just Sophia but DJ also. At the time, she and Hammad were temporary foster parents to DJ. The photo session was to be a gift to DJ’s biological family. He was about to turn one year old, and had just started taking a few steps by himself. I was happy to capture those steps on video as well as photograph his sweet little self.
Erica was so protective, nurturing, loving and infatuated with little DJ. Sophia was the same. It was as if it never occurred to them that they should hold back a little. That is, protect their hearts since he was only to be with them temporarily. It was obvious to me that they had totally given DJ all that they had. A full unyielding heart.
Hammad wasn’t at that particular photo session; however, he later shared his heart to me about those early days. While interviewing him for this story, he stated that from day one he was committed to loving DJ and showing no difference between the two children. He kept expressing how much he loves him.
In my interview with Erica and Hammad, they both talked about how they were resolved from the very beginning that if DJ didn’t go back to his biological family, they were going to make sure he didn’t end up being tossed around in foster care.
DJ at 2 years old
One large component of this story is the fact that Erica knows DJ’s birth mom. Actually, they are close friends to this day. Erica is a social worker, and DJ’s mom was in the foster care system herself as a child. While a part of the system, DJ’s mom was under the oversight of Erica for a while and the two of them developed a very meaningful and lasting bond.
To make a long story short, DJ’s birth mom is doing much better. She doesn’t have parental rights any longer for DJ, but her heart is at peace. She is privy to the loving home that her birth son has.
Working many years in the system herself, Erica expressed to me that she never thought about adoption. She explained that fostering or adoption was never a thought, because she sees all the problems first hand. However, she said, “God brought him to me. I did not give birth, but He handed him to me”.
– Erica“Whatever problems he comes with, whatever greatness he comes with, he’s mine!”
In the mean time, DJ’s growing up to be quite a rambunctious little boy. Hammad describes him as the loudest ‘Baig’ in the house. Baig is their last name. He goes on to say that, “he completes our family”.
– Hammad“I would give my life for Sophia and him, they complete me as a father and us as a family.”