In 2001, a foster and adoptive parent recruiter for the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department, Diane Granito, and adoptive mother, Cathy Maier collaborated to create the Heart Gallery of America. Today, most states have their own gallery. Some even have one for every county.
According to one area website, “The mission of the Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay is to raise awareness of Tampa’s waiting foster children, engage the community in their welfare, and secure permanent, loving adoptive families.” Each photo in the gallery is of a child in need of a forever home. At any one time, 60 children’s photos are on display around Tampa Bay at multiple locations as well as online. Children shown in the gallery are three times more likely to be adopted.
The Tampa Bay area gallery just had a win for the good guys. The Hart family had been longing for a new member. The mom, Donna Hart, was a special education teacher at Bloomingdale High School. After much prayer as a family and having looked into several options, they decided to adopt a child locally who had special needs. While looking through the Heart photos, Donna ran across Anthony’s enchanting smile. It caught her eye immediately, and she wanted to know more. Anthony was born with cerebral palsy, and as a result was in a wheelchair. He had been in foster care since he was an infant. Mr. and Mrs. Hart spent some time sharing the information with their two boys, Alex and Tanner. Once they were sure everyone was on board, they proceeded with the adoption process. When the big day arrived, cheers rang out in the courtroom as the adoption was finalized. The three boys all wore superhero bow ties displaying their strength and unity.
There are currently 425,000 children in foster care and 100,000 children available for adoption in the United States.
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