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Interview With Kelle Hampton

Aired March 16, 2010 - 00:00:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kelle Hampton is a mother, photographer and blogger who writes about enjoying the small things in life -- baking cookies with her daughter, Lainey; taking trips to the park; and last year, preparing for the arrival of a new baby girl.

But when the baby arrived in January, the family was stunned to learn she had Down Syndrome -- a condition that causes a range of mental disabilities and health problems. On her blog, Kelle shares how she felt the moment she saw Nella for the first time and since then, how she's adjusted to having a child with special needs.

Her inspiring words and photos have resonated around the world. Messages and gifts have flooded in from strangers in Saudi Arabia and in New Zealand, from Brazil and Malaysia, just to name a few.

Touching the hearts of strangers she's never met half a world away, Kelle Hampton is your Connector of the Day.


FOSTER: And Kelle Hampton joins me now live from her home in Naples, in Florida, in the U.S.

Thank you so much for joining us.

There you are.

You -- so many people have read your blog, but for the -- the benefit of those people who haven't read your blog, there's a very powerful moment when you saw Nella for the first time.

Can you just take us through that?


It's still emotional to talk about it, but I knew the minute I saw her that she had Down Syndrome and it was just an immediate loss of what I thought I was going to have. It almost felt like the death of a child -- the death of a baby that I had dreamed of. And it was just pure shock, probably the first hour, I didn't even cry much. It was just -- just a shock to look at her and to think that was the baby that I was carrying for nine months.

FOSTER: And when did you, in a sense, get over the shock and realize what happened and start accepting it?

How long did that take?

HAMPTON: The night she was born, that evening, I was up all night and just wept and held her and it was an agonizing night. And I think when morning came the next day, it was literally with morning that the hope started to come and the support that we had and the beginning to bond with my daughter.

So it was definitely -- you know, it's still been a journey and we're still going through things, but literally it just took a day to really -- for it to sink in and to know that we could do this.

FOSTER: But then we get on to the core of your blog. And when you read it -- I mean we're talking about Down Syndrome now, but actually, your blog isn't about Down Syndrome, is it?

Although I can't really say what is about, but you probably are a better judge of describing what this blog is about, as you write it.

HAMPTON: It's just about life. We write what we do everyday. I've written -- since I've had my daughter -- the little things that we, from taking a picnic at the lake nearby our house to a cute pair of shoes I found on sale -- all the little things in life that inspire me, I've written about and I've written about (INAUDIBLE) before Nella came along.

FOSTER: Yes. And you've become an inspiration for so many people and they look to you for advice. It won't surprise you some of the e-mails that we've got coming in.

Katie (ph) asks: "What would you say to those considering terminating a pregnancy because the baby has Down Syndrome?

HAMPTON: That's something, you know, for us, it's hard for me to put that judgment on a person. I know that a lot of people, they know what they are capable of and they know what they can and can't do.

I would tell them, from going through this experience, to -- to read my blog, to talk to other parents. So many other parents with children with Down Syndrome have contacted me and I've worked up pictures of their lives and their children and -- and found that it's a -- it's not a bad thing, it's a blessing.

And in the seven weeks that we've had her, it has been no different than the seven weeks with my first daughter. It has been nothing but joy. And we know that there are challenges ahead, but I also know that every parent has challenges with your children, no matter what kind of children - - child they are.

FOSTER: It's such a powerful story.

"Do you ever worry that you're sharing too much on your blog?," Crystal (ph) wants to know.

HAMPTON: I do. I thought about that when -- we were shocked when the comments started coming in. I've always had a small readership and have always felt comfortable sharing. And when this started to go big and we realized all these comments that were coming in, how many people were hitting the Web site everyday, it's definitely something that I had thought about.

But 100 percent of the response has been that they take this story and they take it to their own lives. And so many people have told me I bought a camera today because of you. I started docu -- documenting my children's lives. I -- I let my house be musty, stained and sad and took time to really be with my children.

And when you hear that kind of news and know that you're inspiring, it really propels me to keep going and to do what I do everyday.

FOSTER: It's funny that you mentioned the camera there, because that's an interesting sidebar to this, isn't it?

And it's a question picked up by Kate (ph). She says: "So many of the photos on your site are so powerful and amazing. Did you go to school for photography and what kind of camera do you use?"

People have to see the -- the site to get this, don't they?

HAMPTON: Yes. And I -- I did not go to -- to school for photography. It's something I've always been interested in. And my skills have grown as I've done this. It's just a passion that I have. And it is -- it's come into play a lot with Nella, too. It's just constantly looking for beauty in life, whether it's through the camera or through your own eye.

And I will say, my photography, I think, has changed since Nella has been born. I find beauty in the most unexpected places. And I think that's probably the main thing about my photography is I try and have it as unposed as possible, but just to really capture children as they are. And I've found many ways that -- taking pictures has taught me to really see Nella's beauty, as well.

FOSTER: Yes. Well, your picture is frozen, actually, as we speak to you right now. We can still hear you, so I'll carry on for the moment.

Sarah (ph) wants to know...


FOSTER: -- "How do you continue to come up with fun and creative ways to spend time with your children?"

HAMPTON: I think that you can always look around and find something to do in your home. We do things with sidewalk chalk, with bubbles and reading books. It's just -- there's always something in your home that you can do with your child. They just want time. It doesn't matter. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. I think my -- my children inspire me more than I inspire them. And I think everyone can find moments that you can -- can give time to your children.

FOSTER: OK. Kelle Hampton, thank you so much for joining us.

It's an inspiring story.

I really do recommend you have a look at that blog, if you can.

Now, tomorrow, our Connector of the Day is one of the most powerful, the most famous housewives on television. Eva Longoria Parker shot to stardom playing Gabrielle Solis on "Desperate Housewives." But in real life, she devotes much of her -- her time to charity, specifically helping the Latino community.

And tomorrow, she'll be here in London answering your questions. So head to our Web site, (INAUDIBLE), and remember to tell us where you're writing in from. It is