Portraits in the Heart Gallery highlight need for local families to adopt
The struggle to find permanent homes and families for children without them is highlighted by the Capital Region Heart Gallery.
The Heart Gallery’s opening reception on Friday, Jan. 21, at the Delack Guild Room in Proctors featured portraits of smiling children waiting to be adopted. The gallery focuses on older children, from 13 to 18 years old and even up to 21 years old. There are 10 young people from Schenectady County featured.
We are very honored to host the Heart Gallery, and we are very proud to [host] this once again, said Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature. `This is a wonderful exhibit, and it’s important because our goal here is to find loving, permanent and safe homes for these great kids that you see in the photos that are around the room. These are just some of the children that are currently available for adoption.`
In Schenectady County, there are more than 80 children seeking adoption, said Savage. She said the county knows how important it is for a child to have a `forever family.` She asked attendees to reach out to their friends, families and neighbors to help the county find homes for children, older youths and sibling groups seeking adoption.
`We know that families are the most important thing that we have in our society and everybody deserves to be a part of a family,` said Savage. `I thank the people who work in our Department of Social Services for their very, very hard work.`
Lori Pirrone, adoption supervisor for the county’s Department of Social Services, shared a letter she received recently from a local family that adopted a child. While the adopted child, Sam, faces medical conditions that can make caring for him difficult at times, his mother said she doesn’t regret welcoming him into her life. Conditions he faces are a bipolar disorder, reactive detachment disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
`My goal is to keep him out of institutions, as this only adds to his issues,` wrote the mother. `He needs someone to stand behind him through thick and thin ` that would be me and all the people who work with families in times of crises.`
Pirrone said she sees in that letter the qualities she wants adoptive parents to possess, such as knowing their child’s needs and nurturing a child to reach his or her potential. Of course, a good sense of humor also goes a long way.
`If you are here thinking about adoption, I ask you to search your soul to see if you have these qualities,` said Pirrone. `I encourage you to open your heart and home to one of our children.`
In 2001, the concept of the Heart Gallery was born when an adoptive mother walked into her local Department of Social Services in New Mexico, said Aurelia Colamarino, director of the county’s Office of Children and Family Services. That mother thought photography could help inspire people to adopt children.
Currently, there are 120 Heart Galleries throughout the country and Canada said Colamarino. Since 2005, there has been a Heart Gallery in the Capital District, which has resulted in 40 adoptions through the program.
`I think the other important thing this campaign does for us is it gives souls to these children and shows the individuality, and it should inspire all of us to do something,` said Colamarino.
Dennis Packard, commissioner for the county’s Department of Social Services, echoed Colamarino and said he hoped the event highlighted the need locally for children to be adopted.
`This is not just Schenectady, this is our region, and this is our opportunity to have this gem here, but I want you to realize that there are children all over the state,` said Packard. `I can tell you that every county in this state will work with you just as diligently as we do and the workers in those counties are absolutely just as dedicated.`
The Heart Gallery is on display at Delack Guild Room in Proctors till Feb. 28. For information on adopting a child contact the Schenectady County Department of Social Services at 388-4399, or visit www.schenectadycounty.com.
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