Click For Hope

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Inspired by Love | Maria & Melody

Foster Care, Adoption, Forever Family, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

At the age of two I was taken away from my biological mother because of my brother, who was 14, molested me and for my mom being in prostitution at the time. So me and all my 12 brothers and sisters got taken away from my mom. DCSF separated us and put us in different foster homes. Each foster child has a goal, either to get adopted or be independent. Independent means that once you turn 18, DCSF puts you in this program called "Independent living" and they give you a thousand dollars every month and tell you to go be an adult with no help or resources. So the government decided that I would be in the independent program, so from the age of 2 to 18 I would be in foster care and I wouldn’t be able to get adopted because that wasn’t my goal. I was placed in multiple foster homes. Every foster home was very physically and verbally abusive, that’s why I moved around so much. Once you get older, its harder to stay in a foster home because the families want babies with no problems and I guess I had a lot of issues. Nothing was stable. I was constantly getting rejected by families and feeling alone. I became very angry and started hating everyone, especially myself and I hated my life. I had no friends at school because I would move a lot and that meant I had to transfer a lot. I wouldn’t put any effort in my academics because of moving so much I thought why even try if I’m not going to be here for long and that’s how it was. I would be in one school for a week and then transfer to the next. Once I entered high school, it was the worst. They would just pass me because I was in foster care. It messed me up because I never got to write a paper. As I entered my senior year I got a new case worker because I was about to turn 18. I was getting ready to transfer into the independent living program. My caseworkers name was Gloria and she was a Christian and she told me about God. She started taking me to the youth group at her church and by the third time of me going to youth group, I asked Jesus to come live in my heart and to forgive me from my sins. Ever since then, my life has never been the same. I graduated high school as a Christian, loving Jesus, but I was afraid because I was entering into “adulthood,” and getting ready to move on my own and be independent. Once I moved out, I had no help. They fired my old caseworker Gloria, so I had nobody and I remember crying in my first apartment saying, “Father I need you to become so real to me, help me please! I’m afraid of being alone, please help me, Jesus.” I got a phone call from one of my friend's mom and asked if I wanted to go to church with her and of course I said yes. I started going to Grace and Peace Community Church. It was a small church but that’s when I started learning so much more about God, and the more I started reading His word the more I was falling in love with Jesus. One of the things I would do a lot to make Jesus real in my life is I would go on dates with Jesus. I would get all dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant and ask for a table for 2. The waiter would tell me you look nice, are you waiting for your date to arrive and I would say my dates already here at the table sitting with me (lol the look on his face was priceless). I could say that Jesus became so real He was my everything. Even though I felt alone physically, spiritually I felt so beautiful, loved and accepted. My companionship with Him was very strong.  There was a woman from the church I attended who came up to me and said, "You know, you should start praying for your husband because in the word in Psalm 37:4 it says 'Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desire.'" I went home after service and I prayed to the Lord, well if you will give me my heart’s desire than I want parents and that started the journey of me praying for my parents. Once I turned 19 I met a women named Polly (she attended at Grace and Peace as well) and she was part of BreakDown, their goal is to break down society lies of love, sex and relationship through the performing arts. Well, she was looking for girls and guys who knew how to dance, sing, act or do spoken word. Since, I would sing and dance at my church, she asked me if I would like to be part of BreakDown. I said yes I would love too.I was in this group for 5 years and that’s where I met my leaders, Melody who then married her husband CD. They where the leaders for a season and then they left because they felt God was calling them to serve at their church. Around the time they left I was like 22 to 23 and I was still praying for my parents. I would remember going on dates and telling Jesus, "When is it going to happen." He said, "If I don’t give you parents, Maria, am I not enough?" I started to cry and I said, "Yes you are." He said, "Surrender that desire and trust me, I know what’s best." After that talk with Jesus I stopped praying for my parents and started putting my trust in Him even more and that was hard. Many nights I would cry myself to sleep thinking what is my purpose, who am I. I’m 24 now and still nothing’s changed everything is still the same, going to church, loving God and serving at my church, I’m still part of BreakDown,  but the people on our team were drifting away. Every year we would have retreats for every BreakDown team in the world and we would meet up and do performances and get an encouraging word from the speaker. It would be great like one big happy family. For the team in Chicago, this was our last retreat. So Melody contacted everyone on the team to see who wanted to go and I was the only one from my team that went. It was fun, it was just me Melody and her new born baby Jael. We all stayed in the same hotel room and with a curious look on Melody’s face she asked me “What’s your story, Maria?" I shared my entire story with her and then she got really emotional and she said wouldn’t that be cool if I was your mom and I said yes!!! That would be cool but nothing happened after that. The retreat was over, I went back home and she went back home to her family and everything was back to normal.  A woman from my church asked me if I wanted to go to a trip with her daughter to Puerto Rico (at the time I use to mentor her daughter) so I said, "Sure I’ll go." We went to Puerto Rico and it was great. It was my first time ever going and by the third day of being there, I received a phone call from CD, Melody’s husband, which was so weird because I never spoke to him before. We talked on the phone and he told me they had been praying for me. I was like okay thanks and then he asked me a question and said, “Maria you been on my heart and I wanted to ask you a question but I didn’t want to creep you. Would you give me the honor of being your dad and if you say yes, I would want you to come home and live with us? I would want to restore everything that the enemy has stolen.” I felt like time stopped, I couldn’t believe that this was happening, my hearts desire was to have parents. I was screaming all over the house and it was raining outside, so I took my friend out with me. I told her the Lord has given me parents and we started dancing in the rain. That was the best day of my life. I couldn’t believe it. I’m actually going to be part of a family that is my own.  On September 25, 2010 I became a Fabien, so my name is now Maria Isabella Fabien Salgado. My life now has never been the same, God has used my Dad to heal me from so many wounds of what men have done to me in the past when I was in foster care. The have been healed and restored from everything that the locust has eaten. Now I love going out and sharing my story because there is such freedom in sharing our stories. My favorite verse is Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor." He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

