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'Newborn' 13-year-old: Mom explains viral photo

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Courtesy of Kelli Higgins

(Read caption) 'Newborn' 13-year-old Latrell Higgins (sitting in chair) with his seven brothers and sisters. Adopted when he was 11, he told his mom, Kelli Higgins, that he never had baby photos. So she posed him for baby photos and they went viral.

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As our family photos languish in dusty boxes, on memory cards, and in computers awaiting our attention, one mom in Florida has snapped our attention to the value of how our photo taking focuses love on our kids. Adoptive mom Kelli Higgins did a fun photo shoot with new son, Latrell, 13, as a “newborn” for a belated birth announcement and a whole lot of thinking has developed as a result.

Ms. Higgins, a professional photographer in Crestview, Fla., was already the natural mom of five who discovered as she and her husband finalized the adoption of Latrell and his biological sister Chanya, 7, two years ago that she was expecting another child. 

“That was certainly a surprise, but it was just another blessing,” Higgins told the Monitor in a phone interview. “We weren't adopting because we couldn't have babies, it was because I had always known in my heart I would adopt a child.”

Having taken adoption classes to make sure she could do the best job possible, this mom of eight came down to a simple plan, “I was just going to find an older child who was not getting adopted and give them all the love and attention they'd never had.”

Higgins added, “People are so afraid to adopt an older child, especially a boy. They're just children who have been through a bad time. They come to you with nothing. I mean really nothing, no history at all. No pictures of themselves as babies or anything."

So one day, when her 12-year-old daughter Alycia suggested recreating a photo shoot just for Latrell, they launched into it with gusto and giggles – never realizing just how vital what they were doing was for her son.

“We really just giggled our way through the whole shoot,” Higgins said. "Chanya has been in lots of my photo shoots, she's all over my pictures so she wasn't really as interested in having a baby picture as he was. But if she ever asks we'll do it for her too.”

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