MPW.65 / Trenton Getting Back the Life We Had by Ryan Dorgan
While Daniel helps Lynnsey dig through an empty lot in Trenton, Mo., for found objects, Lynnsey's four-year-old daughter Harley, left, keeps herself busy with a garden spade. Lynnsey began making art pieces using found objects as part of a rehabilitation program and hopes to start selling them to supplement the couple's income. RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 While Daniel helps Lynnsey dig through an empty lot in Trenton, Mo., for found objects, Lynnsey's four-year-old daughter Harley, left, keeps herself busy with a garden spade. Lynnsey began making art pieces using found objects as part of a rehabilitation program and hopes to start selling them to supplement the couple's income.
Lynnsey and Daniel share a gaze in the front yard of Daniel's family's home where the couple is living while working to get on their feet. "Our first year of marriage, we didn't even get to spend a lot of it together," Lynnsey said. "It was hard, but we made it." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Lynnsey and Daniel share a gaze in the front yard of Daniel's family's home where the couple is living while working to get on their feet. "Our first year of marriage, we didn't even get to spend a lot of it together," Lynnsey said. "It was hard, but we made it."
Harley looks back to Daniel and Lynnsey while walking to play at her elementary school playground. Lynnsey and Daniel recently began walking Harley home from preschool and spending their weekday afternoons together. RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Harley looks back to Daniel and Lynnsey while walking to play at her elementary school playground. Lynnsey and Daniel recently began walking Harley home from preschool and spending their weekday afternoons together.
"I was in a real rough place when I found out I was pregnant with her," Lynnsey said. "I've always said she's the only thing I ever did right. She saved my life." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 "I was in a real rough place when I found out I was pregnant with her," Lynnsey said. "I've always said she's the only thing I ever did right. She saved my life."
Lynnsey and Daniel spend time playing with Harley on her elementary school playground near the end of their day together. "Now it seems like we're not going anywhere," Daniel said, "but we are building a relationship back with our kid that we missed for the first year." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Lynnsey and Daniel spend time playing with Harley on her elementary school playground near the end of their day together. "Now it seems like we're not going anywhere," Daniel said, "but we are building a relationship back with our kid that we missed for the first year."
Daniel kisses Lynnsey while the couple waits in line to buy cigarettes at the Finish Line gas station. "I just want to leave," he said. "I just want to take my family and leave. There's nothing here." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Daniel kisses Lynnsey while the couple waits in line to buy cigarettes at the Finish Line gas station. "I just want to leave," he said. "I just want to take my family and leave. There's nothing here."
After being the butt of a joke, Lynnsey gives Daniel a hard glare while working on one of her found art pieces in Daniel's family's garage. Lynnsey began working on found object art pieces as part of a rehabilitation program and once Daniel's father Mike saw her work, he decided to clear out a corner in his garage which became her workshop space. RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 After being the butt of a joke, Lynnsey gives Daniel a hard glare while working on one of her found art pieces in Daniel's family's garage. Lynnsey began working on found object art pieces as part of a rehabilitation program and once Daniel's father Mike saw her work, he decided to clear out a corner in his garage which became her workshop space.
Harley's attention drifts while Lynnsey and Daniel share a kiss outside Daniel's family's home. " At first Harley had a rough time sharing her mommy," Lynnsey said. "He's been the only dad she's ever known, but she had to adjust to having to share." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Harley's attention drifts while Lynnsey and Daniel share a kiss outside Daniel's family's home. " At first Harley had a rough time sharing her mommy," Lynnsey said. "He's been the only dad she's ever known, but she had to adjust to having to share."
Harley offers Daniel a cigarette after pulling the pack out of a hiding spot in her mother's motorcycle. "You better not ever smoke cigarettes, Harv," Daniel said. "I'll make you eat tadpoles if you ever start smoking cigarettes." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Harley offers Daniel a cigarette after pulling the pack out of a hiding spot in her mother's motorcycle. "You better not ever smoke cigarettes, Harv," Daniel said. "I'll make you eat tadpoles if you ever start smoking cigarettes."
Harley talks with Lynnsey while Daniel takes a phone call outside his family's home. "This is our simple little life," Lynnsey said. "It's not much, but it makes us happy." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Harley talks with Lynnsey while Daniel takes a phone call outside his family's home. "This is our simple little life," Lynnsey said. "It's not much, but it makes us happy."
After being buckled into the back seat of her grandmother's Jeep, Harley says goodbye to Lynnsey outside Daniel's family's home. Harley has spent much of her life living with Lynnsey's mother and just recently began spending weekday afternoons with her mother and Daniel. RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 After being buckled into the back seat of her grandmother's Jeep, Harley says goodbye to Lynnsey outside Daniel's family's home. Harley has spent much of her life living with Lynnsey's mother and just recently began spending weekday afternoons with her mother and Daniel.
Harley's grandmother Mary Tredway tries to get Harley ready for a bedtime story inside Harley's bedroom at her home. "I finally decided it was a blessing - that God was giving me a chance to provide for someone else again," Mary said. "But I wonder how much of this is going to be hard on her down the road." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Harley's grandmother Mary Tredway tries to get Harley ready for a bedtime story inside Harley's bedroom at her home. "I finally decided it was a blessing - that God was giving me a chance to provide for someone else again," Mary said. "But I wonder how much of this is going to be hard on her down the road."
Lynnsey and Daniel walk back to Daniel's family's home after an afternoon with Harley. "We don't want a lot," Lynnsey said. "We just want to have the life we had back." RYAN DORGAN / MPW.65 Lynnsey and Daniel walk back to Daniel's family's home after an afternoon with Harley. "We don't want a lot," Lynnsey said. "We just want to have the life we had back."
Photographer
Ryan Dorgan Granger, Indiana
Team Lee

Recipient of the Biggest Leap Award
Story Summary

For a little while, Lynnsey and Daniel Betz and Lynnsey's four-year-old daughter Harley were together as a family.

The first year of Lynnsey and Daniel's still-fresh marriage was spent largely separate, in and out of incarceration, struggling with the constant battles that follow a troubled past. They lost their jobs, their home and their cars. They lost precious time with Harley.

As they work to reintegrate into each other's lives, Harley, too, finds herself in a period of change and transition. She spends her weekdays after school with her mother and stepfather, her nights at grandma's and weekends at her father's house in a nearby town.

Their personal struggles continue, but so does their dream of being a family. The pair asks for help from their own families while they take time to mend a dream put on hold.