What would you tell someone who has a similar story:

There is hope! You were created with purpose, and you are called for greatness. There are great people out there that can be there for you, who will love you in the midst of the chaos and hurt. It's the choices that we make that will determine your future.

Hair and Makeup: Erica Alexis Artistry

Single Mom | My Mom

Single Parents, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Meet my beautiful mommy! I have been begging to photograph her for over a year now, but our calendars just never aligned. But I'm so excited that I finally was able to capture her beauty. As a single mom my whole life, I saw how much she had to sacrifice and give for my brother and I. Pampering herself really didn't exist much. We were her motivation to continue on with the long days, even when she was so tired. I remember in 7th grade moving into a town home to call our own, which is where she still resides. I finally had my own bedroom, which I was so excited about. I remember the excitement she had when got the keys to her house. I remember going shopping for a new bedroom set, and the pure joy she had when we finally found a set that I liked ( I was very picky). I'm forever grateful for all her sacrifices so I could have a good life. She is a huge inspiration to me, and taught me what it means to work hard to accomplish your goals and desires. However, now that we are adults and have moved on, I have pressed her with the question, "What are you passionate about?" For years she hasn't been able to answer that question, but now she has found a love for nail art and makeup...you should totally see her collection....it's huge! :) She watches Youtube tutorials like crazy, and enjoys doing my nails whenever I come over. I continue to encourage her to go after her passion, and hope that one day going back to school for her will become a reality.

I also can't fail to mention that she loves my girls!!! They call her "Lita," by her request. I joke around that she has parental weekend rights to them, b/c she has taken DK for the weekend ever since she turned one. I love to see her so involved in their lives, she spoils them like crazy! I guess that is the job of a grandma, huh? One Christmas season, while showing me the boxes of clothes she bought for DK (Savannah wasn't around yet) she said something that brought tears to my eyes....she said, "I know I couldn't have done this for you.....but I can now. It's like my second chance for all that I missed out on."

And so to all the single moms out there, it's never to late to go after your dreams. Where ever you are in your journey of single motherhood, know that you aren't alone. Just do the best that you can. Make the most of the time you have with them. Your kids will love you for it!

