This project documents the surprise wedding-themed birthday of a twenty-five-year-old woman with Down syndrome.
It’s difficult not to notice Ricchina. When she and her mother Janice boarded the car on the broken down Amtrak train in Charlottesville bound for New York, we had been immobile for nearly four hours. Ricchina sat by the window with her elegant hand settled in her mother’s outreached palm and gazed outward.
The light on her face was soft and even. As the train finally departed and began swaying gently, she turned and smiled at her mother, then surprisingly at me. Only then was it apparent to me that she had Down Syndrome. Ricchina’s mother Janice is a pretty, extrovert from south Philly. The two of them had
recently returned to Philadelphia to live with Janice’s ninety-two-year-old mother, having retreated from Las Vegas after an unspeakable breakup. As we sat side by side, Janice struck up a lively conversation explaining to me that Ricchina was about to have her 25th birthday and that she dreamed of getting
Janice, who cleans houses in addition to two other jobs to make ends meet, was planning a surprise wedding-themed birthday party for Ricchina complete with a custom made gown, a rented hall to be stocked with adoring relatives, a limo, and all the wedding trappings, in an attempt to bring her daughter’s
dream to life. There is no groom. Ricchina depends on Janice for most things. It was my intention while documenting this story, to describe the complex bond that this mother and daughter nurture within one another. The photographs explore the challenging relationship between these two women and the caring
family members who support them.