Capturing adoption through family and photography

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BEVERLY – It was a typical busy morning at the Ebersole family household on Wednesday. Toddler Vera-lou was bouncing around while seven-week-old Lenox was being cradled by his mother.

Daniel and Brandi-lin Ebersole run a wedding photography business, but after their experiences with adoption, they are looking to expand to include taking pictures of adoption subjects.

“I maybe do tear up at times, but I am still able to get the shot,” said Daniel, who considers it an honor to be allowed to take adoption photographs. “It is not so difficult for me because I am able to participate in a legacy that the children will have for the rest of their lives.”


Vera-lou in her family’s apartment in Beverly, Mass. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Ebersole)

For Brandi-lin, who as a baby was adopted from South Korea by a family in Rochester, N.Y., taking the photographs is a life-affirming experience.

“As an adoptee it gives you more,” Brandi-lin said. “Anything that is tangible gives you more of your story because there is such a lost part of your story, at the beginning of your story. Anything that is a gain is a positive.”

Brandi-lin is part of a closed adoption; she doesn’t know who her birth parents are. There is still six months of her life that she doesn’t know who was looking after her and having those initial photographs of her landing in the airport meeting her parents is something she will always go back to.

“I remember being little and looking through them over and over again. It’s, like watching a video over, over, and over again because that’s my story,” said Brandi-lin. “That’s when I became a Wilkins.”

Daniel and Brandi-lin met while at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and even before they were engaged they talked about adding to their family through adoption.

“A lot of our friends started to get baby fever,” Brandi-lin said. “And I was like, I don’t really have baby fever, I have adoption fever!”


Vera-lou plays next to her new brother Lenox. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Ebersole)

They started the process of adopting their daughter Vera-lou in 2013 and consider themselves blessed because they were paired with a young couple from Texas within three weeks. Vera-lou’s birth mother was herself adopted out of foster care, so was aware of the gravity of the adoption process.

They both wanted to have an open process where Vera-lou could know her birth parents. The Ebersoles and Vera-lou’s birth parents have exchanged visits twice.

“In terms of the beginning of life, there’s a tragedy that happens where there is a huge loss for a birth mother and a birth father,” said Brandi-lin. “There is a loss of identity and belonging, but then there is a huge gain, the redemption factor, where the adoption family is able to have the gift of the child.”

Both Daniel and Brandi-lin were given the honor of being in the room during the birth of their adopted daughter. Months later, when a courtroom finalization of the adoption was held, they had a friend come along and take photographs for Vera-lou to hold onto as part of her life story.

Daniel hopes to capture the important moments for adoptees. He said, “Adoption is a continuous thing throughout life that will forever be a part of their identity.”

Now, they have had the pleasure of giving birth to their son, Lenox, who is seven weeks old.

“I look at him and there are unknowns as to whom he looks like or what he is like,” said Brandi-lin, observing that she hopes her daughter, as an adoptee, can have the same experience of giving birth to her own child. “It gets passed down from the start.”


Brandi-lin holds Vera-lou as a baby. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Ebersole)

They hope that other families consider adoption as a way to expand their families as well, because they believe adoption is a beautiful, yet complex way of celebrating life.

The addition of their son also brought some unwelcome questions to the family, such as will they love their daughter the same way as their son? Brandi-lin said she has had to grow some thick skin because she feels there are times when people infer that she might feel differently about the two children.

“With my son and daughter, their stories are just really different, but both are beautiful and equally celebrated,” Brandi-lin said. “I don’t see it as any harder or less enjoyable than the other. They are both our children and we love them both as our children.”

To read more about the Ebersole family, visit Brandi-lin’s blog at

You can contact the author Beth Treffeisen at [email protected] or @beth_treffeisen.