Heart Gallery helps connect kids in foster care with families

Posted at 10:01 PM, Nov 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-10 10:51:30-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- An annual event connects kids in foster care with permanent families here in Utah, and it’s called the Heart Gallery.

“Got together with a photographer, took a bunch of pictures, picked the best one,” said Hunter, who is one of the children who participated in the Heart Gallery.

Hunter’s portrait is one of 41 on display in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol.

“It's a once in a lifetime opportunity because it's not every day I get to go out and meet someone who is possibly going to be my parents or family forever,” Hunter said.

The portraits are for the 10th annual Utah Heart Gallery, which features the faces of children looking for families to call their own.

“They're pictures that have been taken professionally, and they show off their talents they have, they show off the things they like to do,” said Estella, another participant in the project. “They are displayed for people that come to this event to kind of see them, to see their personalities.”

Estella sounds like an event organizer as she discusses the gallery, but she is actually eligible for adoption herself. She’s been in foster care for 13 years.

”There are kids in Utah in foster care that have not been adopted and that are loving kids and they just need loving families,” she said.

Kathy Searle of the Adoption Exchange organized the event, and she said it’s all for an important goal.

“We all need a family, no matter what our age,” she said. “…When I say to you there's 154 kids waiting in foster care to be adopted, you can forget about that number really quickly, but when you come to an event like this and you see the portraits and you look into the faces of the children who are waiting, you don't forget.”

In the last 10 years, 330 kids have been featured in the Heart Gallery, and 185 of those children have been adopted.

“The people that set this up truly do care,” Estella said. “They really do. And I would just like to thank them for setting it up.”

The photos will be on display at the Capitol until Wednesday at noon. After that, the photos will go on a statewide tour.

For more information about the Heart Gallery and the children featured, click here.