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Born into hearts; The Fankhauser Family; NW Indiana Adoption Story


Born into hearts; The Fankhauser Family; NW Indiana Adoption Story

Unexpected Blessings

This week I have the pleasure of introducing the Fankhauser adoption story to you.  As I began listening to their story, it became very evident to me, that their story was quite unique, quite a bit different than the stories I have encountered thus far, and yet every bit as powerful and beautiful.

Now, the Fankhauser's on top of having a unique adoption story, also have a unique factor in their family in the fact that both mother and father are named Jamie.  :)  So, to be able to keep matters clear I will title Mother Jamie as Jamie (M) and Father Jamie as Jamie (F). Jamie (M) and Jamie (F) have 3 beautiful daughters, Brooke, Brianne, and Ava.  Brianne is now married to Carson. 

The story began in 2000 when Jamie (M) began feeling a call upon her heart to adopt.  Jamie (F) did not feel called to this at first, but in time, he too could not shake the feeling that adoption would be in their path for them.  After lots of prayer, and just having different things happen around them, they felt called to adopt through Romania.  They went through all the steps, paperwork, and all.  However, after they had been matched with a beautiful boy in Romania, Romania closed it's doors to international adoption.  Romania had promised already matched parents that their adoptions could still hold firm, yet after visits to country, visits to DC and meetings with even the Prime Minister of Romania, they discovered that they adoption process was not going to go through.  

Heartbroken and devastated from the loss of a child, after official word had arrived a snowy morning, Jamie (M) received a call from a wonderful woman who was looking for a home for her  baby girl.  

Stepping Forth in Courage

From here a beautiful relationship formed.  And if you have ever met Jamie (M) than you know, that she is one of the kindest, most patient women that you will encounter.  Jamie (M) and Jamie (F) began to form a relationship with this woman.  They got to know her on a deeper level, and truly see the genuine love that she had for her child.  She truly wanted her child.  She wanted the best for her, but with no Father and not much of any family support in the picture, she was considering placing her child for adoption, so that her baby girl might have the best possible life she could.  And, she found that in the Fankhauser's.  And, in 2006, the Fankhauser family welcomed Ava into their family.  Jamie (M), Jamie (F), Brooke and Brianne were in love. They say that Ava was "born into their hearts" and I don't think could be any more accurate.  Ava's older sister's adored her.  Her Father and Mother lavished their love upon her.  She was and is treasured, and valued to be sure.  

Ava has had the amazing chance to meet her birth mother and her siblings. She knows that she in incredibly loved not only by her parents and family here, but also by her biological mother as well.  She is seen, heard, loved, safe, a breath of life to the Fankhauser family.  She truly is a ball of joy and delight.  Ava can tell you all the details of what is going on around her, and make you feel warm and treasured all at once.  She is a special one for sure, and the entire Fankhauser family knows they won a rare jewel the day she was born into their hearts, into their lives. 

And guys, can I just say what a need the world has for people like the Fankhauser's to be willing to bridge the gap for some of the mother's who feel they don't have other options.  Who feel overwhelmed, incapable, alone and scared.  I so appreciate the way in which they said yes to the call placed right in front of them, even admit some hard rejection.  Saying their small yes to their specific calling, thus changing not only Ava's life forever, but also their other two daughter's lives, and Ava's birthmother's life.  The affect ripples and the love is spread in the sacrifice of saying yes to the right yes before you.  

Rooted in Love 

I love the Fankhauser story and how they are so rooted in their love for Christ that they literally went to the ends of the earth trying to adopt their little boy from Romania, but when all fell through, they could continue to trust that God was good, that God had a plan and that He was preparing them for a different journey, still just as beautiful and more rewarding than they could ever imagine.   Not without struggles and heartache to be sure, but beautiful just the same.  And, something I find incredible, is the way the Lord worked over their situation.  As they were in the adoption process through Romania, they were able to provide their hopeful son with a foster family in the waiting process.  When items fell through with the Romanian government, even though Jamie (M) and Jamie (F) were not able to physically bring home their son, they could rest assured that he was well taken care of, within a loving family, and able to be out of the orphanage.  So, truly, they were able to bless two lives through the process.  What could have potentially been seen as a disaster, was used for good.  God had a plan through it all, and that is such a beautiful thing within adoption.  We are not anything miraculous, we just get to be a part of the plan He is setting forth before us, and go out and make ripples of love to the world.  Yes, it requires sacrifice, but the reward far outweighs it all. 

