As a photographer and mom to a 5-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, Stephanie Mullowney has been passionate about capturing photos of children with special needs for years. So much so, that she's dedicated much of her business — Paper Dolls Photography — to taking photos of kiddos with Down syndrome regularly.
While on one of her yearly tours in which she travels state to state to do sessions for families — donating a portion of her sales to various Down syndrome charities — she met the Roberts family and their sweet little boy, Eli, who also has Down syndrome. With her daughter Hannah Grace in tow, Stephanie took the Roberts up on their offer to stay with them for a few days during their trip. Little did Stephanie know, Eli and Hannah Grace would hit it off, but it wasn't all hugs and smiles at first.
"Hannah is an only child so she didn't want to share Eli's toys," Stephanie told POPSUGAR. "It was so funny to watch but she kept taking his toys away and running off with them just so he couldn't play with them. She didn't even want to play with them herself, she was just trying to get a reaction out of Eli."
"Rebecca and I will cherish these pictures forever, and hey, if they they end up ever getting married these are totally going to be hung up at their wedding!"
Despite the kids' sharing woes, Stephanie and Eli's mom, Rebecca, saw that there was a friendship and possibly a small "first crush" budding between their children, so Stephanie opted to capture the moment on camera. "We decided to do a little photo shoot with the two of them. Pre-engagement photos and such," joked Stephanie. "It took a while for Eli to warm up to her because she had been so funny to him before, so he didn't really want anything to do with her. Once he finally started interacting with her, Hannah Grace was so completely shy she didn't know what to do with herself."
Although the kids were definitely a little camera shy at first, the results of the photo shoot are beyond sweet. "It was the most adorable thing ever," explained Stephanie. "Rebecca and I will cherish these pictures forever, and hey, if they they end up ever getting married these are totally going to be hung up at their wedding!"
Read on to get a look at the adorable pictures that will surely bring a smile to your face in the name of young love.