The True Definition of Family is Love

What constitutes a family? What makes a person a parent? Is it because they share the same genes? Or is it simply because they have unconditional love for this tiny little being who have entered their world?

Chris and Sarah proves that LOVE, unconditional love, is what makes a family. The two met in January of 2011 at a California gay bar back when Chris still went by the name Crystal. Sarah, who had dated women before and was familiar with the LGBTQ community, said she “had never actually known a transgender person before meeting Chris”. She had recently gone through a divorce and was hesitant to get in to a relationship again, especially with a transgender. “I couldn’t figure out how to tell my mom, ‘I got married, I got divorced, then I dated a girl, and now I’m dating a trans guy,’” she explains. It was definitely a precarious situation, but like in all great love stories, the heart wants what the heart wants and there was no stopping the chemistry growing between Chris and Sarah.

Their love quickly blossomed and they soon realized they had found their person in each other. Chris is 8 years younger than Sarah and was finishing up his construction college degree as they started talking about marriage. Sarah’s only stipulation was that he would finish up his degree before they got married. However, as Sarah was approaching her mid 30s already she was also eager to have a child. So in 2015, before their wedding, she went through fertility testing and got the all clear to proceed with finding a sperm donor.

What is a father?

“Sarah really focused on finding a donor that was Native American, Hispanic, and a creative, like me,” Chris said. They found their perfect match and only on their second attempt at intrauterine insemination they had a positive pregnancy test. Elated Chris and Sarah couldn’t wait to welcome their baby in to their family. However, as the pregnancy progressed Chris struggled with feeling the connection to the baby. While the pregnancy brought him close to his wife, he still didn’t feel as a soon-to-be father.

That all changed as baby Sullivan was delivered and Chris was asked to cut the cord. He finally realized what it felt like to be a father. To hold your child in your arms for the very first time. As Sarah was sleeping off her anesthesia, it was time for Chris to get skin-to-skin with his son. “With a little bit of panic but so much excitement, I rushed to pull off my shirt, and the nurse placed this little warm human being on my chest and he just laid nestled in to my neck. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks, and the words that came out of my mouth were, ‘We’re going to be best friends, you’re my little guy.’ That moment with him eliminated all the uncertainty I had ever felt,” says Chris.

Needless to say, one can be an absolutely wonderful parent even without being blood related. A parent is something you choose to be, and Chris decided that he was going to be the very best parent and father this baby could’ve ever wished for.

Making the decision to have a second child.

As Sullivan grew older and Chris and Sarah embraced parenthood they talked about having a second child. When I met with Sarah she told me that there was only one way she would have a second child, if the sperm donor was the same as for her first child. “I wanted my children to be fully biological siblings so this was a deal breaker for me.”

I remember her telling me how they contacted the center from which the original sperm donor was found and how they realized there was only one more vial of sperm left. Chris and Sarah decided to give it a try. When you go through in vitro it isn’t very common that it takes on the first try. But Sarah said that if it was meant to be it would work.

And wouldn’t you know, the sperm took on the first try and once again the couple saw a positive pregnancy test. 9 months later Sullivan’s baby brother Fisher Hayes was welcomed to the world right before 4th of July.

I couldn’t be more elated to have been introduced to this family, to have the privilege to hear their story and the honor to be able to capture these very important moments in their family’s life. Baby Fisher came to the studio, close to 9lbs, with the most beautiful skin, rolls galore and the cutest little snore. He slept like a little angel throughout his entire session and I was able to capture some absolutely beautiful images of this little guy and his parents. He will shortly be back for his 3 month session and the next year will be spend getting to watch this little guy grow up and getting to know this family more and more as time progress.