Advice to those who are seeking Adoption: 

The Fankhauser's suggest to anyone seeking adoption to first trust God.  Trust God in it all, no matter how hard.  Secondly, make sure you really are the right family.  Make sure you are adopting for the right reasons and out of a genuine heart.  Adoption is a life long journey, a life long commitment.  So although a huge blessing, there should be proper intentionality placed on it as well.  And finally, make sure everything is solid at home.  Adoption is a large transition.  It is a huge change, stretching family members, resources, time and attention.  Make sure the important relationships are in check before adding more to the mix.  Everything will run more smoothly in turn.


Letter to the Fankhauser's 

The evidences of grace run deep through you.  The beauty of peace washes over you.  You welcome with open arms and satisfy the desires of attention and worth.  You are each warm and kind.  You pay careful attention to love, and to love well.  There is a special connection, a unique gift woven into the fibers of your family.  Your love sinks deeper than just blood and duty, but rather stems out of gratitude, grace and goodness.  You rejoice in each other and smile at the days together.  You are uniquely crafted and yet perfectly designed as one.  You are the perfect fit, the amazing weave.  You are a treasured prize. 

Brooke- Goodness, your love for people and for your sisters runs deep.  You are truly a free-spirit with the kindest heart around.  You make sure everyone is taken care of, without wishing to be in the spotlight.  You are blooming right where you are planted, and the colors shine forth so brightly from the deep roots you have planted.  Keep watering my friend, for your impact to the people around you is a treasured gift. 

Brianne- Your joy, enthusiasm and rich love of hospitality is a so fun to be around.  You welcome those around you with open arms.  You see the incredible details in those around you, you speak truth over them, and rejoicing with them.  You love your husband so well, and have the sweetest compassion towards Ava. Your heart is pure and kind, and I am sure you always light up a room as you enter. 

Ava- Filled with every bit of love, compassion and joy.  You serve so well sweet girl, and pour yourself out for others.  You are this miracle gift to your family.  It is insane how much your parents and sisters (and Carson) dote over you.  You are incredible Ava.  Don't ever lose your spirit of curiosity, and wonder, as it is going to take you on some incredible adventures, and those around you will be blessed. 

Carson- Caring and humble.  You love Brianne so so well, and are truly are the best big brother to Ava I'm sure!! You serve well, and stand firm in tenderness.  You are thoughtful and generous with your words, your actions, and you are such a great fit for this family!  I know the Fankhauser's adore you! 

Jamie (F)- The Best Dad around.  I love how the girls joke with you, and the joy you bring to their faces.  They know that they are each delighted in by their Father.  And the way that you speak to and encourage and uplift Jamie (M) is the most beautiful thing.  Your children understand true love because of the way you treat your beautiful wife.  And you are such a shining example of leading in love and compassion, paving the way for peace within your home. You lead well and your children know their worth and value due to the way you have brought security and attention to them. 

Jamie (M)- There are some people in this life who are just innately special.  Who radiate a genuine sense of beauty about them.  Not by any standards of this world, but by far greater standards.  That of love, and joy, patience and kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  There is something so precious in the way you love on your girls, the way you watch over each person in your family, making sure they are taken care of, provided for.  You truly are the Mama Bear of the family, and I know your girls wouldn't want you any other way! 

Thank you guys so incredibly much for being willing to share your story with me! I know that this connection goes far beyond images taken at the beach, and I just feel incredibly grateful to have experienced the loving kindness of your story and relationship. Be blessed my friends! 



Also, just a little reminder that I have some HUGE news to share within my newsletter coming out on Oct. 1st.  Sign up below so that you don't miss out! 


Collision of Photography & Orphan Care through Back to School Mini Sessions: NW IN, TX, & KS


Collision of Photography & Orphan Care through Back to School Mini Sessions: NW IN, TX, & KS

Celebrating Back to School 

Hello Hello everyone!! So here we are and I am SO excited to announce my first ever partnership with KEFA Project  to be able to truly take one small action to affecting the orphan crisis I have been talking so much about lately.  

