Last month, a 15-year-old foster child named Davion went in front of a St. Petersburg, Fla. church. Davion told his story – of having spent his entire life in foster care – and pleaded for a family to adopt him, for someone to love him.
Aside from inspiring thousands of families to inquire about his adoption, Davion also brought to light the stories and struggles of thousands of other children looking for permanent, adoptive families.
“If just 10 percent of the people who have inquired about Davion continue to pursue adoption of a foster child, every child in Florida would have a forever family,” Esther Jacobo, interim secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, wrote in the Tallahassee Democrat. Jacobo discussed the importance and need for adoptive parents during National Adoption Month.
The Miami Heart Gallery, a joint initiative from Our Kids and The Children’s Trust, is an online series of profiles/portraits of children who are looking for families to adopt them—literally putting a face to the more than 150 children currently in Miami-Dade County’s foster care system. While many of these children may not be as open and comfortable with sharing their stories as Davion, these children at least have the opportunity to show their faces and express themselves through the Miami Heart Gallery.
Now in its sixth year, the Miami Heart Gallery is the local branch of the Heart Gallery of America, a collaborative project of more than 120 Heart Galleries across the country. Several top photographers generously donated their time, taking pictures of the foster children around Miami, in Coconut Grove and at Pinecrest Gardens. The Miami Heart Gallery also features recorded audio messages from many of the children, as they discuss their hopes and dreams.
Of the dozens of children featured in the Miami Heart Gallery, each one has a different story: Alfredo is a fan of LeBron James and macaroni and cheese; Winny is fascinated by outer space and dreams of having a dog; and Sara loves ice-skating and movies. Their stories are all unique, but their similar, radiant smiles show their shared child-like optimism for the future.
In the United States, there is a serious need for potential adoptive parents, and projects like the Miami Heart Gallery gives adoptive families and foster children the ability to connect in ways previously unavailable. The website is filled with links and information to help individuals and families make informed decisions, whether they are interested in adopting, fostering or volunteering.
The Miami Heart Gallery launched in 2008. Since that time, Our Kids has featured approximately 212 children and 72 have been adopted. For more information on Our Kids’ latest efforts, click here to visit our Facebook page. And visit the Miami Heart Gallery if you’re interested in making a difference in a child’s life. The change will do you good!