When a Tennessee photographer’s daughter, aged 6, reached a meaningful milestone at school, the loving mother organized a touching photoshoot to ring in the occasion.
Stephanie Mullowney has long championed children with special needs through her company, Paperdolls Photography, and on the occasion of her daughter Hannah Grace’s kindergarten graduation, the little girl was the star of the shoot.
Hannah Grace, who has Down syndrome, dressed in a smart blue cap and gown, followed her mother into nature for a beautiful outdoor photoshoot. On May 22, Stephanie uploaded her favorite shots to the Paperdolls Photography Facebook page.
“You all know how important these pictures of my precious girl are,” Stephanie wrote, “because you know how far she’s come to be able to wear this cap and gown.”
In Hannah Grace’s beautiful photos, the excitable kindergarten graduate is pictured with a glittering balloon and confetti in the air. In one photo, she raises her fists to the sky in triumph; and in another, she prays sweetly, with her head bowed and hands clasped.
In the heartwarming post, Stephanie regaled living in Maui, Hawaii, while pregnant with Hannah Grace. Her doctor, she said, gave her the option to abort her baby based on the possibility of her having Down syndrome. Stephanie refused all testing and gave her doctor “a resounding ‘No.’”
Hannah Grace was born in the spring of 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. Stephanie, suddenly a single mom, struggled in the days and weeks following her baby’s birth, as her husband left them when Hannah Grace was just 5 days old.
“His exact words were, ‘Stephanie, our daughter is defective,’” Stephanie explained, sharing her story on Faith It. “My heart shattered into pieces.”
Stephanie knew she disagreed with her husband, seeing joy and value in her daughter from the very beginning. The besotted mom has watched her daughter go from strength to strength ever since, and kindergarten graduation was an added affirmation for both mom and daughter that Hannah Grace can do whatever she sets her mind to.
“[Hannah Grace] has overcome everything,” Stephanie told Popsugar. As an infant, severe heart defects threatened the baby girl’s life, but she survived. Growing up, she has also built upon her fine and gross motor skills, her speaking skills, and her sociability.
Bit by bit, Stephanie says, her daughter is overcoming “incredible shyness” and showing the world what she truly is.
Hannah Grace’s school also acknowledged their amazing student on graduation day with not one but two awards in honor of the 6-year-old’s achievements. Hannah Grace’s “sweet teacher,” Stephanie shared on her website, had arranged for Hannah Grace to receive the “Soaring Towards Success Award” for her hard work and the “Enthusiastic Praiser Award” for her enthusiastic contribution to prayer.
“My girl has defied all the odds and I will never stop believing in her amazing abilities,” Stephanie shared with Popsugar. “I have long muffled out the whispers of those who said ‘she can’t, she won’t, she’s not able.’”
“She is an overcomer,” Stephanie asserted, “she is loved, and I will celebrate every single milestone she overcomes because it is a big deal in our world.”
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