Family / Family-building

Searching for Forever Families

PHOTO CREDIT: HEART GALLERY

PHOTO CREDIT: HEART GALLERY

The Heart Gallery was founded in New Mexico in 2001 by Diane Granito of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. Diane initially worked with photographer and adoptive parent Cathy Maier to take photos of children searching for a family. Later, she had the idea to take these portraits and exhibit them in galleries to raise awareness about the many kids in our foster system, often older or with siblings, who need loving “forever families” to adopt them. There are now Heart Galleries in 48 states across the country responsible for thousands of adoptions.

Earlier this month, The Times Square Museum and Visitors Center displayed professional portraits from The Heart Gallery NYC as part of a pride photography exhibit.  According to the Center for American Progress, 26% of kids who come out of the closet as LGBT are homeless, kicked out of their homes for their sexual or gender identities. It’s not as if the foster care system is some sort of safe haven, however. Just under 80% of LGBT youth that end up in foster care suffer bias and harassment from foster families who are intolerant and ill-equipped to embrace and support LGBT children. These kids are not the cherubic babies that many prospective parents imagine themselves raising from a young age. LGBT youth, often in their late teens, come with their own histories as well as the profound need for the safety and connection that has been denied them.

Laurie Sherman Graff, executive director of the Heart Gallery NYC said in a statement to The Advocate, “This exhibition is about honoring the nearly 12,000 NYC children living in foster care and the hundreds waiting and ready to be adopted. We’re hoping that same-sex or heterosexual couples will step up to fulfill the children’s dream of finding ‘forever families.'”

While every child hopes to find that “forever family,” there are many ways to support them outside of adoption. The Heart Gallery offers volunteer opportunities in a wide range of areas from fundraising to exhibit planning to web services to mentoring. Of course, cash is good, too. In addition to donations to the organization, The Birthday Club allows contributors to enable children to celebrate birthdays that are often ignored. There are also tips on the national website in the event that someone is looking to open a Heart Gallery in their area.

For those of you who will be attending New York City Pride on June 29th, stop by the Heart Gallery table on Hudson Street from 11AM through 6PM.

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: PURPLE SHERBET PHOTOGRAPHYvia PHOTOPIN cc

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  1. Pingback: Searching for Forever Families - A Gurlz Guide : A Gurlz Guide

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