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Single photo captures three generations, one extraordinary birth story

Heather Weaver and Chris Ambroziak knew they wanted to start a family one day.

Like so many other families, they hit one roadblock after another.

“I’ve known for a long time that if we were going to have kids, it would not come easy,” said Heather Weaver.

Their biggest hurdle was the fact that Heather has Polycystic Kidney Disease. Doctors said carrying her own child was too much of a health risk.

The couple looked into adoption in 2014, but they were told that they needed marital stability. In 2015, the couple got married. At that point, adoption agencies told the couple they would need to be married for a few years to show they have marital stability.

“At that point, it really took adoption off the table,” said Chris Ambroziak.

The couple was in a race against time. They wanted to start a family now, because within a year or two, Heather will likely need to start the process of finding a donor and getting a new kidney.

“I’m at 20 percent kidney function now and as that gradually continues to go down, we run the risk of trying to grow our family and trying to deal with a kidney transplant,” said Heather. “We didn’t want to overlap that. We wanted to have our family and then we would cross that hurdle of the kidney transplant later.”

At one point, the couple even posted a comment on Facebook, in hopes of eventually finding a surrogate. This was not easy to do, as Chris and Heather were a private couple and had kept their struggles to themselves.

The post caught the attention of Heather’s mother, Denise Weaver. She said it was hard to watch her daughter struggle to start a family.

What she did next, shocked everyone.

“I just casually mentioned to them, maybe I could do it,” recalled Denise.

Heather and Chris said there was no way they would allow the 52-year old to become their surrogate.

“My exact response was, no freaking way!” said Heather. “I didn’t even give it a second thought. You are 52! This is not going to happen. I’m sorry, but this is not going to happen.”

Several months went by before Heather and Chris talked about that conversation they had with Denise.

“I remember talking to Chris and I was like, should we consider her? Could my mom really do this?” said Heather.

“I don’t know if it was out of desperation or if they were flat out of options, but she came back to one day,” said Denise. “She said, you know when you said that a few months back? Were you really serious about it? “

“She also added, have you talked to dad?” said Denise.

From there, Heather said they dove in head first. She went to visit Heather’s doctor in Indianapolis to make sure Denise was fit and healthy enough to be a surrogate. Doctors were very encouraging and gave them the green light to move forward with In Vitro Fertilization Treatments.

Denise said the morning of the treatment, she had a talk with the doctor.

”I said she’s been through hell and back,” said Denise. “I don’t want her crushed. If this won’t happen, we will walk away now. I just didn’t want to put her through this.”

Denise said the doctors were very encouraging and told her it was going to work.

And it did.

The next month, Denise took the pregnancy test and confirmed the news with her local OB/GYN. She was pregnant.

Chris and Heather were cautiously optimistic. After several years of trying to start their family, it was hard to believe that they were one step closer to that dream.

“We tried to make this whole thing as normal for us as possible, because I wanted these memories and I wanted our (baby) book to be full,” said Heather.

Little did they know, a complete stranger would help them complete that baby book.

“Their message and their story rings so close to my heart because of what they are doing for each other,” said Lorrie Palmer.

When Lorrie heard the couple’s story, she knew something was special about this family. She had a specific vision in mind to capture their story.

The couple, as well as Denise, met Lorrie for a maternity shoot at a park in South Bend.

“I wanted the pictures to show the unconditional love that was there and the happiness that was brought out of a painful fact that heather was not able to carry her own child, “said Lorrie.

With their story in mind, Lorrie came up with a unique silhouette series.

“I wanted to be able to show Heather what she would look like if she were carrying this baby,” said Lorrie.

With Denise standing directly behind Heather, Lorrie captured a photo that would capture the attention of thousands of people.

“What you are seeing is only one person, but in reality, it’s a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter,” said Lorrie.

“It takes all three of us to make this happen and she captured all of that in one this one silhouette photo,” said Heather.

Heather said she used the image from Lorrie Ann Photography in Goshen to make their announcement on social media.

“How she presented it was so touching and so heartfelt,” said Heather.

“It had to be shown to other people,” said Lorrie. “This is how you can impact someone’s life. This is how you can choose to be. You can be loving and you can be understanding and compassionate. And you can sacrifice for other people and change the world,” said Lorrie.

Heather and Chris ‘ world was changed on October 22, 2016 when Addison Grace was born.

“If you think about all the women who are carrying their baby for nine months, feeling the heartbeat and everything for those nine months, I’m trying to capture all that in one moment,” said Heather. 

For now, Heather and Chris are enjoying every moment with Addison. They would eventually like to look into adoption again, but their next focus will be on finding Heather a donor and getting through a transplant.

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