Hair and Makeup: Erica Alexis Artistry

Weight Loss Journey | Yanira

Weight Loss JourneyJasmine LopezComment

Please tell us about your story:

Growing up, I was never over weight. Even in High School I was a good weight (115lbs). I was always into sports and dance, I considered myself to be very active. I never worked out but up until about 18 my weight ended up taking a turn for the worse. The loss of my grandmother in May of 2000, took a big toll on me. I became an emotional eater and only found comfort in food. My boyfriend at the time, (who is now my husband :)) would tell me to stop eating out so much that he could tell I was gaining weight. I should have listened but since it was only a 10lbs difference at the time, I didn't see it as a big deal. On top of that I just had started college at Robert Morris University and I enrolled full-time. So being a full-time student and a full-time employee at a Law Firm, I had no time to eat healthy. I became addicted to fast foods, especially the caramel fraps at McDonald's, I drank two every day! The years passed and even though I was happy I had graduated from college and continued working at my Law Firm, I was still not happy with myself. I knew it was because I had gained so much weight. I tried signing up for a membership but always found excuses not to go. I became comfortable and complacent with the way I was and I almost had accepted that this was how my life was going to be now.

At the age of 26 I got married to my childhood sweetheart, who thankfully still loved me no matter what size I was. At the age of 27 I got pregnant with my first born son named Josiah. I thought to myself well if I breastfeed, I'll definitely lose the weight since I heard it burns over 500 calories. Thankfully, I was able to do it for 8 months but still I didn't see the results I wanted. I was so naive thinking I had to eat certain foods for the baby and being pregnant I ate whatever I wanted and told myself I would worry about it after I had the baby. What a rude awakening that was because at 30 years old I decided to weigh myself for the first time in years and the scale was not very nice to me, the scale said I was 173lbs. I cried, I felt horrible, like what kind of life am I living? I always knew I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to live long for my son and husband.  Diabetes runs high in my family and I told myself that I refuse to continue to allow myself to go in this direction. I had to make a change for myself and for my family. So determination was planted in my head and God would give me visions of me being and looking healthy, so now that my mind was set, my actions needed to follow. April 28th 2012, our Firm was having a seminar called Fit26. It was a health challenge that would take place for 26 days. Our Firm would pay half and we would pay the remaining $35. I decided to embark on this journey with my co-worker/friend Wendy and we decided to take a leap of faith and invest in ourselves. From that moment on, our lives have NEVER been the same. We followed the food program which was eliminating dairy, grains, sugar, wheat, and caffeine. You're probably thinking what's left to eat, well I'm glad you asked :) I decided to repeat the 26 days as doing it for a total of 3 months and that included veggies, protein and water. It was hard, the first 3 weeks were the hardest. I would get headaches, feel nauseous, and wanted to quit a few times but this time I was dedicated like never before and having a friend by my side to go on this journey with me gave me more motivation to continue. I wanted to not only do this for me, but for my family and friends that are all over weight and wanted to make a change but didn't have the tools or the right influence around them to make the change. I wanted to be someone's fitspiration :) During those 3 months, I took a few pictures, kept a weight log and also incorporated Cardio. I had been working at my company for 7 years and always new they had a mini gym but I just started using it. This gym has also been a blessing to my life, no membership fees, convenient and it doesn't interfere with my wifely or motherly duties. After the 3 months I started to incorporate almond milk and Ezekiel bread into my diet. I love dairy and I love carbs. Now that I have the knowledge, everything is in moderation. I've learned what to replace so I can have a variety of things to chose from. My church started a fit program called Storehouse Fit that was very motivating and helped me on this journey as well. This has been one of the best, hardest and most rewarding journey's of my life! I never liked running. Running 0.50 distance I would feel exasperated but little by little my endurance started building and in November I decided to enroll in a 15k race with my friend Wendy. That was one of the happiest days of my life! I was so proud of us being able to conquer 10 miles with the help of God. Not only did we finish the race but we came in an awesome time. I finished at 1 hour and 33 minutes, to God be the glory! 7 months later I've lost 50lbs!!! I am now 123 lbs and I feel great, I sleep better, I have more energy and I love eating right and working out, I can't see myself ever living without great nutrition or doing some kind of exercise. But I didn't do this all on my own, I definitely have to thank God first and for most, I would always repeat Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me". My husband for his encouragement. My Pastora and parents for always pushing me beyond my limits. My sister-in-law Rachel for always pushing me to join a race. I started doing 5k's with her last year and now she's pushing me to do a half marathon with her later this year! We'll see how that goes :) My friend Wendy for being my weight loss journey partner. I also want to thank my boss for buying me fruits and vegetables for Assistant day, it reminded me how soon I needed to start this journey. Last but not least, for my son who without him knowing pushed me to be the person I am today. Although my 50lbs goal has been reached, I definitely want to incorporate weight training so I'm excited to see what's in store for me next :)

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? *
It's important to put yourself as a priority. Stay dedicated, determined, driven and committed. You are your biggest competition, you never know what you are capable of until you push yourself to your limits. With God all things are possible!

