A Brantford Park Family Session | The Leegstra Family

This will probably be one of the most meaningful family sessions I’ve ever done. But this blog post isn’t about me, it’s about Julia and Rob and their three gorgeous kids at this beautiful Brantford Park family session. Meet Melvin, Mckenna and Evan, three of the sweetest kiddos I’ve met. Melvin and Mckenna were so loving towards their little brother and it was a pleasure to capture those memories for their parents. Mommy raised Evan’s arms, saying, “I’m thiiiiiiiis big!” and it made not just Evan giggle. He loves his Daddy’s voice, which was very noticeable as well.


Let me tell you a little bit about Evan. He’s born only a few weeks later than our little Stella, but a whole lot bigger. And he has a feeding tube. Evan has a condition called Canavan Disease. His parents didn’t even know about the condition when he was born. Only a short while later, the doctor started noticing things weren’t going exactly as they should. His head was much bigger than it should be, and an ultrasound showed a dark spot on his brain. Three months later, after many tests at the hospital, including genetics, etc., he was diagnosed with Canavan Disease.

Canavan is a neurological disorder characterized by the degeneration of white matter in the brain. Evan is missing the enzyme which helps control the white matter in his brain. This, in turn, affects how his brain sends messages to different parts of his body. To this day, Evan is mentally younger than a 3-month-old. Which means he doesn’t understand a lot, but it’s so amazing to see how he responds to his family. He loves to be sung to, tickled, and anything that would make a baby smile.


Melvin and Mckenna are two fun-loving kids who’ve had to live with the reality that they will not have their brother in their lives as long as most people do. But they take it all in stride, it seems, and have developed an understanding for Evan’s needs that surprised me. For their sibling photo, Melvin knew to hold Evan’s head up as he was not able to do so himself (you’ll see it below). And that made me think. I honestly think that this family, while this is beyond difficult, has been given a gift. A gift to take care of one of God’s special children. And for a child to be raised with that as a constant reminder, I can only imagine the amount of empathy and understanding and love for others they will grow up having.

These are Julia’s words: Since finding out that Evan has Canavan, our lives have changed so much. It’s hard to hear from a doctor that your child has a disease with no cure. That he won’t be the same as your other children. That he will have a lot of medical needs. [It means] you have to tell your other children that their brother is different than them. But in the heartache of it all the Lord has sustained us, and given us grace. As well as the support from our families and the church community. Now that it’s been over 2 years since we found out it is still very hard to think about some days but then you see him smile and laugh and it just melts your heart to see such joy in his face. 


Rob and Julia, I cannot imagine your life with all its busyness, the pain and the uncertainty. But I can see the love you have for all your children, and it warmed my heart. Rob, it was absolutely amazing to hear how strong you are in your belief that God meant for Evan to be in your life this way. And that you are still so outspokenly strong in your pro-life views, especially when it comes to medical personnel. And Julia, there are just no words. Just admiration. You had the time to spend on the phone with me to plan this session. You planned your outfits. And you even replied to all my questions about what it is like having a little man like Evan. God has given you grace, patience, and so much love towards your family. You may not always see it. You have your tough days, I’m sure you do. But in the end, you know there’s a God up in Heaven who knows all your needs. And at the end of the day, it’s only with His help that we are given this life.
God Bless.

This Brantford Park family session was not the only session I captured this evening. I also had the pleasure of photographing THIS FAMILY, but will not be posting a blog post right now as it was hot and there were several little mishaps that meant we are in for a reshoot in August. Maybe later!!!

I have to say that this location in the middle of Brantford reminded me a little of a different field in the middle of London (as seen in Dylan & Sandra’s family session). Sometimes you’d be surprised at the locations some of my sessions are held! I managed to trick you into thinking we’re in the middle of the country, didn’t I?

  1. Judy says:

    This brought tears to my eyes as I read it… God bless you Rob and Julia… your children are so precious and beautiful!
    Love, aunt Judy ❤️

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