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Julia’s Story

I have been so excited to share this very special girl and session with all of you! Meet the beautiful Miss Julia. You will see what a strong and brave little girl she is as soon as you read her story written by her mom below.

Julia Rose was born August 11, 2014. The moment she arrived and was placed in my arms it was instant love. Her birth was filled with many emotions. So many unknowns were to come about that we were very nervous. Let me tell you a little about her pregnancy.

Julia is my third child. She has an older brother Elijah (5) and an older sister Lydia (3). We found out that we were expecting another girl at our 20 week ultrasound. Her ultrasound went well except they saw some concerning areas on her heart. From our OB we were sent to a maternal fetal medicine doctor. We had many ultrasounds and we also saw pediatric cardiology to investigate her heart condition further. She was very active in utero but they were finally able to see that Julia did indeed have several abnormalities in her heart. She had a VSD, ASD, as well as a PDA. They told us that these issues would need repair anytime between 2-4 months after birth. We were heartbroken. They also told us that these types of heart conditions can be a precursor to a genetic condition. They offered us a few options-an amniocentesis, which we declined, we didn’t want to risk any procedure that she may not tolerate. Our other option was a simple blood draw called the panorama blood screening. It’s a blood sample taken from the mother and they are able to separate blood from the placenta to test the baby for genetic abnormalities. Two weeks later we were contacted by the genetic counselor and told that our baby was “high risk” for Down syndrome. We were confused. How could this be? I am only in my thirties and we never expected this. It was quite a shock to find out that this baby I’m carrying was likely to be born with Down syndrome. Both my husband and I prayed so hard, along with many others for her heart to be healed so she wouldn’t need this surgery at such a young age. We researched and reached out to people with children of Down syndrome. Neither of us knew much about it but we wanted and needed to know everything! I met an amazing support through Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network and its directors Jen and Heather. Mary from Prenatal Partners for Life was also a great resource for us. They are all 3 amazing women/mothers. I’m so thankful for them and the support the organizations provide for families.

Returning back to her birth, I went into labor August 11, 2014 on my own, for the first time ever, and Julia was in a huge hurry to arrive. Just as we got settled in at the hospital she was born. She was big and beautiful! She weighed 8 lbs and 5 oz and had big chubby cheeks and beautiful big eyes. It was love at first sight! Luckily my parents were able to be there shortly after she arrived and they were able to hold her for a few minutes. She started having some breathing trouble (pulmonary hypertension) so she was airlifted to Fargo and stayed 2 weeks in the NICU until her lungs became stronger. I cannot thank my friends and family enough for all the support they gave us watching our other kids so Steven and I could be with our sweet baby girl. The NICU is a sad yet happy place and I will never forget the amazing nurses and doctors that cared for my baby girl while she was there.

Julia struggled to eat well and our goal was just to get to 12 pounds so she could have heart surgery. Her little heart was working so hard. She was on 3 different medications several times a day. She also was very sleepy because her heart was working so hard. We had to set alarm clocks to wake her to eat every three hours. We tried so hard but she weighed exactly 11 pounds on January 9, 2015 when she went in for Heart surgery. Her surgeons were absolutely amazing and we really had faith in them. I should have been a disaster that day, but I had such a sense of peace about everything and she had so many people praying for her that we just felt that God kept us calm through the surgery that was supposed to take 5 hours, but only took 3! Julia remained in the hospital for 2 weeks and was such a trooper. She stole the hearts of every doctor and nurse she saw with her chubby cheeks, big eyes and infectious smile! The repair was a success and in May 2015 she got clearance to see cardiology on a yearly basis!

Julia receives Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy once a week and continues to make huge improvements. Each milestone celebrated is that much sweeter. She continues to amaze us. She is stubborn (like her mommy) but I think it has helped her even if she fights the hard work the therapists do with her.

We have an amazing support system from both family and friends. We are blessed with so many people who have helped us big and small! (you know who you are) Thank you will never be enough for these amazing people in our lives. I’m so thankful that Kristen Purrington of Purrington Photography was kind enough to capture Julia and her siblings for us.

As we approach her First Birthday it’s amazing to look back on all the amazing things she has accomplished already! I can’t wait to see what’s in store next!

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A Story of Rescue and Adoption

Today I have the honor to introduce you to the most precious family.  Shantel and Kent have opened up their home and hearts to share the love of the Lord with children that have been through such suffering and neglect.  Shantel share’s their stories below.

