OAW Session Qualifications & Process

On Angels’ Wings provides free photography sessions for families with a medically fragile child from maternity to 18 years.

Locations Served

At this time, OAW serves families in the following areas:

  • All of Missouri
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Grove, OK
  • Minneapolis, MN (launching 2023)

Qualification for Services

For the services OAW provides, a ‘medically fragile child’ has an illness or congenital disorder that may put the child’s life at risk; limit the child’s life expectancy; and require medications, treatments and/or specialized care or equipment. These serves are provided regardless of race, ethnicity, class status or orientation.

Services are provided from an in-utero diagnosis (maternity) to the child’s 18th year. Birth loss sessions are avaialble from 21 weeks gestation and later. NICU milestone sessions are for children born at 32 weeks gestation or earlier who will face an extended NICU stay. More details below.

There are many different diagnoses that may qualify — if you’re uncertain, simply contact us. A doctor’s note or further documentation may be necessary to confirm diagnosis. Diagnoses that qualify (but this is not an exhaustive list) may include:

  • Leukemia and other pediatric cancers
  • Congenital Heart Defect
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
  • Trisomy (13 and 18 for certain, and 21 if an accompanying medical condition puts the child at risk) 
  • Triploidy and other chromosomal abnormalities/deletions that put the child’s life at risk
  • Anencephaly
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Spina Bifida

We also provide photographs for children born at 32 weeks gestation or earlier to mark milestones while spending an extended time in the NICU, and for unexpected pregnancy loss 21 weeks into pregnancy and after. 

Types of Sessions

If you’ve received an in-utero diagnosis during your pregnancy that puts your unborn child’s life at risk, OAW will provide Maternity pictures and during/immediately following delivery pictures free of charge.

For those that present to labor and delivery only to hear the tragic words “there is no heartbeat,” the hospitals we work with will offer our services to you and a photographer can come within a couple hours of delivery for an Emergent Session to capture lasting images of your precious little one. These sessions are available for birth loss at 21 weeks gestation or later.

For children born at 32 weeks gestation or earlier and who will have an extended stay in the NICU, On Angels’ Wings will provide a free photo session at or around the following milestones (pending hospital approval): within a couple weeks of delivery; when designated hold times begin; upon extubation and/or upon bottle/breastfeeding. Those that receive one of the previous sessions in the NICU are also eligible for a NICU graduation/celebration session when they get to go home.

NICU sessions are also provided for babies when there is an increased risk of loss due to an underlying medical diagnosis, such as a heart condition or genetic disorder.

Journey sessions are provided for children who have a diagnosis/condition that causes them to be medically fragile, requiring ongoing treatments or medical equipment, frequent hospital stays/doctor visits, and/or isolation to avoid sickness. Sessions are provided annually, and prior to medical procedures that carry significant risk. We can provide sessions outdoors, in a studio or in your home, depending on your comfort level, desires and your child’s needs. 

Exclusively for recipients that received pictures through OAW during or following the loss of a child, OAW also provides Rainbow Baby Sessions — free maternity and newborn pictures (within the first month following birth) for a recipient family’s first child born after loss. This service is also provided to Journey session recipient families for their Sunshine Baby, a younger sibling to a medically fragile child.

How to Arrange Pictures

If you’re in the hospital for delivery or your child is in the NICU and qualifies, tell your nurse that you would like On Angels’ Wings to come in and provide pictures. Hospital staff will contact us to make arrangements. 

If you need to schedule a session in advance (for outdoors, in a studio, in your home or in the hospital when a child is there for an extended period/on-going care), please fill out the Session Request Form on our website. Our staff will then get availability from photographers in your service area and provide you with options within a week. We recommend providing availability for at least two weeks out from the date of request submission. 

Once we’ve found a photographer whose schedule works with yours, we will connect the two of you (via joint Facebook message or joint text) to finalize the details of the session, such as time and location. 

What Happens During a Session

Our photographer will arrive at the designated time and location wearing a Volunteer Photographer badge so you know it’s her/him. Our photographers volunteer their time and talents, which we value and, therefore, ask no more than an hour of their time for the session (except under extreme circumstances such as a delivery). All photographers must go through an application and approval process to make sure they can provide the high quality images our recipients deserve.

Our photographers are considerate and gentle with the circumstances your family is going through and will reflect that in the handling of your session. They may guide you to hold your child a certain way, or look at each other, etc. This guidance during the session will help them to give you the best possible images. 

A session release form is required for all sessions provided by On Angels’ Wings and must be completed by a parent/guardian for the qualifying child. Your form can be filled out up to 48 hours in advance, but must be filled out before you and the photographer part ways. Fortunately, you can fill out the Session Release Form right on our website.

Delivery of Pictures

Pictures are loaded to a password-protected online gallery. The gallery link and password are sent to the email address(es) provided on the Session Release Form within three weeks (21 days) following the date of the session. This provides enough time for the photographer to edit the pictures and for OAW to process the images and the gallery. 

Galleries are never closed and the images are never deleted. OAW keeps them indefinitely so that if you ever lose your copies, we can provide them to you again. 

Part of the OAW Family

The services that On Angels’ Wings provides do not stop after images are delivered. A critical part of our offerings is ongoing support as recipients cope with the ongoing needs and unknowns of a medically fragile child or with grief following child loss. Our Founder/Executive Director and Support Coordinator are both Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialists and the organization will start providing dedicated grief recovery services in fall 2021. 

We also have Facebook support groups available for our recipients (set to secret so no one but other On Angels’ Wings recipients are allowed in the group and no one can find them without an invitation from a group member — nor can they be added without OAW approval). Many of our families have found comfort in this safe place for expressing their struggles with fellow recipients who understand, at least better than most.

(mailing address)
4319 S National Ave, #218
Springfield, MO 65810

(physical address, by appt. only)
4032 W Lark Street, Suite D
Battlefield, MO

Non-Profit Tax ID No. 46-3112100

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