|"All Children Deserve a Family"|
There are over 425,000 children in foster care in the United States.
Over 100,000 need adoptive homes right now.
About 20,000 age out of foster care every year, at age 18 without anyone, to live on their own, unprepared and unsupported.
Can you change the life of a waiting child?
Can you adopt? Can you foster? Or maybe you can start a Heart Gallery or volunteer for one?
What is the Heart Gallery?
The Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care. The Heart Gallery of America is a collaborative project of over 80 Heart Galleries across the United States designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in our community.
Now, in its fifteenth year, the Heart Gallery model is being replicated in many communities across the country. Although many of our children were removed from abusive and neglectful situations, they still have hope. They love to laugh, to learn, and to be with their friends. Most of all, they dream of finding a forever family to be their own.
Photos That Change People's Lives (click below for video)
|Video courtesy of Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay|
—The Indiana Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit featuring compelling portraits of children in need of adoptive families, is stopping in Goshen. The Gallery will be featured at the Better World Books January 6 through January 20. The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) uses the Heart Gallery’s remarkable professional portraits and stories about foster children in Indiana to help put a face on a sometimes invisible need and remind families that adoption can change lives. There is no charge to see the Gallery. “On average we are actively recruiting adoptive homes for 120 – 150 youth statewide,” said Sandra Caesar, DCS’ adoption program manager. “Every child needs a family they can call their own. We need families that are not only willing to love our children, but are also prepared to commit to them, claim them as their own and hang in there through their ups and downs.”
he Indiana Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit featuring compelling portraits of children in need of adoptive families, is stopping in Cromwell. The gallery will be featured at the Noble County Public Library West branch in Cromwell Monday through Jan. 23. The Indiana Department of Child Services uses the gallery’s professional portraits and stories about foster children in Indiana to help put a face on a sometimes invisible need and remind families that adoption can change lives.
The Heart Gallery started its tour of El Dorado at College Avenue Church of Christ on Wednesday. Today it will be in the Union County Courthouse from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, look for the exhibit at the El Dorado Conference Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, it will be on display at PJ’s coffee shop and The Spot from 10 am to 8 pm.
The start of the new year brings many new beginnings, and for a local family of six, it marks a big milestone. 2017 will be the first full calendar year they share as an official family. The adoptions of three of their children were finalized in April of last year. But as our Marcella Lee shows us in our Adopt 8 success story, this family has already experienced a lifetime of love.
Amy, born June 2001 is a loving child who tries hard to please. She loves to play with baby dolls and Barbies. She is creative, having set up a special play area where she talks and pretends with dollies for hours. She also likes playing outside: swinging, climbing and running. She will dart here and there playing hide and seek. She also likes to play board games.
Attend a local, free information meeting and learn more about becoming a foster or adoptive parent! CYFD staff and foster parents will be available to provide information and answer questions about the process to become a licensed foster or adoptive parent at the following locations (click on city name to jump to a list of dates). Reservations are not necessary; just show up! Due to various scheduling and county training differences, it is recommended that families attend the information meetings in the counties in which they reside.
"The biggest challenges we have with adoption are public awareness and increased resources to find the right family for the child. Every child that we place for adoption has a set of unique needs." Living in foster care for more than ten years, 16-year-old Mae and her 17-year-old sister Ann are examples of some of the obstacles facing adoptive children. Many are 6 to 18 years of age with siblings who frequently want and need to be together in a single adoptive home. "If you ever decide to adopt me ... my sister is really important to me," said Mae, in a video for prospective adoptive parents. "When things get tough for you, you've got to be strong and hold on tight to your dreams and never let go."
Will, as he likes to be called, is a funny, sweet and friendly boy. He has brown eyes nestled behind framed glasses, brown hair and a fantastic smile! Will is very easygoing with both kids and adults. He loves animals and would do well with one of his own. He gets easily excited, but he does not like a lot of noise or crowded areas. Will loves video games! He is fanatical with anything directly related to "Minecraft" and "Super Mario Bros". He also enjoys singing along to music, playing mini-golf and riding his bike. Will has some contact with members of his birth family and would benefit from continuing these connections. The family for Will should be able to establish healthy and effective support systems for their entire family. He needs to be a part of a family that is predictable and accepting.
One little boy expressed his love for all kinds of hot dogs, while another showed off his modeling moves. A teen used a basketball to show off her hoop skills and dreams. Each youth became the star of his or her own show, in a sense. They recently became part of a mission to create videos of young people in the state foster care system.
Art, crafts and anything showing her creative side gets 11-year-old Annapatience excited. It’s a new year and she’s hoping 2017 rings in a new forever family for her. She went for a manicure and some nail talk at Bella Salon and our Jennifer Borget brings us her story.
