By: Brittany Renee

I knew both of you when you were inside a belly, sheltered and protected. Just two boys who had names picked out for you. It is a joke that your combo nickname is ‘Huggie’ because it takes parts of each first name and puts them together. We’ve watched you grow into your individual names, make them your own, while also making ‘Huggie’ a reality where two friends eat popsicles together on hot summer nights, chase imaginary friends in the grass, and point out the moon in the sky. The rest of the world gets reduced to crickets and the sound of your laughs. I love the ‘Huggie’ reality, and I wish more people knew its sights and sounds.  

But, not enough people do. When I held each of you the first times, you were so new, and I whispered how the world could be anything you wanted it to be. I told you both, “Welcome.” 


As you’ve gotten older, I’ve repeatedly asked myself if I welcomed you to the right kind of world. 

One of you is my son. The other of you is my son’s best friend. When it comes to your worth as human beings, it shouldn’t matter which one of you holds which title. 

I’ve watched your feet grow and talked to you both about all the places they may take you. But for one of you, your feet may take you more places easier, quicker, and for the other, it may be harder, slower, even though your feet carry the same strong bodies, the same smart minds. Your paths may be very different, but you must walk together. 

I’ve watched your hair change from baby fuzz to the perfect contrast – bright platinum blonde on one head and dark spiral curls on the other. For both of you, your hair is part of who you are and people often comment on it. Some people may judge one of you based on how you wear your hair. But I’ll make sure you know it is beautiful.  


When you were both born, your eyes were still deciding what color they wanted to be – each of you starting out with deep, dark tones. Over time, I’ve seen what color your eyes were meant to be. One with cool blue eyes, and the other with warm brown. You will both see the world differently, not only through your colors but also your experiences. You will see things you wish you didn’t, but you will also see so many truly lovely things, like how love exists in all colors. I always hope your light and dark eyes grasp the beauty in themselves, easily see those who do not, and relentlessly demand more for yourselves. 

I’ve heard you both develop your voices from infant cries to toddler tantrums. One of you has a raspy voice, the other one is more chipmunk-like. I hope every single time you see or hear of an injustice those two voices become one, screaming into every corner of the world, hand in hand, shouting until your throats are raw, but your hearts are content.


Right now, as the world stands, one of you will be treated better than the other because your skin is lighter. That is unacceptable. Always and forever until the end of time. You will actively fight against this because you will know better. You will be taught that love is louder and bigger and better than hate. You will be taught that your actions have a ripple effect, and you will be conscious of who and what that ripple could eventually drown. You will be shown that ignorant silence has incalculable consequences, and conversely, the right words can make all the difference.

You will do better than people past. You will be better because of that boy beside you. You will be better because of ‘Huggie.’ 


To the families that participated, thank you for opening your hearts and allowing us to be safe in them. 

To Desert Rose Designs for donating the custom t-shirts, the boys felt special. And, we can’t say thank you enough for that. 

To the photographer who drove close to an hour and a half to capture these images at no cost, I wish more people were like you. Your heart holds the purest love. 

I want to know what you think about life. I imagine you’ve seen so much, some things you probably remember in exceptional detail and other things must have frayed edges. There have to be memories that are so vivid, and yet, maybe some you wish would have blurred with time. 

I think about all you’ve been a part of, all your heart has gone into, and how many times that heart has been broken. I wonder how high your hopes have gotten and how low your spirits may have dipped when life was inevitably unfair. 

I wonder how much the family has changed since you first came into it. You’ve seen so many new faces, whether they were born into this family or found themselves welcomed by you in a different way. You have heard baby cries, teenage drama, and adult uncertainty. And you’ve been there to comfort any and all, reassuring us as the one who has seen it, lived it before, and knows the way through. 

I am curious what holiday memory is your favorite, which birthday sticks out the most, and which anniversary present still means more than the rest. I think about if there is anything you would have done differently or if there is something you would like to do again. Or maybe you are a person who believes it all shakes out the way it is supposed to anyway. 

I wonder if when you look at me you see parts of your life, maybe the same challenges or similar moments of joy. I am guessing when you see my daughter, you see everything – all the firsts that lie ahead and the struggle that will come at times because as we all know, struggle does come. 

The difference is when the struggle comes for me or my daughter or anyone in our family who has been able to live with you, the struggle isn’t so bad because we’ve had you as the example. We’ve had your smile and your laugh breathing life into our family, building generations of love. 

I hope, one day, my daughter or my granddaughter or my great-granddaughter wonders about me. I hope she’s curious about the life I’ve led and all the things I’ve seen. It means I’ve influenced her. It means I’ve left a mark. It means I’ve lived a story worth retelling. 

Your story, well, it is in your smile, in the corners of your eyes, in the sound of your laughter, and I love every word.

Article by: Brittany Renee

Images by: NVS Photography

*The parties in the images are not related to the author of this piece and did not participate in the writing.

**The images are solely meant to add visual interest to the story.


You were different from the start. I saw signs that you were coming. Certain things started to go right; things that had been so unbelievably hard before. I remember going to the grocery store, just with a feeling I would get the call I had been waiting so long for – a baby girl needing a home. And then, my phone rang. Call it mother’s intuition. 

My world changed in that instant, like any woman who realizes she is going to become a mother. You know that you can never go back to the way you were before, but you also don’t want to.  

When I met you, you didn’t have a name. They called you Baby Girl. You were 6 pounds 10 ounces, but at a month old. You were born in July, yet I met you in August. I told myself a summer baby like that, you’d have the fire of the sun in your little soul. I was right, but I was also wrong because you were beyond what I imagined. You were more than I allowed myself to hope for, more than I could have dreamed. I knew I was your mother in that moment, at that hospital on that August day. And I knew I was going to give you a name as beautiful as you. 

Adopting a child is a process that can gut you, and usually does, multiple times over. It can feel impossible to get through. I would open my home and my heart, without hesitation but with secret hope, that this child would become part of my family, permanently. That did not always happen. It was vulnerability. It was an act of love. It was what I did to get you. 

I met you on August 5, 2018. I called you mine then, but on July 21, 2019, it became official. I didn’t need that to know you were my daughter. My soul knew that before I knew you. 

I planned your first birthday, knowing you were home now. Home. We had done it, together, falling in love as a family – the family we both wanted, needed, and deserved. The way it was always supposed to be. 

As your mother, there are so many things I hope to give you in your life. Family. Safety. Love. A sense of belonging. I will live every day trying to give you a world as beautiful as you. I can say, I was able to make good on one promise so far. I gave you a name as beautiful as you. 

I love you, Paisley Rose. 

Written by: Brittany Renee

Photographed by: NVS Photography