 
From an early age I knew I wanted to work with drug addicted babies. I pictured myself as a teenager in a foreign country, working in an orphanage for little babies that were born addicted to drugs. What I didn’t know then, was that this dream born in my heart as a teenager would come to life many years later, but take on a different shape. Kent and I were married for little over a year, I felt led to talk to him about us adopting. At the time I was thinking children with developmental delay, maybe Down’s syndrome. We started the lengthy process of paperwork, home studies, physicals, getting all the small details in our home up to their required code, all the while searching for children’s photos on the website, adoptuskids. They say adoptions are not for the weak of heart, that is so very true.

While I had my ideas of who we should consider adopting the Lord had His ideas, we kept being matched with a little guy named Travis. It appeared from his photo he had more medical issues and I didn’t feel able to do that, so we kept saying no. Finally one day we knew he was to be our son. We knew if the Lord was calling us to parent him, He would give us the abilities to do it.

Travis was born at 1 pound 7 ounces, he has spastic cerebral palsy, he has severe epilepsy, shunted hydrocephalus, a feeding tube, and has had so many surgeries we have lost count after 38. He wasn’t expected to live very long, because of his medical issues, but he is doing very well currently. We have had to modify his daily activities because so many normal everyday items cause seizures in him. He is now 13 years old, however his functioning level is about 3-6 months of age.

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Travis

We were matched with a little boy after adopting Travis, we couldn’t wait to bring this cute little man into our family, he was deaf, and had other medical issues. We had a date to pick him up, the foster family was saying their goodbyes at a family party, and I was at Gillette Childrens Hospital with Travis when I got the call that the adoption had fallen through. I was devastated, my heart was crushed and I couldn’t imagine our family without this little man in it.

 
The next day I received a phone call from our social worker that we had been selected for a little girl. Apprehensively we proceeded with the match all the while still grieving the loss of our little boy.
 

That little girl was Victoria, she was born early, weighing in just under 3 pounds. She was drug addicted as well. Victoria is a true miracle and a little fighter. She was born and left in a toilet stool, her biological mother was so strung out she didn’t know she was giving birth. Paramedics were called and assuming they were removing a pin infant corpse from the toilet, they were shocked when Victoria’s little leg moved slightly. The paramedics began working on her, and were able to revive her. Victoria’s medical records showed that she has cerebral palsy, seizures, shunted hydrocephalus, blind, deaf, would never walk or talk and most likely be on oxygen the rest of her life. Her foster parents reported a very huge change in Victoria about the time we were matched with her, she was taken off oxygen, she was able to have her feeding tube removed, she started walking and talking, I was able to share with them, she had parents praying for her daily and of course the Lord was touching her. Victoria now travels with us, and sings. We are able to share her story of hope to people everywhere we go.
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Victoria

Vonte was the next blessing to our home. He was also drug addicted, he weighed in at 1 pound 6 ounces. Vonte also has cerebral palsy, a feeding tube, diabetes insipidis, and autism. Vonte has been a Dudley from the moment he was wheeled into our home. He wanted a grandpa more than anything else in life, while he was still in his foster home, we would call and talk to each other almost daily. Vonte always was kind and very to the point, however he would get bored with talking to all of us and would quickly ask to talk to his Grandpa. Kent’s dad lived with us at the time, up till his death and Vonte and Grandpa were the best buddies. Vonte is a charmer and has the most amazing smile. I often say, he is the reason I smile everyday! Vonte was in a wheelchair 90% of the day, however after moving to our home, we began encouraging him, working with him in therapy and we have been able to get rid of the wheelchair. He had severe scoliosis and had to have an emergency surgery to correct the curvature, he smiled everyday through healing and is doing fantastic.
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Vonte

Kiah is our next addition. She was by far the smallest of our children, she weighed 15 ounces at birth! She was not only drug addicted but alcohol played a huge role in her biological mothers daily life. Kiah was in the same foster home as Vonte, I met her while I was down meeting Vonte and picking him up to bring him back to MN. Kiah struggles everyday of her life with fetal alcohol and severe autism. She rages and lashes out at herself and everyone else in her way. She has been the toughest adoption, however we know she was supposed to be in our family. We love this beautiful little girl very much and we rejoice with her during her good days. Some days you wonder if you have made a difference in her life, but you don’t have to wonder for very long, she will walk up to you and stand next to you, saying she loves you.
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Kiah

I thought we were done adopting after we got Kiah, those 4 came so quickly and we had a long break without anymore children. I started planning for our future, big vacations, a small cabin someday and so on…then came Jeffrey!

