By Jamie Worrall
Friday, November 17th was National Adoption Awareness Day, and so, at the suggestion of our friends at Heart Gallery I stopped by the California State Capitol building to listen as name after name after name of the 33,000 children currently in the California foster care system were spoken for. As the flyer for this annual event states, “Each year we pause our busy lives long enough to speak the names of thousands of California children who are waiting in foster care for a family that will love them and let them stay.” To get through the huge stack of names of California’s fostered youth this year took approximately six consecutive hours!
Behind the podium where each public official, legislative staff, adoptive/foster parent, or youth advocate stood to “give a voice to the voiceless” there were large portraits of Duivan age 7, Violet age 10, and brothers Carmelo age 9 and Xavier age 12. These full color, larger than life images were able to lend bright beautiful young faces to this somber event. These adorable little boys and girls are only identifiable by first name due to court order, but are available for adoption here in Sacramento county. The hope is, that one image may catch the eye of a prospective adoptive parent… or perhaps a sponsor, or a volunteer. The more visibility these children are given the greater the chance for them to “strike gold” or find their forever home.
Heart Gallery is a nonprofit here in Sacramento founded by Rosemary Papa in 2005, who together with Stephanie Lynch and Terry Kessler were inspired by the success of similar programs in New Mexico, New York City, and now in almost 100 other cities and regions throughout the United States. Heart Gallery and their volunteers photograph adoptable foster children with the same dignity and respect that professional photographers would give to a celebrity so that it truly captures the spirit and personality of each individual child. Otherwise, in the state’s adoption catalogues, adoptable children are represented by tiny snapshots and not given the space nor time to be unique. However, if you’ve ever believed in the power of a simple act of caring or the importance of art and color to inspire change, take a look at these photographs.
Heart Gallery has no brick and mortar location in which to display these hopeful faces. Current president Mary Tarro, with the help of two fellow officers, an active board and supportive friends-of-the-board work to fund and produce a dozen or so portraits each year which are professionally printed and mounted. From there the next task is to prominently display the portraits to increase awareness. And as we say in real estate it’s all about location, location, location! In this case visibility and a well-informed public ultimately lead to a greater percentage of successful adoptions. The stats speak for themselves. The Sacramento county kids who have been featured in our Heart Gallery so far total 160. 73 have since been adopted and these are exclusively children considered “harder to place” simply because they are older, members of a sibling group or have special needs.
If you are at all interested in becoming an adoptive parent in Sacramento County please get involved! There are adoption resources available or of course if you are interested in fostering or sponsoring but don’t know where to start check out the “contact us” page and let Heart Gallery help point you in the right direction!
There are also multiple events each year including the Spring Brunch, which is a great event to attend if you are interested in eating while getting to know more! It takes place at Plates Cafe Restaurant in May. Contact the Heart Gallery at 916.217.1552 to stay in the know! And at the very least, if this cause is a cause you believe in, please share via social media!!!