When babies are born with special needs, their parents are understandably frightened and overwhelmed. Though well-meaning, friends and family may be at a loss as to how to react to a newborn’s diagnosis. Instead of congratulations, parents of babies with disabilities or serious medical conditions are often greeted with expressions of sorrow and pity.
Baby photographer Angela Forker of New Haven, Indiana, understands that regardless of the pain and fear that new parents may experience when their babies are born with serious health challenges, there is also joy and pride.
Forker saw this first hand, when a couple in her church received a frightening diagnosis during the woman’s pregnancy. The baby was diagnosed with a severe form of holoprosencephaly and was not expected to survive the pregnancy. Miraculously, baby Madalyn was born alive and lived for 15 days. As Forker writes on her website, “While she may have looked different than other people’s babies, it didn’t even phase her parents. All they saw was Madalyn’s unique, captivating beauty. They adored their baby girl! When she was born, they wrote on their Facebook page, ‘She is perfect!’ They cherished every moment they had with her.”
The experience of Madalyn’s birth and her parent’s response to their critically ill baby inspired Forker to start the Precious Baby Project. The project comprises what Forker calls ‘Baby ImaginArt scenes.’ “These scenes feature babies as beautiful works of art, or as doing impossible things,” she writes. “My motto for my Baby ImaginArt scenes is ‘ANYthing is possible!’”
Forker says she began the project “to spread hope and raise awareness for babies with special needs as I take stunning and/or fun photos of babies with various medical needs. I want to show the world that every baby is precious!”
Instead of trying to hide babies’ disabilities or any necessary medical equipment such as tubes or wires, Forker incorporates them into her photographic scenes. Before each photo shoot, she consults with the parents, to learn about their baby’s medical needs and to choose a theme for the ImaginArt scene. For example, a baby girl named Ellis Rose, was photographed surrounded by roses, while a baby boy named Elijah who has Crouzon syndrome, a craniofacial disorder that necessitates the use of a trach tube and helmet, was photographed as an astronaut in space.
To participate in the Precious Baby Project, parents must be local to the New Haven, Indiana area or willing to travel to Forker’s home studio there. They must meet certain guidelines which can be viewed on her website. If chosen, families will receive two free digital images of their babies including one photo of their baby’s ImaginArt scene. For more information about Forker and to see photos of the Precious Baby Project, visit preciousbabyphotography.com/precious-baby-project.