Motherhood, Adoption and why black lives matter - interview with photographer Abi Q

river Bennett (Photography Abiq)

Light and shadow. 

“Light comes from a light source such a sun, candle or light globe. Shadows are made when that light is blocked.” 

Abi, Wedding and Portrait Photographer from California, has trained her eye for capturing such light and shadow through her strong images of humanity by bringing light to the real life issues in the current state of the world. This is something she is also passionate about.

Abi sheds light on motherhood, raising three boys, two of which were adopted. She lives to educate adults and children about race while surrounding her children with art, toys and friends who will represent their heritage. And when injustice is raging in the shadows she calls it as it is. 

1. What was life like for you growing up? 

Oh man. I was raised the oldest of twelve, homeschooled and a pastor’s kid. We moved from New York to Virginia, to North Carolina, to Virginia before I was in High School, and lived in 15 different homes by the time I was eighteen. My Mom likes to redecorate. ;) To say it was a bit different then the normal up-bringing is an understatement, but it was good and fun, and left me not wanting to stay in one place too long, and always craving adventure. 

 2. With three gorgeous sons, two of which have been adopted - was adoption always the plan?

Yes! My family is mostly adopted, so when I started dating I knew I had to marry someone who felt the same way.

Ryan and I talked about it when we were eighteen, when we were newly dating. I knew if he wasn't into it, we wouldn't work out. Thank goodness he was in because I can't imagine my life without him!  

3. What does adoption really mean to you?

I'm not sure how to answer this one. Adoption has so many layers to it. It always involves loss and heartache and wishing for what could have been. This is so hard to watch as a mother, knowing you can't have both lives for your children, but wishing they could be with their first parents too - wishing that somehow in an alternate universe you could raise these babies alongside them together, as a multi-unit family. I think people so often think of adoption as a beautiful gift, and while I love my children with every fibre in my being, I also know that keeping families together is actually the better of the two options. At the same time, I can't imagine my life without them. My boys have changed me and made me a better person. 

4. Tell us about the day Finn came into your family?

We started our adoption process about two years before we got matched with Finn. We had countless papers to fill in and there was a lot of waiting. And then one day we're sitting eating popcorn and playing cards and I randomly checked my email and omg! there it was, an email from our lawyer. I freaked out. I don't even remember if I read it at first. The email basically said that they had gone to the orphanage in the west and there was a post-it note with our son’s name on our folder. Asiimwe, born April 2010.  Ryan and I ran around hugging each other, crying and freaking out. We started calling everyone to tell them - it was late and they were in bed but we didn’t care! I mean, we had a son! It was the most surreal experience. 

The first day I held him wasn't much different. We landed in Uganda and then went to his foster parent’s home where they literally just handed him to us and we took him back to our hostel.

 I remember just staring at his face in awe that this baby was mine, and I was his, and how big my heart felt at that moment. 

5. Stone was born not long after, what did you feel the moment he was placed in your arms?

Stone wasn't any different. I remember being surprised he was cute and thinking his eyelashes were the most beautiful things I'd ever seen. 

6. So then Indie came along, you now had three children two of which were babies the same age, life was obviously about to get wild. How did you and Ryan and even Finn handle such a huge change?

You know, the first year or so it wasn't that hard. I would just wear Indie everywhere we went. I carried Stone on my hip and held Finn's hand. It worked for us. And both babies took two naps or more so Finn and I still had our afternoons alone. It felt easy for a while there and I was all, “damn I got this!” And then Indie started walking and getting into everything, and Stone chases him around the house screaming and they plot together and right now, it's madness. 

7. What's a normal day look like to you?

Stone wakes up screaming "MOMMMMM" at 7am on the dot. Or maybe even more like 6:30am right about now. If he ever sleeps in (which is like, once every six months) I go and check to make sure he's breathing.

Finn will sleep in until noon if I let him, and will be hiding under his blankets when I go in their room.

Indie will be sitting up, sucking his fingers and patiently waiting. Within seconds of his feet hitting the floor Stone is in the kitchen demanding breakfast. I've taken to making breakfast the night before, normally Oatmeal bakes or muffins and having them in the fridge ready to cook in the morning so the boys don't have to wait.

Normally I get up, throw it in the oven, start the coffee and then go get the boys out of their beds. Then it's breakfast, coffee, getting dressed, more coffee.

Normally now, we either leave to take Dad to work because we only have one car, and go adventure, or we wave goodbye to Dad and go outside to play.

Snacks, coffee, Lunch.

I literally feel like I spend all day feeding them and am so worried about when they're teenagers! They eat more then me already. It's a bit frightening! 

Today each boy ate strawberries, two oatmeal muffins, and two eggs for breakfast and still were hungry after! I mean, whattttt?

Anyways, nap-time is around 2pm and Stone and Indie still nap most of the time. Or they refuse to, and talk in their beds but I leave them in there for at least an hour with my fingers crossed hoping for a nap.

Finn will normally do something like play Legos while the boys nap or color, and I'll answer emails, or sort a wedding. Sometimes we watch a movie together and cuddle while I work, and sometimes we do a fun art project, or fold clothes and talk. Multi-tasking is my life.  We've been working on water coloring and it's really fun!

Then Ryan comes home, we eat dinner and read some books, the boys go to bed and we make drinks. Plural. I've been trying to get better about not working in the evenings and just hanging out with Ry, because adult time is crucial to a good marriage.  

8. What are some of the things that you want your boys to know?

I want them to know they are wanted. They are loved. And that I will always, always fight for them. 

No matter what injustice I see, I will always speak out on it. I will always address it. We have a race issue here in USA. And until our nation and the American people actually acts out “All men were created equal” I won’t stand down. I want to teach my boys that keeping quiet on these issues will never bring change. We must stand up, we must speak up. We must engage in conversations and be a voice for change. I want them to know their small acts impact more than they know. And solidarity, despite differences, is the only way for true change.

9. Recently you travelled to Iceland and photographed some pretty amazing scenery. It actually took my breath away. What is Iceland really like? How cold is it really? Is it somewhere you would like to visit again?

Ahhhhhh, Iceland was AMAZING!!!!!! Seriously I loved it. I can't wait to go back, and go explore the ice caves and stuff we couldn't go to because of the Volcanos. It was cold, but not bitter cold. It was liberating, exhilarating and so magical all in one. Iceland makes you feel alive. 

10. You also did a trip to Uganda. Tell us about your experience in Africa and its people.

Oh goodness. I love Uganda so much and I hadn't been back since we brought Finn home. The second I was off the plane I felt home. There's no other way to describe it. Uganda gets into your bones and your soul - the people, the food, the landscape. Everything. I can't wait to be walking down those red dirt roads again soon and I would move there tomorrow if I could. 

11. Favorite location to photograph?

Anything big and open and vast and able to run and be free.

Sand dunes is a top favorite. I'm not a fan of closed in spaced unless they're closed in in an interesting way, and cities stress me out more often than not. 

12. Who is your muse?

My boys. When I shoot a roll of them it helps me come alive and be inspired all over again. 

13. So Mother to three little men, wife and crazy talented photographer, how do you do it all?

Coffee and Gin. Really. And not always in that order. 




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