The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department founded the Heart Gallery in 2001 as a way to allow children in foster care awaiting adoptive families to step from the shadows into the light. Stirring portraits, which reveal the children’s amazing spirits and individuality, have helped many find permanent, loving homes.
Our display will be featured in many public venues where people who have not considered adoption will be exposed to the opportunity. It doesn’t show every single child who needs a home, but serves as a compelling representation of the many Missouri children who are looking for forever families. Onsite at the Heart Gallery exhibition, we provide adoption information and help prospective adoptive and foster parents begin the process.
On average, Missouri has more than 13,000 children in out of home placements: foster homes, relative placements and residential institutions (group homes).
The State of Missouri has approximately 1,200 children waiting for an adoptive placement, with the older children always the most difficult to place. As of April 2015, the percentage of children waiting for an adoption placement in each age group was:
- 42% 0-4 years
- 25% 5-9 years
- 27% 10-15 years
- 6% 16+ years
The average length of stay for a child in foster care is just under two years (725.5 days). In 2014, 67% of children in foster homes were adopted by their non-relative foster parents.
How we hope to affect these numbers:
In addition to increasing recruitment of both foster and adoptive families, our desire is to let people know that older children are adoptable. The Heart Gallery seeks to raise awareness to our communities that children of all ages in Missouri are waiting for the right families. So, each child in the Heart Gallery represents all of the children waiting for forever families. Our desire is that when the community at large sees the faces of the children, they would inquire about becoming a foster or adoptive parent.