"Heart Gallery" portraits inspiring families to adopt - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

"Heart Gallery" portraits inspiring families to adopt

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They are pictures meant to tug at your heart strings, and they're on display right now in San Diego County adoptions' Heart Gallery, which is made possible by volunteer photographers. And, there is one local portrait photographer who is hoping her lens will lead to lifelong love for the foster children she has photographed.

They are portraits, that have no permanent place to hang, beautiful photos that no parent is sitting back right now to admire, because each one of these precious faces is still waiting to find a forever family - a place to call home.

"Just knowing that there are so many kids out there that need permanent homes is the greatest inspiration to me," said photographer Zeena Gregg.

Gregg is one of several local photographers who have captured beautiful images of these children, which will be displayed in San Diego County Adoption's Heart Gallery.

"My goal is to capture the essence of each child's personality," Gregg added. "Every child is unique, and so getting to know a little bit about their hopes and dreams for the future is what touches me."

And the hope is that these portraits will in turn touch those who are considering adoption. That they'll look into these eyes and won't be able to say no.

"That love at first sight where you look at a child and see a sparkle in their eyes and you see their smile. It makes you want to smile back at them," Gregg continued. "I think if you can imagine playing with that child and interacting with that child that's maybe the first step."

Gregg's gift is making children like Dauntea and Devon feel right at home, so she can showcase their personalities.

"I really look at them in the eye, make eye contact, talk to them, get them to relax, and I really get them comfortable with me," Gregg explained.

And perhaps Gregg is so successful, because she is an adoptive mom herself.

"I have three children. Two boys and a daughter who is adopted. She was adopted about eight years ago," Gregg said.

And though the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words' holds true, Gregg does offer some words of wisdom for prospective adoptive families, especially those who may already be parents.

"It's worth it. It's 100 percent worth it. Don't let those fears stop you. One of the best things I read when we were deciding whether to adopt was you're giving your other children the gift of a sibling, a lifelong sibling, because you'll be gone long before they will," Gregg said. "But they'll have each other. So I felt like I was giving my two boys a gift of a sister to have the rest of their lives. That was really something I thought long and hard about."

Never realizing, that years later, she'd be using her talents and skills to help other children find their forever homes.

"Being able to use my photography to give back is just truly amazing, knowing that the outcome could result in changing a child's life forever," Gregg noted.

In addition to Zeena Gregg, we would like to thank Shawn Houllis, Christine Vasquez, Lori Neely and all of the local photographers who have helped with the Heart Gallery through the years.

If you're interested in adopting from foster care, call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U to learn more about getting started.

Heart Gallery Locations

May 1-28, 2010
The Rock Church
2277 Rosecrans Street
San Diego, CA 92106

June 1-30, 2010
El Cajon Library
201 E. Douglas Ave.
El Cajon, CA 92020

August 2-31, 2010
Poway Library
13137 Poway Road
Poway, CA 92064

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