As I have been researching, learning, listening and praying over all that is happening within the orphan crisis around the world, one of the biggest things I keep coming back to is poverty.  Poverty has such a large affect on the orphan crisis in the world, because so many of these children that are brought to orphanages have loving, incredible parents, however they simply cannot provide for their family, and in order of the survival of their children they bring them to orphanages to allow them to simply have their needs met.  Now, this is not the story for every orphan, or even most possibly, but it is the story of many.  Many orphans are not truly orphans at all, they are simply a piece of a family struggling to make it financially and a lot of that happens to be cyclical. 


The Cycle of Poverty 

Because here is the thing, when a family is in poverty, they typically require their children to start working with them from a very young age to simply make ends meet and keep them from starvation.  Due to this, children are not going to school, not receiving an education, and thus less likely to have the opportunity to get a better paying job for themselves and their own families one day, and thus the cycle of poverty continues.  

And one of the reasons I chose to work with KEFA Project and something that they do SO incredibly well is family reconciliation.  I have seen it with my own eyes from my trip over last November.  And as I have spoken with Brian, the Head Director recently, they truly are making it a top priority to get all the children they are able to back into their homes with their biological families, where they can also help teach the families how to provide for themselves, while also restoring the natural bond that is there.  It is a beautiful picture of restoration and hope, and it is absolutely something I think changes the course of history, when we can get young street children back into their home environments when possible. 


How to Answer the Call?

So, what do we do with all of this information?  We pray and we meet practical needs.  The more I invest my heart and my eyes towards Jesus in this, I am so reminded that we must first meet the practical needs of these individuals.  If we say we "love the world" or "have a heart for the world" or "wish things could be different" and yet do nothing to practically meet the needs of others than our words do not line up with our actions. 

Now, I do want to also mention something here.  I grew up in a very strict church where I was taught the law of the Lord sometimes over the love of the Lord.  It took me a long time to understand the grace of Jesus, and to be honest it is something that I am still seeking to understand each day.  But that to say this.  We cannot help everyone.  And I do not even think "help" is the right word.  For truly, I see it as coming alongside an individual and saying "I see you, I believe in you, I know you have value and I want to help you to achieve some of your dreams, because you are worth it".  But, we are not saviors, we who have been richly blessed are no better than the poor.  We simply have been given resources into our hands, and I believe that it is our obligation to do SOMETHING good with our gifts.  BUT HEAR ME IN THIS, that does not mean that we must do EVERYTHING.  We cannot do it all, nor shall we do it all.  But, if you are not doing at least ONE thing to stand beside the poor of this world, I might ask your heart where you stand with advocating for the least of these?

Deutoronomy 15:11 states: "For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land."


Announcing Back to School Fall Mini Sessions that Give to KEFA Project!  

So, with all of this, I am really excited to share with you how you can practically answer this call to open our hands to our brothers and sisters.  How we can love others in need well! 

The beautiful collision of photography to meet the needs of some boys in Rwanda.  I will be offering MINI SESSIONS this fall, in which each session will directly sponsor a child in need!! I will be hosting mini session day events here in NW Indiana, as well as Texas and possibly KS and am willing to travel anywhere if there is interest, so don't hesitate to reach out!!  Because here is the thing, these kids are WORTH IT!!  This will be an opportunity for you to get some great images of you and your family together before the holidays as well as saying yes to being the hands and feet to those in need in the process!!  Completely amazing right?!  Each of these mini sessions will be directly aiding a child from KEFA Project to help in either education, food provisions or housing depending on what is the greatest need for each child!  

Here is the breakdown and absolute specifics:


Mini Session with Laura Duggleby Photography:

25 min session,

to include: 

20 digitally edited images

3- 5x7 prints.  

AND a print of your sponsor child!!!

