The Adoption Exchange’s Heart Gallery shares the art of loving children

Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Adoption Exchange, one of Utah’s leading adoption agencies, held a Heart Gallery Open House on Friday from 1-6 p.m. at the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum.

Debbie Hofhines, Kathy Searle and Maya Searle manned the information table at the Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Debbie Hofhines, Kathy Searle and Maya Searle manned the information table at the Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

This was not your typical art show. The Gallery displayed portraits of children who have been in the foster care system for a long time and are looking for a forever family to love them. The portraits were taken and donated by photographers who also give of their time to bring out the personalities of each of the kids in their pictures. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

“The kids that are featured in this gallery are from all over the state,” said Kathy Searle, director of programs for the Adoption Exchange in Utah. “By displaying these photos the photographers can capture each child’s personality.”

The Heart Gallery moves to different cities throughout Utah.

When the kids are adopted, the portraits are presented to the child’s family at a national adoption day event that takes place in November at the state capital.

The children featured in Heart Gallery are generally older, have been in the foster care system for many years and are looking for a forever family before they reach the age when they will be released from the foster care system to live on their own. Even after kids reach the age that they can live on their own, Searle said, they still need a family to love and guide them.

Wendy's is a major sponsor of The Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2014 | Photo taken by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Wendy’s is a major sponsor of The Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2014 | Photo taken by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

“Adoption is not something to go into lightly,” Searle said. “The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption did a study several years ago and they found that from the time that somebody first thinks about adoption and then takes that first step is about seven years.”

Debbie Hofhines, regional area representative for the southwest region of Utah Foster Care Foundation, was also on hand to answer questions for people who were interested in looking into providing foster care.

“We never stop needing foster families, “ Hofhines said. “We offer training and ongoing support for our foster parents.”

Hofhines’ job is to educate and nurture families to help them meet the needs of children in the foster care system.

Sometimes families who want to adopt a child start out as foster parents. By being a foster parent there is access to a great many resources available. Training is always ongoing, and there is a large network of foster parents who work together to help one another.

Glen and Torrey Hall, of Washington City, stopped by the Heart Gallery Open House to inquire about the possibilities of adopting a child.

We’ve been thinking about adopting for about two-and-a-half years now,” Torrey Hall said. “We have checked out The Adoption Exchange website many times.”

The Halls recently relocated back to the Washington County area and have settled in, so they think now might be a good time to get serious about it.

If you have considered adoption you can find more information about The Adoption Exchange at The Adoption Exchange. If you would like more information regarding becoming a foster parent visit The Utah Foster Care Foundation. To see more photos of children featured in the Heart Gallery visit the Utah Heart Gallery.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

 

Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Portrait shown at Heart Gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2104 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

 

Brochures are provided on each child displayed in the gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Brochures are provided on each child displayed in the gallery, St. George, Utah, March 21, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

 

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