Weight Loss Journey | Sami

Weight Loss JourneyJasmine LopezComment

Please share a bit of your story:

My entire life I was the chubby kid. I was the chubby kid in my family. My brother and sister were half my size. I heard my entire life nothing but negative comments about how I looked and my weight. I was called pretty much every name you can associate with someone being overweight. After you hear those comments your entire life, you tend to become harsh on the outside. I formed tough skin and tried to act like I didn't hear the comments people made or act like it didn't bother me, but on the inside it tore me up and I wanted nothing more than to be "skinny". My self-esteem and confidence were pretty much non existent. I had learned to never really deal with my emotions. I never told anyone what was wrong. I was the chubby friend all my friends. They were at least half my size so going out with them all the time always issued even more comments and whispers from people. Guys only paid attention to me if they wanted to talk to one of my friends. I never really had a boyfriend or really any guy in my life.

By the time I had got into college in '07 I had pretty much tried to accept that I was going to be big, that didn't change deep down that I didn't want to be fat anymore. My confidence and self esteem had got a little better in college as I tried to accept myself. Every year I would tell myself this was the year I would lose weight and start over, but it never happened. I stayed the same every year. When my brother got engaged and my soon-to-be sister in law asked me to be in the wedding I told myself I would be skinny for their wedding. Well their wedding rolled around and I was still wearing size 20 and weighing in around 260lbs. The heaviest I topped out at was 272, which is the Roman numerals on my right wrist, an everyday reminder of where I started. (I honestly don't even remember when I saw that number, I'm pretty sure it was my sophomore yr of college. I hated myself for getting that big and vowed to never weigh more than that) In 2012 I tried again to lose weight again and started educating myself on nutrition and the proper way to lose weight.

I had finally gotten too tired of being overweight. As a photographer, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep being overweight if I wanted to shoot weddings the rest of my life since I was dead tired for 2 days after a wedding. My knees killed, my back was dead, I didn't want to walk because my feet would hurt so bad. I knew my body couldn't physically handle me being so overweight.

I had started cleaning up my diet in October of 2012, I cut out dairy and started adding more vegetables to my diet. I had always had a gym membership and luckily liked working out, but I still didn't see results.

It wasn't until the start of 2013 that I had gotten 100% serious. I bought a Groupon just before New Years for a boot camp. It was m/w/f at 6:30 in the morning ( I had gotten realistic with myself and realized I need to work out in the morning, I made too many excuses to not work out at night. I started choosing going out with friends instead of going to the gym). The boot camp was taught by an ex state trooper captain. Buying that Groupon was the best thing I did for myself. When I started the boot camp Dec 31, 2012, I weighed 255lbs. I had gotten serious about my diet. I had literally cut out all processed foods, most dairy, most bread/carbs. I started paying attention to what was in food and what those ingredients did to my body. I have PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) which already set me back and made it more difficult for me to lose weight, but once I cut out certain foods my weight went down every single Friday from January to July. I plateaued at about 207 from July until December. I did a 1 week juice to break my plateau and lost 10 more lbs. I'm not 100% where I want to be. But I'm trying to learn to be okay with who I am now.

2013 was an amazing year with getting healthy. The easy part is the physical health. I'm now dealing with the mental health. I still see myself as the girl who still weighs 260 lbs and not the girl who weighs 190 lbs and fits into a size 14.

I'm excited to see what 2014 brings to my life business and health wise. I go back to my doctor in April for a checkup and I'll have my pcos re-evaluated ( I was diagnosed with it in 2007 and haven't been re-evaluated since). I'm excited to have left 2013 behind and start 2014 with a positive outlook and a healthy mind.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?

Don't give up, keep going, even if you think it's not working. Trust the process and believe in yourself.