Little Ellis Rose Wilkinson and other babies had their disabilities and special needs showcased during a whimsical photo shoot.
The 13-month-old from Cincinnati, Ohio, was transformed into a forget-me-not fairy during her session with Angela Forker of Precious Baby Photography.
“I knew that I couldn’t make it through that session without crying,” Forker told InsideEdition.com.
In the scene, Ellis was photographed in a fairy costume surrounded by roses and hearts, flying above a lavender field.
“As I thought about a scene for their baby, it was important to me to create something that would help them remember her life,” Forker said. “Her name is Ellis Rose, so I incorporated roses.
"She is such a blessing to her family, so I thought it would be special to have her watering love wherever she goes. And of course, she is a forget-me-not fairy because even though she may be leaving them soon, she will never be forgotten.”
However, it was the more personal touches that made the whole experience more special to her parents, Connor and Gabi Wilkinson .
“Ellis is not only movement and ability impaired, she’s also visually impaired [and] doesn’t really respond to anything but lights and the color red,” Connor, 25, told InsideEdition.com. “[Forker] incorporated red – that’s the main color on [Ellis’] spectrum that she can see. She had set it up to make it look like she was flying – she had movement.”
Forker also left Ellis’ feeding tube exposed in the costume.
“That’s a part of Ellis, and it’s something that we want to show off,” her mom Gabi, 27, told InsideEdition.com. “We’re proud of that and how healthy it’s made her.”
The Wilkinsons also have two other children, 3-year-old Audrey and 2-and-a-half-year-old Abram.
They explained they were in the process of adopting Abram from an agency that specializes in special needs children when their social worker reached out and asked if they were also open to also taking home a newborn that would be discharged from the NICU in the next few days.
“All we knew about her was that she was premature and had a rough pregnancy and delivery and was currently on a NG [nasogastric] tube but that was coming out, and that she needed a home,” Connor said. “Her birth parents picked us.”
Within two days of the approval, they met Ellis’ biological parents and took their newborn home.
After the first couple weeks, it became clear she had other medical conditions, including brain damage, severe cerebral palsy, cortical visual impairment and a rare seizure disorder.
As her diagnoses racked up, Ellis’ life expectancy began to decline, Connor said.
“For kids like Ellis that are severely affected, it doesn’t take much to cause a lot of havoc or disruption with her system,” he explained. “She’s not going to live a typical lifespan.”
When some doctors and hospice staff estimated Ellis may only live for a couple more months or years, the Wilkinsons decided to reach out to Forker for some portraits. They explained they haven’t been able to do newborn shoots since Ellis’ health was so poor when she first came to their home, and hoped to make some memories with their youngest to help their son Abram, who has autism and cerebral palsy, cope with her eventual death.
“Kids like Ellis have so many opportunities taken away from them because of her inability to move and engage in typical play,” Gabi said. “Anytime we can give any normalcy to her, it’s really great for us to see that.”