Rising Above, Dorothy and Jae's Unique Engagement Story

 
All Photographs by Ann Hoang of Anny. Photography

Dorothy and Jae wanted their engagement session to be a depiction of their journey; to tell without words the beauty and truth of their story. So when they decided to hike up a mountain and it started raining, it couldn’t have been any more perfect.

Dorothy and Jae grew up in the same town in Maryland. They attended the same church, and lived just down the street from each other. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that they truly connected. A group of friends from their church would go bowling every week, and it was here that Dorothy fell in love with Jae’s sense of humor and they began dating.

Dorothy and Jae have a unique story, but it is no less beautiful. They didn’t follow the traditional steps of dating, marriage, then starting a family. They started their family before marriage. It was a difficult and trying time in their lives. Their church community and families struggled to support them.

Looking back, Dorothy can see how God was with her during that time. The environment she grew up in is conservative, and nothing like her situation had ever happened in the church before. Dorothy says, “Not many people knew that abortion was one of our options, and at one point, I found myself sitting in an abortion clinic. God was slowly stripping away everything that was important to us until we had no one, nothing. We couldn’t turn to our family, our church community struggled to embrace us, and our lives just weren’t ready for a baby.”

Not many people knew that abortion was one of our options, and at one point, I found myself sitting in an abortion clinic. God was slowly stripping away everything that was important to us until we had no one, nothing. We couldn’t turn to our family, our church community struggled to embrace us, and our lives just weren’t ready for a baby.
— Dorothy

It was during the first few months of their pregnancy that Dorothy came to truly rely on God. “It was a time of hard reflection for me. I had never been stripped away like that before. I just opened my Bible and started reading, it was the first time I ever found comfort in that. When I would read the Bible before, I was just reading words. It never really struck me. This time I felt peace. I was waiting for God to show me what His plans were for us.”

Dorothy and Jae gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Noah. And though the process has not been easy, it has been redemptive. Their families and church community have embraced Dorothy, Jae, and Noah. And every single day, Noah is teaching them and their families about love and grace. Dorothy says, “I can really see the way God is using Noah at our church. It’s still ongoing, the way our faith is growing.”

Dorothy and Jae’s story is only just beginning. They are still learning, still growing, still owning their own story and not shying away from it. Dorothy and Jae felt it was time to voice what they went through. They want others to know they aren’t alone; that there is still beauty and grace in the messy middle, if only we open our eyes and hearts to see it.

202A2393.jpg

As for their future, Jae recently enlisted in the Army, and Dorothy and Jae are excited to begin their new life outside of Maryland after the wedding. Jae will be gone for training for 8 months before the wedding and Dorothy is looking forward to reuniting with Jae, setting off on a new adventure together. Having lived in Maryland their whole lives, their hopes are set on Colorado. They’re looking forward to the mountains and the open air, the peace and serenity found in nature.

The ability to persevere, to struggle and still know life is good, to continue on despite the overwhelming odds, is at the core of humanity. To believe there is still hope. This is the story that Dorothy and Jae are living, that no matter the circumstances, there is always hope.

Full Image Gallery

Full Story Credits: Photography by Ann Hoang of Anny. Photography Dress from Free People Florals by Wild Green Yonder