It’s been a big year for Alice and a lot of people have taken notice of her story and talent. Here are some of the questions that we’ve frequently been asked about her adoption and cosplays.
Alice’s Full Name: Alice Elizabeth Lewis
When did you adopt Alice?We met for the first time in late January of 2012, and she moved in with us two weeks later. Her adoption was finalized on July 10 of that year.
Why did you make the decision to adopt?
There are a lot of attributing factors to why my husband and I decided to adopt, but personally I never really pictured myself as a mother with a baby. I’ve never been one of those girls that oohs and ahhs over them. I figured that would kick in once I became an adult or got married, but it didn’t. I’ve always sort of joked that I didn’t get the mommy gene, but one day I came across a family’s blog
about the adoption of their daughter through the foster care system. It changed my life. We sent the family a message asking them about the process, and they invited us over for dinner and filled us in on the good, the bad, and the ugly of adopting through the state. We were warned that it was going to be a very emotional and difficult process but it sounded like the right thing for our family. We wanted to give an older child in need a forever home, so we immediately went home and got started on the paperwork. Wonderfully enough, the same couple that inspired us to adopt is also the couple that told us about Alice. She had the same caseworker as their two adopted kids and they thought we’d be a good fit. We’re very open about Alice’s adoption and she’s proud of it. When you’ve had six mother figures before the age of seven getting a permanent one is life changing in the best possible way. If one person gets inspired to adopt a child after reading or hearing about Alice’s story then it’s worth every negative comment from people who don’t understand our family and how we care for our daughter. Alice is very passionate about kids in foster care. She wants kids to know how great adoption can be and plans to adopt kids of her own when she grows up.
How old was Alice when she was adopted?
7 years old
What was Alice’s first name before she decided that she would like to change it?
At what point did Alice change her name?
It wasn’t our original intention to change her name. Although we wanted to be able to give our child a name of our own we’d been told that it might be hard for her to lose the one thing that still tied her to her birth family. We definitely didn’t want to make her feel like we wanted her to be a different person so we decided not to even suggest it. Once we had an adoption hearing scheduled we had Alice start practicing her new last name. She asked us if she could have a new first name as well. We asked her why she wanted a new name and she told us that she didn’t like the dramatic way people say her name. “It’s Destiny!”. She’d been through several homes that had promised to be her forever family, and she was continually told how she was destined to be there… and then they changed their minds. We weren’t expecting such a valid reason. I mean, most kids at some point would like to pick a new name, but hers now had a stigma to it - that she was destined for foster care. We purposefully didn’t bring it up again to see if it was just a fleeting thought, but she kept at it. Every day we went through various new name contenders, mostly from Disney princesses or relating to something sparkly. But then one day she decided she wanted to be Alice after Lewis Carroll’s beloved character. It stuck and she didn’t suggest another name after that. We suggested that she keep Destiny as her middle name in case she ever wanted to go back, but she didn’t want to. She asked me to give her a name as if I’d given birth to her. I told her that if she’d been born from me I would have given her my middle name, Elizabeth. She said that’s what she wanted hers to be, because I was now her mother. And so on July 10, 2012 she became Alice Elizabeth Lewis and a permanent part of our family. Forever, for always, and no matter what.
What is it about Alice in Wonderland that Alice enjoys so much? Does she have a favourite scene?
Alice’s words: “She’s curious and clumsy. I like when Alice is asking herself questions while she’s falling down the rabbit hole.” This response was followed by Alice pulling an imaginary teacup out of the air and talking to it in her “Alice” voice.
When did Alice first pose for a Cosplay photoshoot?
The first planned cosplay was Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Two weeks after she moved in with us we passed a dress while shopping, and Alice commented on how it looked like a Dorothy dress. I suggested that we do a photo shoot, and she was totally up for it. It was the first time she’d really posed for my camera as a model, and it was amazing. She immediately got into character and threw off little poses left and right without having to be prompted. She didn’t care that it was cold or super windy. She just became Dorothy.
When did you do the Alice in Wonderland cosplay?
We did the Alice in Wonderland cosplay in celebration of her 8th birthday and to showcase her new name. It was shot over several days and locations. The photographs of her in the room with the checkerboard floor were actually shot in the courthouse where she was adopted.
What made you decide to continue with more and more Cosplay photoshoots?
Alice is a very imaginative child. Playing make-believe is how she’s coped with all of the negative things she’s lived through. It’s just a natural part of her being now and cosplaying gives her a creative outlet to express herself and be whoever she wants to be. It’s her dream to become an actress.
What has been Alice’s favorite character that she has dressed up as so far and why?
Wonder Woman was her favorite cosplay because she got to wear a wig and do the super hero pose. Wonder Woman is one of her favorite super heroes, but Batman is #1.
Have you come across any difficulties on any of the projects?
The most extensive cosplay was Joan of Arc. We spent weeks researching her history and handcrafting the costume and props. Alice read a book about her and we watched a couple of movies for inspiration. We wanted to cover her story from start to finish and I knew it would be hard to find a setting for all of the different scenes. Fortunately we knew a sweet family that allowed us to shoot with their horses and helped us build a stake for the burning. They went above and beyond and I wouldn’t have been able to create those portraits without their generosity.
How long do the photoshoots usually take?
Most of the time is spent on preparation. Alice is a really good model so it doesn’t usually take a lot of time to get what we need in front of the camera. Some of the shoots are very impromptu occurrences. The Carrie cosplay was shot in our living room one night because we were bored and Alice wanted me to take her picture. I know a Stephen King character seems like an outrageous thing for your 9 year old daughter to be familiar with, but it’s because you don’t know her history. Alice watched a lot of horror movies with her birth family. She’s seen more scary movies than I have, and she loves them. It’s part of her past and reminds her of the people that were in it. There were a lot of behaviors Alice had to relearn once she was in foster care. Stopping her from watching creepy movies that don’t scare her was not important enough in the grand scheme of things to make that list. It’s something she did with her birth family that she misses.
Do you style Alice yourself?
It’s truly a joint effort. Once we’ve chosen a character we go shopping together to find all the right pieces to play the part. Thrift shops are our favorite. This is what we do for fun while spending time together, so Alice is involved in the whole process.
Where do the photoshoots usually take place?
As a photographer I prefer shooting in natural light, so the majority of our portraits are at various outdoor locations. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see us shooting on the side of the road.
Where do you find the props for the photoshoots?
I’ve been shooting creative portraits for many years so my prop collection was already quite extensive before Alice came into my life. If I don’t have what we need we usually craft it ourselves or find it thrifting. For the Coraline cosplay I made a doll from scraps of fabric I already had, and the dragonfly she wears is actually a barrette my mother gave to me when I was a little girl.
Have you got any plans for future photoshoots?
We just finished a Hit-Girl cosplay in celebration of Alice’s 10th birthday. We decided to take it a little further and shoot video as well, which we’re still in the process of filming. Chloë Grace Moretz is her favorite actress so Alice was super excited about playing her character and trying out some action stunts.
You can follow Alice’s adventures here: www.maliceofalice.com | Facebook | Instagram