There are hundreds of children in Alabama who need a forever home. They are in the foster care system. One of those children is Kenneth. He's 10-years-old. Kenneth enjoys drawing, singing, and learning to play instruments. He also enjoys church and learning about God.
The North Dakota Heart Gallery is a non-profit organization that was started in 2008 with a mission to reach out to the public and encourage the adoption of children waiting for forever homes. We begin the experience by enlisting the help of professional photographers throughout North Dakota. Through artistic photography, we showcase the child’s personality and spirit, showing potential families a glimpse inside a child’s heart.
The Cause: More than 300 charitable foodies dined on delicious culinary delights and wine during the fourth annual event held at The Galleria Fort Lauderdale. The Heart Gallery of Broward County raised nearly $65,000.
Six-year-old Robert and his five-year-old brother Christopher are as competitive as any sibling pair. Jennifer Borget talks to this energetic duo about no matter how different they are, the brothers want the same thing - a family that they can grow up in together.
They'll run down the stairs of their Bloomfield Township home this morning — 20 feet in footie pajamas, some tinier than others — rushing to see what Santa has brought. It's usually one gift per child, plus what's in their stockings. Santa has lots to deliver to the Paulateers, whose children range in age from 1 to 18 years old. A couple weeks before Christmas, Mekhi, 12, showed his dad a pair of socks he'd like, plus a pair of Nike Hyperdunk shoes, wireless earphones and pants with cuffs on the bottom. But it's not easy to come up with all the things on their wish lists.
AJ and Jay Lamaak run around the playground in Georgetown like young should do. "It feels good. It feels like I'm free," said six-year-old AJ. "It's delightful to see them be kids and not worry about where their next meal or where they are going to sleep," explained Cheryl Lamaak. Lamaak couldn't ask for more this Christmas. Hearing the word Mom will never get old. "It always lifts my spirits but my heart swells. I wasn't sure when I'd become a Mom. These two are the lights of my life," she said smiling. In 2014, CPS took the brothers from their home. The boys were placed in foster care and ended up in Lamaak's home.
Lianca Wilson has been in foster care since she lost her mother in a tragic car wreck when she was 11. Since then, she's just wanted to be part of a family, to feel like someone's daughter. Each year, the likelihood of achieving her dream seemed less likely, but Lianca had faith and kept praying. When she turns 18 on Christmas Day, she would officially "age out" and no longer be eligible for adoption. Her birthday easily could have been the end of a long-held hope. It won't be.
The holidays are a special time for families around the world, but for Alwin and Tarya Watson, each Christmas brings a new set of challenges and lots of smiling faces. Adoption has always been “in the books” for the Alexandria couple, who have opened their hearts and their home to children as foster parents for years. Growing up in a military family, Tarya “saw different family dynamics. It gave me a deeper understanding of the importance of a family.”
On the day he was adopted, the look on 3-year-old Michael Brown’s face truly said it all. Michael was placed with his third foster family, Tara Montgomery and her two daughters, on Feb. 14, 2015. He was 18 months old at the time. When the original plan for him to reunite with his biological mom fell through, her rights were severed, which meant Montgomery could adopt him. She told The Huffington Post she wasn’t initially considering adoption, but Michael changed her plans. “As a single parent, I was not looking to adopt, just to help kids during transition,” she said. “But that changed with Michael. It felt like he was a part of our family right from the start.” On Dec. 20, 2016, Montgomery officially adopted Michael in Phoenix. He had spent 832 days in foster care.
There's a need to find a special family for a special little girl. Five-year-old Akilah is currently living in a foster home, but it is time for her to transition into a permanent home. This little girl, of Samoan descent, deserves the unconditional love of a forever family. Her giggles are infectious, her sweet smile melts your heart. Akilah has been diagnosed with autism, and though she isn't able to speak, she finds other ways to communicate. "She is very expressive, she does not hesitate to grab you by the hand and guide or direct you to where she wants to go," said Jocelyn. "If we're looking in cabinets for food, she'll direct your arm where to go." Jocelyn has been Akilah's foster mom for the past year and a half and says Akilah is a loving and affectionate little girl.
There's a growing demand for people to open up their homes for foster kids in California. Officials say people who may think they wouldn't qualify actually could. "I hope they're content, I hope they're secure," said Kairis Chiaji of Natomas who qualified for a foster license years ago. After fostering several children, 9-year-old Ivory and 5-year-old Jacob moved in. "I really love this place," Ivory said about the house they live. Three years ago Arthur and Kairis Chiaji opened their doors to Ivory and her brother, first taking them in as foster kids and then ultimately adopted the two.
