It was about 8 am when I was making my way up the 15 freeway to meet my friends Gabrielle Fox and Joel Navarro in the Fallbrook area. The radio was playing softly and my camera gear sat silently beside me. The heat blowing out at my feet was starting to warm me up while tears slowly fell down my cheeks. I’m writing to remind myself of that moment so that I can always hold that feeling inside me.

Several times a year Gabby, Joel and I meet up with Sherry and Jill of Riverside County Adoptions to photograph children in the foster care system for Riverside County’s Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit of fine art photography of kids in need of finding adoptive homes. The Heart Gallery focuses on children who are more difficult to place because they are older or are in sibling sets. We create beautiful, expressive portraits not only for the gallery but for the children to have when they are matched with their new families. You can learn more about the Heart Gallery, a national organization in over 40 states, by clicking here.

Maybe I was crying out of pity. I know that at least a few of those tears were out of gratitude. I have been blessed with the most amazing family. I didn’t deserve the childhood I had any more than these kids do. But I was lucky. And in that moment, I felt in the very core of me how lucky I was. I know that pity doesn’t make things happen.. it doesn’t change anything. Only action ever makes a difference. So I wiped pity off my cheeks and loaded my camera, my small way of acting, into Gabby’s car and smiled and laughed the rest of the way to Riverside. I was looking forward to a fun day with some amazingly strong children. I was looking forward to being even just the tiniest part of their stories. And I was also looking forward to picking up my parents at the airport later that evening for their winter visit to San Diego. My hope is that each of these children find that family that makes them feel so lucky to have.