(to consistently remind you of the child you have said yes to being a blessing to! )  

Cost: $150 -

($30 of each session is going DIRECTLY to KEFA Project, where the project director Brian Beckman and his staff will determine which of the 3 categories: education, food or living the money will go towards depending on the child's greatest need at this time). 




     times: Approx. 6:30AM, 7:00AM, 7:30AM, 8:00AM I 7:00PM, 7:30PM, 8:00PM, 8:30PM

DFW TEXAS- Sun. Oct. 8th

     times: Approx. 7:30AM, 8:00AM, 8:30AM, 9:00AM I 7:00PM, 7:30PM, 8:00PM, 8:30PM

Topeka/Kansas City, KANSAS- Tentatively NOV. 4th

     times: Approx. 8:00AM, 8:30AM, 9:00AM, 9:30AM


So guys, if you need Christmas card photos, now is the time!  If you just need some updates family portraits, now it the time!  If you simply want to help some kids be provided for, and get beautiful images in the process, now is the time!! 


Below I am listing ALL the boys that we are praying over and hoping to bless with $30 each through these mini sessions.  I will be advertising a name beside each time slot, however if you truly feel called to give to a certain boy, than by all means, let me know and we can make that happen!  Here are their stories.  Because as you also know I firmly believe that EVERY story matters! Let's show up for these young men.  


001 Bonane spent several years as a house boy and off and on the streets. He is an extremely talented soccer player and he was able to move into our academy at an older age. He has graduated with a degree in general mechanics and pursuing both a career in soccer and in mechanics. He is currently in our transition program that prepares the young men to leave the academy and be able to make a sustainable living and handle finances. 

002 Masta (Claude) grew up in a taxi park called Nyabugogo. He was famous for stealing bikes. Now at the academy, he is famous for soccer, rapping, and dancing. He is currently finishing his final year of primary school and excited to start secondary school.

003 Billgates (real name Jean De Dieu) came into our academy after it had been opened for two years. We brought him in the academy specifically so he could deal with a medical condition. This allowed him to focus on his soccer development and education. He is a leader of the other boys and frequently helps boys who are struggling make good decisions. He is in charge of training other boys to understand how to save money. He is currently studying computer science at university.

004 Alex’s mother and father died when he was young. When he moved with his brothers and sisters to the capital city of Kigali, he began associating with a street gang called the Marines. He left home and began using drugs and stealing. He entered into our academy when it opened and began to transform immediately. He was reconciled back with his family and excelled in school. He just completed vocational training school in panel beating (auto body repair) and has begun working in this field. His brother tells us, “I am so happy he is doing well now. I just love him so much.”

005 Eric is a bright young athlete who works hard, shares his faith with the community, and loves those younger than him well. We found him initially on the streets.

006. Noah grew up in poverty and was part of a street kids program. He was able to join the academy when it began. He is an extremely funny boy and one of the comedians of the academy – always making the other boys laugh. He was able to finish high school this past year with high marks. He is going to university and studying computer science.

007. Vama grew up in a taxi park called Nyabugogo. He is a massive soccer fan and can be found either jumping up and down when his teams (Real Madrid and Chelsea) are winning or bemoaning the loss when they are not. He has an infectious smile and is a bright student. He is currently finishing his final year of primary school.

009 Nana grew up in a poor family. He is a soft spoken boy. He is a quiet leader, one who does not stand out, but has a huge impact on the other boys. He has a huge smile, is a dedicated student, a dedicated athlete, and an all around positive influence on everyone at the academy. He has big dreams of playing soccer at university outside of Rwanda.

010 Gatari grew up on the streets. He was part of a gang called the Marines. They received their name from diving into raging water during the rainy season to retrieve items for people. He is extremely strong and loves younger kids. While at the academy, he even started his own team for younger boys. He graduated from vocational training school with an emphasis of general mechanics. He currently is playing soccer in Rwanda’s Professional Second Division and is working to find employment.

011 Etienne grew up on and off of the streets. He is a goalkeeper on the field and off the field can often be found creating many types of creative competitions for himself and his teammates. After winning, or losing, he will declare 'I AM THE CHAMPION.' He is currently helping to support his younger sister.

012 Olivier grew up in a poor family and is the younger brother of some of our first community athletes. He is one the leaders and spokesmen of all the boys at the academy. He is extremely talented at English and can even translate English now. He is a fearless goalkeeper. He gives other athletes wise advice and pushes them to be better people. He is currently studying telecommunications at University.

013 Laurent came from an extremely poor family. He entered into the academy when it began. He is an extremely sweet kid and loving of others. This past year he finished senior six in high school. He is currently studying hard so that he can go to university. He has a passion for graphic design and hopes to become a designer.

