PARENTING
11/21/2016 04:50 pm ET Updated Nov 22, 2016

The Beautiful Story Of The Day These Parents Met Their Adopted Baby

So much love!
Jessie Fultz Photography

Krystal and Justin Fones, both 34, have 6- and 3-year-old biological daughters, and hoped to adopt a third child at some point years down the road.

But in the spring of 2015, that plan accelerated. Krystal learned that one of her family members was pregnant and was planning to pursue adoption. The birth mother’s baby ― a girl ― had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome in utero, and she knew she was not prepared to raise her.

Krystal and Justin didn’t hesitate.

“There was no thinking about this,” Krystal told The Huffington Post. “My heart was immediately there.”

She and Justin threw themselves into the adoption process ― something about which they knew almost nothing, they said. In June 2015, after a whirlwind process, the couple flew from California to North Carolina to attend the birth of their third baby girl.

Jessie Fultz, a North Carolina-based birth and family photographer, was on hand to capture the occasion. Although the hospital ultimately did not allow her in the operating room during the birth mother’s C-section, she was present immediately after. The emotional photos she captured provide an intimate peek at that incredible moment when a family grows in size and love.

  • Krystal: The birth mother had a scheduled C-section. Beforehand, the hospital told us that multiple people could be in the op
    Krystal: The birth mother had a scheduled C-section. Beforehand, the hospital told us that multiple people could be in the operating room, but on the day-of, it ended up just being me who was allowed in, while Justin waited.

    What I felt, during the C-section, was a strong sense of peace. It's funny, I know a lot of the time the birth mother was wanting to take care of my feelings, and I was wanting to take care of her feelings. The room was so sterile and cold, and the doctors were chit-chatting and doing their thing. I was sitting there next to her holding her hand and making sure that she was OK. I didn't have a C-section with either of our older girls, so I didn't know what to expect.
  • Krystal: The whole experience was so humbling. Here is this woman who just loved and cared for my daughter for nine mont
    Krystal: The whole experience was so humbling. Here is this woman who just loved and cared for my daughter for nine months, who grew her in her body, and she's strapped down to this table, going through this huge procedure and operation. I knew, and she knew, that after she wasn't going to be leaving with a child. It takes such a huge amount of self-sacrifice, and I just felt such tremendous respect and love for her.
  • Krystal: When Ruby came out, she was <i>screaming</i>. I remember looking up and being surprised because she seemed so big to
    Krystal: When Ruby came out, she was screaming. I remember looking up and being surprised because she seemed so big to me. She actually ended up being 7 pounds, 7 ounces, so not even that big, but she looked it. 

    They checked her vitals, and everything was perfect, and then they started wheeling her away to clean her up and everything. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. Do I stay with this woman who has just done this incredible thing, or do I go with the baby? I must have looked like a deer in headlights, because I looked back at the birth mother, and she looked at me and said, "Go fall in love with your daughter." I'm going to cry talking about it, but those words were such a gift to me. She couldn't have said anything more perfect in that moment, while she was still laying there. What a strong woman.
  • Krystal: They put her in a basinett and wheeled her into a room where we got to hold her and do our baby bonding. We had a bi
    Krystal: They put her in a basinett and wheeled her into a room where we got to hold her and do our baby bonding. We had a big group of family there to meet her. It was really emotional.
  • Krystal: We had prepped the girls really well, and we knew a lot of families who'd adopted, so it wasn't a new term for them.
    Krystal: We had prepped the girls really well, and we knew a lot of families who'd adopted, so it wasn't a new term for them. They really understood everything.
  • Krystal: Justin did skin-to-skin with her almost right away, and the girls got to meet her.&nbsp;
    Krystal: Justin did skin-to-skin with her almost right away, and the girls got to meet her. 
  • Krystal: They love her like crazy. Like, almost too much [laughs].
    Krystal: They love her like crazy. Like, almost too much [laughs].
  • Justin: She's such a cutie. I didn't necessarily know what to expect because of her Down Syndrome diagnosis, because it's a s
    Justin: She's such a cutie. I didn't necessarily know what to expect because of her Down Syndrome diagnosis, because it's a spectrum, but she's amazing. Ruby gets so excited about things. She gets the happiest looks on her face.
  • Krystal: Ruby amazes us. She's incredibly loving. She's almost a-year-and-a-half and she's definitely developing a little slo
    Krystal: Ruby amazes us. She's incredibly loving. She's almost a-year-and-a-half and she's definitely developing a little slower than would be typical, but we don't notice it. She has so much fun, and she always makes us laugh. Ruby blends in with our family perfectly.

These captions have been edited and condensed. 

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