 

We were asked to adopt Jeffrey because nobody else would, he was born slightly premature weighing just under 5 pounds. He was on target to live a normal healthy life. At 8 months of age his biological mother did the unthinkable, she wrapped him in a blanket and suffocated him. Jeffrey wasn’t seen by medical professionals until the following evening. He has a lengthy list of medical issues resulting from the injury, he has a tracheostomy, a feeding tube, a baclofen pump, he has had a double hip surgery and is pain everyday from all the spasticity. Jeffrey is a miracle boy and we are so thankful he is in our life. He is able to smile and communicates with us batting his long eye lashes!
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Jeffrey

While meeting Jeffrey and being trained in on how to care for a child with as severe medical issues as he has, a team of Doctors, social workers and a guardian ad litem approached us and asked us to consider Jeffrey’s Foster sister, we quickly declined and felt we had enough on our plate at the time.
We met Raniyah later that week and quickly fell in love!

 

5 months after bringing Jeffrey home Raniyah came home as well. She is so fragile that Florida was not able to find anyway to transport her to us. Eventually we took off in our van down to get her, we took a nurse with us and we had set up our van to transport such a fragile child. Raniyah was born a healthy little shy girl. At 10 months of age she was left unattended in a bathtub and drown. The paramedics worked on her for 90 minutes and thankfully were able to bring her back. Raniyah has severe neurological damage and suffers daily with disautonomia, she has seizures, a tracheostomy, feeding tube and many other issues resulting from her trauma. She is the most beautiful little girl. I am blessed to call her my daughter.
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Raniyah

Adopting is not easy, it isn’t always cute and pretty… It can be heartbreaking and frustrating. However I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The bible says in James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

 

I can plan all day long for the things I would want in life, for the things that might bring a moment of happiness and joy… However I have never felt more fulfilled in my life, saying “yes” to a child needing a home, and watching him or her learn to be part of a family, learn to be accepted and feel loved is priceless. There is no greater joy than being used by our Heavenly Father.

 

We pray for the biological parents of our children, they made poor choices, but sometimes those choices are made out of brokenness and it is so difficult to make right choices when we ourselves are broken.

 

Our family motto: only one life will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.

 

Kent & Shantel Dudley

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(left to right) Shantel, Raniyah, Victoria, Jeffrey, Vonte, Travis, Kiah, Kent

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Shantel and Dudley

Bemidji Family Photographer – The Pollocks

One of my favorite family sessions to date.

One of my favorite families to date.

Meet the Pollocks, good friends of mine.  I was so excited when they choose me to take their family pictures!  We used the grandparent’s campground just down from their home for their shoot.  The fall colors were beautiful and so was the weather!

I even got to help Lyndsi (the mom) pick out the outfits.  If you know the Pollocks you know that we had plenty of camo to dig through.  We ended up finding different colors and patterns to coordinate.  We mixed lime green with navy blue with turquoise.  I love how it all went together and made their pictures so unique!

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First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage!

This girl is one of my favorite girls in the world!  I was so blessed to be able to capture the biggest moments in her life!  For those of us who know her, it has been so fun watching her fairy tale unfold.  The Lord brought her the most amazing husband and now the most amazing little girl!  Her little girl is just about the cutest thing you will ever lay your eyes on.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!  😉  To celebrate my first “complete” love story I put together this little Facebook Cover Photo for her.  Enjoy!
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Family Photographer in Bemidji at Diamond Point Park

Amanda and I talked about the outfits they would wear for their family photos, but I had no idea they would be so cute!  Especially combined with what a cute family they are!  I was so excited with all the photos we were able to capture.  The kids had the cutest most natural smiles.  We took the photos around Diamond Point Park in Bemidji and ended at a location nearby for a couple quick shots with a red barn.  I had so much fun with this sweet family!

 

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Hiawatha Beach Resort Family Reunion in Walker

Hiawatha Beach Resort in Walker is one of the most beautiful resorts in the area.  I love taking pictures at their location!  The first time I was there was 2 years ago to take pictures for the Lee family.  Now, a couple years later, they invited me back for more family pictures.  It was so nice to see them again and to meet more of their family.  If you’re looking for a place to stay on Leech Lake I highly recommend this awesome resort!

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Graduation Announcements – Birth Announcements – Christmas Cards

I LOVE to get pictures and announcements in the mail from friends and family.  Many times they send them to share a life changing event or to wish us a Merry Christmas. Either way, I love them.  So much, in fact, that I have kept every single announcement and Christmas card I have ever received!  That’s right!  I have a lot of them!

Because I value the importance of announcements and cards, I have decided to offer them to all my customers.  Each card is custom designed with much thought and attention by me personally.  You pick the photos, and I put together a design to compliment them.  This service is offered exclusively to my clients.  It is such a fun way for them to share their special photos and memories with friends and family.

Below are some of the designs I have put together.  These are printed on a high quality 5″ x 7″ card stock   They are great for graduation announcements, birth announcements and Christmas Cards.  They are the high end option for someone looking to send the “wow” factor.

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These next examples are 4′” x 8″ announcements.  These designs are only one sided and printed on photographic paper.

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