Dana and sofia’s story in Liepāja, latvia

Photographing for Orphan Outreach in Latvia – Capturing Grace on a 21 day journey through Sweden, Latvia, Ukraine, Moldova, Prague and France. 

As I sat across from Dana and her precious Sofia, hearing her story, I had questions I could not answer. How do you give, what you have never received? How do you celebrate when you have never been celebrated? How do you show love that you’ve never been shown. 

“my father hung himself while my mom was expecting me, my mom never stopped drinking so they placed me in a crisis center” 

Bounced from one foster family and crises center to another, Dana ran away from one foster home when the older daughter of the family bullied her beyond what she could bear. At the age of nineteen Dana gave birth to little Sofia and now Dana desires a better life for her daughter than what she herself experienced. 

Growing up, Dana had no template for being a mom, no example from childhood to pull from. Dana did have a picture in her mind, an experience that gave her hope and inspiration. In one of the orphanages she was placed in, they had a program that allowed her to stay a few months at a time with a host family in the US. 

This north Carolina family inspired Dana, providing an image of what a family is and can be. Some of her happiest memories are with this kind family that reflected God’s love to her. The love they showed planted a seed that is still growing, bearing fruit in the life of little Sofia. 

Thankfully, within weeks of Sofia’s birth, Dana found the Orphan Outreach Baby School and received the help and emotional support she needed to raise her baby girl. Before, Dana did not even know how to hold her baby, much less provide all of the needs a newborn requires.

Thanks to counseling provided by the psychologist at the Baby School, Dana has gained insight into her role as a mom and her responsibilities. She has found support and a sense of community with other moms, moms who want to write a different story for their children than the one they lived.

I have to tell you, seeing the needs here in this struggling community of Karosta, a former Soviet era navel base, breaks my heart. The drinking with no end, the drugs and abuse that work their way into the lives of future generations. Then, I spend time with Orphan Outreach’s Kristina and Aija and I see so much hope and promise. Lives can be changed, hope can be birthed in our hearts and cradled into existence, we only have to open our hearts and love people the way that God loves us, unconditionally. 

I invite you to learn more about Orphan Outreach and their life changing work in Latvia at https://www.orphanoutreach.co/countries-we-serve/latvia/

[Editors note – Last month,  I set off on a 21 day, 6 country European journey, Capturing Grace Capturing Grace in Sweden, Latvia, Ukraine, Moldova, Prague and France. I am now back at home in the US and giving these stories a save home on my blog]

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