I'm thrilled to share highlights from my first City of Refuge (COR) newborn session as part of HJP's new Giving Back program. Baby Jalen is as cute as can be (those cheeks!!) and his mother, Vanessa, was sweet to give me a peek into her life at City of Refuge - allowing me to learn about some of the challenges she has faced...and experience the intimate relationship she has with her son. After our shoot, I sat down with Vanessa to hear a little more about her story, and inspired, she kindly allowed me to share it here with you all... Vanessa, originally from Missouri, came to Atlanta with her brother. Out on her own and expecting a baby at age 17, landed at City of Refuge's Kindred Spirit Teen Pregnancy Home. Kindred Spirit exists "to assist homeless unwed pregnant teens or unwed pregnant teens that have limited family support [in a] loving, safe, Christian oriented home". It is a place where these girls can live in community throughout their pregnancies and as new moms - encouraging and uplifting one another through an incredible, but sometimes overwhelming journey. Having been raised by her grandparents, Vanessa has vowed to "be there for my child because my mother wasn't there for me." She is a strong, assertive momma with a fire in her heart for her son and the same hopes and dreams most parents have for their children: "My hope for [Jalen] is to grow up, go to college then get a wife." When asked about the future and motherhood, she responded, "I believe that I will be the best mother there can be for my baby....I want to finish school, go to college, and get a good job so I can focus on my baby. I hope that I can be there for him when he needs me, and to try and provide his every need." You go girl!! It's amazing to see God working in Vanessa and Jalen's life through each other...and the ministry of City of Refuge. I wish them all the best...and my prayers are going out every day. Enjoy highlights from this intimate newborn session with mom and baby.
All participants of HJP's Giving Back program receive complimentary newborn sessions, digital files, and a set of prints from Hayley Jo Photography. Learn more about this program here.
Kindred Spirit has been providing a loving, safe, Christian oriented home for girls since 2004. To contribute financially to their work, visit their giving page (donations may be designated to the Kindred Spirit home).