014 Focus lived on the streets at a taxi park called Nyabugogo. When we were working to start the academy, Focus was arrested and put in prison for living on the streets. We worked to get him released and moved into the academy. When he finally was able to move in he was extremely weak and sick. Of all the boys at the academy, I do not think a single boy has changed more from Focus. He changed from a boy who was extremely tough and unkind, to a boy who took care of others and we could rely on for anything. He finished vocational training school in panel beating (auto body repair). He is extremely passionate about this field and is looking for full-time employment.

015 Eric grew up off and on the streets. He is a very bright student and talented soccer player. He speaks English well and is studying hard in his final year of high school with hopes of playing and studying abroad. He has played at the highest level of soccer in Rwanda.

016 Bienvenue is a comedian in the academy. He loves to make others laugh and to be a showman – once you get to know him. He lived on the streets for a long time as part of a gang of kids.

017 No athlete is happier to be at the academy than Jean Claude. He is one of our top young athletes and is top of his class in school. He lived for one year on the streets before entering the academy.

018 Sostine is one of our youngest athletes at the academy. He lived on the streets from seven until early this year. He is doing great at school, has an infectious laugh, is a talented martial artist, and loves challenging older boys on the soccer field.

019 Sumayir is a ball of energy! He lived on the streets since the age of seven. He loves dancing, karate, and rapping. He is the most expressive kid at the academy and lives life with full passion.

020 Theogene is a mentor for the youngest boys at the academy as you can see from the picture. He left the academy for sometime and was back on the streets, but was able to come back rejoin our academy and is preparing to start vocational training. He is wise and cares well for others.

021 Jean de Dieu lived on the streets for many years before entering the academy. He was part of a gang of kids on the streets. Even while on the streets, he was sometimes able to attend school. He is currently top of his class in school.

022 Emile was the leader of a gang of kids on the streets. He protected the younger boys and looked after them. He loves life at the academy where he has made many friends, is attending school, and getting to be a kid.

023 Dushimwe is the youngest athlete at the academy and has the biggest smile in the world. He lived on the streets for several years. He loves to dance, to play soccer, and to wink at people.

024 Jean Baptiste is the newest athlete in our academy. He lived on and off of the streets and he came to our academy after being released from a youth detention center. He has a mischievous smile, is extremely smart, and loves jumping into anything that is happening at the academy.

025 Kamanayo lived on the streets at a taxi park called Nyabugogo. When we were working to start the academy Kamanayo was arrested and put in prison for living on the streets. We worked to get him released and moved into the academy. When he finally was able to move in he was extremely weak and sick. He flourished at the academy and completely transformed his life. He finished vocational training school with an emphasis in panel beating (auto body repair).  He is currently in our transition program and working to find employment.

026 Theoneste grew up spending a portion of his day at a landfill near his home. We met him when we started a team for boys in that landfill. He joined the academy when the academy started. He is a quiet, kind boy and is very intelligent. He immediately began to grow and change at the academy. He graduated from vocational training school with a degree in general mechanics. He is currently living in our transitional program and is looking for employment.


In Closing 

And let me say this finally friends,  this organization is the same I was blessed to be able to travel with last November.  I have had the privilege of meeting most of these boys and they are such good people.  They are kind and honest, and work hard.  They are loyal and genuine and just super fun to be around.  KEFA Project has done and extraordinary job with them and continues to  do so day in and day out as they lead up this next generation of men!!  If you choose to partner with us through getting some images taken this fall with me, you are going to be blessed.  For truly our joy resides as we give.  Let us give.  Let us do our part to share hope, to share our stories with them, as they so beautifully share theirs with us.  May we unify together as one body and support others around us.  For that is where beauty and the rich life exists.  This is helping prevent orphan care.  And that is love.  This is action.  This is grace.  

If you would like to book your session, please click below! 

Or if you would like more information on this amazing organization or how else you can further get involved with them, here is where you can find them: 

Thanks so much you guys!! Cannot wait to have you be a part of this amazing opportunity!! And please share this with family and friends so that we might be able to get ALL of these boys sponsored!!

~In rich expectancy and joy,