Some generous donations for youth at the Albert J. Solnit Center has warmed and brightened this chilly winter season for Connecticut teens hoping to be adopted. Two local businessmen and an anonymous donor presented gifts Tuesday to Solnit Center Superintendent Michelle Sarofin, including 10 mountain bikes and helmets, toys, gifts and large cash donations totalling more than $2,000. The gifts are truly appreciated, said Luis, 15, who lives at Solnit. "I'm very thankful there are people out there who think about us," said the soft-spoken young man who has lived at the north campus for 10 months. "It shows us that we are not forgotten."
Just days before his 18th birthday, Dylan Langley, a cheerful blonde-haired Essendon fanatic, was told to start "looking for a homeless shelter". A joyous day in the life of most young Australians is actually the most terrifying for thousands who live in foster care or an orphanage. It's the day they are evicted from care and forced to fend for themselves. Between the ages of 12 and 17, Dylan was shuffled between 20 different Victorian state care facilities. But at least he had a roof over his head. Since turning 18, he has been couch surfing, homeless and constantly on the move.
As many of you know, we recently adopted two beautiful daughters from the foster care system. But what you might not know is what started us on the path to decide to adopt from foster care. Well, long story short, I volunteer as a photographer for the local chapter of the Heart Gallery here in Palm Beach County, and kept falling in love with the kids I took pictures of. Each one of them had something that drew me to them – whether it was their beautiful smile, or their talent for making me laugh, or their desire to just be part of a family.
The caseworker called a second time, sounding more desperate. Jen O'Connell was preparing dinner in her Albany home when she answered the phone. She and her husband, Jim, were taking a break from fostering. Two kids in their care had been returned to their biological mother, and the O'Connell family was back down to four children. It just wasn’t the right time to take in another child and disrupt everyone's lives. "I don't know. Maybe we just want to take the summer off, and then we'll re-evaluate," Jen said during that call 18 months ago, promising to try to come up with another family that may be interested. But no one would take in a 3-year-old girl.
Just One More Gift: 15 Ways To Help Foster Kids This Holiday Season. My daughter handed me two candy canes tied together with a shoelace. In her other hand, she held a fistful of the money she's saved--$19. "I want to give this to orphans and to kids who don't have enough to eat or drink and no candy," she said. Grace is 5, she is adopted, and she is well aware that family extends beyond the people who brought you into this world. After a messy bout of gushing and tearing up at her big-heartedness, I got to work to look for organizations that can help foster kids and those in group homes. If anyone needs help from strangers, it's these kids--in 2015, there were over 400,000 kids in foster care. Some of them were reunited with their families. Only 53,000 were adopted. That leaves a lot of kids who need so many things.
Jen told us all about Adoption Rhode Island and their annually inspiring Heart Gallery which you can check out for yourselves. As Peter Cardi said, Cardi’s has been involved with Adoption Rhode Island for a long time now and is proud to continue that wonderful relationship helping so many in need.
Grab a bat, lace up your cleats, and you can quickly connect with Madison?EUR(TM)s heart and soul forever while enjoying the day on the field. Madison is a very energetic child who enjoys being involved in many activities. She is active in soccer and softball. When not on the field, Madison also enjoys playing card games such as "Memory" and "Go Fish." She also enjoys video games, watching TV, and Disney movies. Madison is a sweet and loving child who craves attention and enjoys being helpful. She will benefit from guidance and assistance to stay on task. She can become easily irritable, but she is learning ways to manage her behavior in a more positive way. Madison enjoys playing with other children, but also likes spending time alone. This outstanding child is affectionate and loving towards others. Madison looks forward to outings with her forever family, including going out to eat. Visit me at the Heart Gallery of North East Texas. View my video on KLTV7 "Gift of Love".
There are lots of agencies, including Heart Gallery of America, that list children who are waiting for a family. These lists are primarily intended for parents who have completed their home study and are looking for a child to adopt. In all cases, the child's primary social worker has given the listing agency permission to list the child as available for adoption. In almost all cases, you will be given a form or find instructions on how to reach that primary social worker. In most cases, the child has been determined by the courts to be legally free to be adopted, although the listing details vary in some states. If you find any legal listing of children not in our list, please let us know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We have found this program beneficial in finding families for our children. We ask that as you view the children, consider that they live in our communities. Respect their right to privacy, and be aware that they may attend school or church, or play at the local park with your children and relatives. The availability of their pictures leaves our children recognizable and vulnerable to negative attention. Although we strive to protect them, we need your help. Thank you!
© 2017 Heart Gallery of America, Inc.