Missouri's Heart Gallery project began in 2006. It is a unique way to shine a light on the children in foster care who are waiting for adoption. The portraits and fun descriptions of the children reveal their interests and individuality. The Heart Gallery has helped over 180 children in Missouri find their forever families. There are currently 1,400 children in Missouri that are in foster care, and in need of loving, stable homes.
Oregon County Caseworker, Jessica Campbell, and her supervisor, Denise Young, were on hand to tell The South Missourian News more about the traveling gallery that showcases children in need of adoption.
"This is our traveling Heart Gallery, so we move it from circuit to circuit," said Campbell.
Young added, "It was at the Glass Sword Cinema and then at the Alton Florist. It travels all over the state of Missouri. The kids are from across the state. There are a few that are in our area. These are just kids that are up for adoption and looking for families."
Along with the photos, a basket is placed for people interested in adopting one of the children, to leave their name and number.
"One of our case workers will call and talk to them and set up their license and training," said Young. Classes must be attended by those interested in adoption and those willing to become foster parents.
Young stated, "We are always looking for foster parents in our area. Even with adoption, they have to attend the foster parent training."
Campbell also added more about the requirements for those interested in getting involved, "After the foster parent training, we have specialized adoption classes they must follow up with. The first step is making the call to get on the registry, and we can get them set up." Campbell was able to remember two children in the area that have been adopted as a result of the Heart Gallery.
Sincerely wanting a loving home for the children, Young said, "We have a lot of kids out there that just need homes." "The Heart Gallery also reminds us that it is not just babies that are in need of forever homes, they are all ages," said Campbell.
The Missouri Heart Gallery is a joint effort between the Missouri Department of Social Services and the Adoption Exchange-Missouri Office. The Adoption Exchange was established in 1983 and has been assisting children with special needs be adopted. The Adoption Exchange program has helped more than 5,500 children find devoted families.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent or adoption can view and learn more about the Heart Gallery at moheartgallery.org. Campbell encouraged anyone who has questions about helping locally, to call (417) 778-7251 and learn more about adoption or foster parenting.