|"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|
For the these four Sundays, Forest Park Christian Church in Tulsa will host a traveling display from the Oklahoma Heart Gallery. This is an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the need for permanent families for children who are in the custody of the Department of Human Services and are available for adoption. Generally, they feature older children, sibling groups and children with disabilities as they have the most difficulty finding permanent homes.
Be Mine 2017: All You Need is Love is a highly anticipated annual event featuring unique entertainment, interactive characters, photo scenes, delicious food and open bars. Just before Valentine’s Day, Be Mine features a love-inspired silent auction, a high-end live auction and a moving program sharing stories of adoption and the power of love. From 60’s-Mod-British Invasion to the 70’s psychedelic hippie movement, the Beatles will help make this a night to remember! Let’s Come Together to ensure every local foster child finds their forever family.
In Arkansas? Take the first step: find out! The first step is to attend a CALL Informational Meeting for prospective Foster and Adoptive Families, but also for anyone who wants to volunteer with or support The CALL in any way. An Info Meeting is an excellent way to get an overview of the process, to hear from current foster and adoptive parents, to learn about volunteer opportunities, to get all of your questions answered, and to start the paperwork process, if you so decide. Info Meetings are held regularly in The CALL counties.
Even when it's deemed in the best interest of a child, being removed from the only home they've known is one of the most traumatic experiences a young child can experience. Having safe and loving foster homes for those children is essential for their adjustment while their parents work on improving their own lives to gain back custody, or until the children are adopted into new families. However, there aren't enough licensed foster families in Mississippi to meet the growing need.
Alan and Aden are young boys of Caucasian and Hispanic descent. They are living apart and looking to be reunited in an adoptive home. Alan is an active 9-year-old boy who enjoys riding his bicycle and engaging in other outdoor activities. He is a sports fan and especially likes basketball and football.
Finding a good home for foster children in Florida. That's the goal of One Church One Child of Florida. The organization hosted its' first gala, hoping to bring awareness to children who are less fortunate in the community. One Church One Child of Florida helps with adoption related services. WCTV's Shonda Knight was there for Friday's gala. Families were honored for adopting children from foster care. Officials with the organization say at any given time, 800 kids are up for adoption in Florida. "They grow better, in families as apposed to being left to themselves or just left in foster care," said Arie Sailor with One Church One Child of Florida. " It's more important that they have a permanent home and this will be their forever family and they won't ever have to move again."
There are hundreds of children in Alabama in the foster care system who need a forever home. One of those children is Myranda. She is described as artistic. Myranda loves to read, draw, and paint. She is very hopeful that she will find her forever family.
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.
When my partner and I began our adoption journey two years ago, we were terrified of fostering. We were scared of getting too attached and of having to give a child back. They're valid fears, especially if you've struggled to start your own family or don't yet have kids. However, 18 months later, we not only have a daughter who is ours and fully adopted, we've fostered four babies. You might be surprised to learn that fostering was just as big a blessing to our family as adoption. There are things no one tells you about being a foster parent, but I'm more than happy to.
When children are placed in foster care, the goal is to reunify them with their biological families, but when that isn't possible many foster families choose to adopt the child they've taken in and become their forever family. "Every child deserves loving arms, whether it's for a day, a week or a lifetime," said Angela. And that's exactly what Angela and Chris have provided for more than a dozen children.
There is a shortage of foster homes in Oklahoma. DHS spokesperson Katelynn Burns said the state agency is fighting a never-ending battle to recruit new foster homes as others phase out of the system or hit capacity. As of November, there were 9,598 children in state custody, with 444 in Cleveland County. While it may seem like a losing battle, based on statistics from the last five years, DHS is, in many ways, turning the tide in the war to help Oklahoma's most vulnerable children. "We've always had a need for more foster families," Burns said. "The number of kids in care is on a downward trend, but we were up to over 11,000 kids in care at one point a couple of years ago. But there are so many kids in foster care that there’s always a need. Very few states have more foster families than children in state custody." DHS' goal for the current fiscal year, which ends July 31, is to approve 1,080 new foster homes.
The Heart Gallery of Iowa, featuring portraits of foster children, made its way to the Newton YMCA this month and will be displayed at the Newton Public Library next month. It's rather easy to overlook the portraits of children and teens at the entryway, and it's even harder to know each child's story without digging a little deeper. The gallery is a part of Iowa Kids Net’s initiative to find foster and adoptive families for children across the state of Iowa who are in urgent situations. Children in the photos displayed have been selected by an adoption worker who needed assistance in finding an adoptive family, Ann Kopf, of Iowa Kids Net said. Kopf helps assist families in the eastern portion of the state, including Jasper County. "Basically the kids that we have that go into care are from the Department of Human Services or from juvenile court or are unable to remain with their birth families," Kopf said. "The majority of our kids are older kids, we typically don't get a newborn baby." Kopf said finding homes for teens is particularly harder, especially when sibling groups of three or four need homes — often times forcing the siblings to split up. "People get scared off by teens, but they want families too and they want commitment," Kopf said. "They are moving on with their life but they still need people to come home to as a safety net."
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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 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 email@example.com .
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.