2016 has been a rough year for many of us, and to combat all the bad news, Brynne from The Gathered Home, thought this would be the perfect time to highlight some of our favorite charities, and some of the ways bloggers are giving back to our communities in an attempt to make the world a slightly better place.
If you are hopping over from The Learner Observer, I’m so glad you are here!
Heart Gallery of Palm Beach County
As many of you know, we recently adopted two beautiful daughters from the foster care system. But what you might not know is what started us on the path to decide to adopt from foster care. Well, long story short, I volunteer as a photographer for the local chapter of the Heart Gallery here in Palm Beach County, and kept falling in love with the kids I took pictures of. Each one of them had something that drew me to them – whether it was their beautiful smile, or their talent for making me laugh, or their desire to just be part of a family. I would go home and tell my husband about this little girl or boy that I met, and what funny thing they had said or did to crack me up. But I always felt like I should be doing something more.
I had thought my whole life that our family wasn’t complete yet, but up to this point, there was always something holding us back from taking that final step. The thing that finally convinced us to move forward was seeing 15 year old Davion’s emotional plea for a family to adopt him. He had been in foster care for his entire life, and at church one morning he pleaded for someone to adopt him. I cried like a baby thinking of how sad that must be to go through life without the love and security of a family. After showing my husband the video, we agreed that it would be a good time to add to our family.
For those of you who don’t know, the Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic and audio exhibit created to find forever families for children in foster care. In the past, the photos of the children looking for their forever homes were not much to look at – more like photos you’d find on an ID card, than a picture that tried to convey their beautiful personalities.
And so the Heart Gallery was born. Professional photographers from around the country volunteer their time and talent to create photos that will capture the hearts and minds of people looking to expand their families.
The photos are used online, usually beside a short biography of each child, and sometimes they are blown up and displayed all over the counties in libraries, malls, and other public places.
All of the kids that I take pictures of for the Heart Gallery are currently available for adoption. Some are living in private foster homes, others are in group homes. Some are only children, while others are parts of sibling groups. They are bright, funny, silly, sweet kids. They are all hoping for the day that they will have a family to call theirs forever – something that most of us take for granted.
To say that taking pictures for the Heart Gallery changed my life would be an understatement. Not only because we adopted our girls as a direct result, but because meeting the kids and learning just a little bit about them has changed my perspective on parenting, what is really important, and life in general.
My hope is that that when someone sees these beautiful faces, they are moved to think about adoption through the foster care system. These kids deserve to be loved and cherished; to have a real, forever home.
I think after a year like 2016, we all need to feel like we have the power to change things, even if it’s just the size of your heart. Are you looking for ways to give back to your community? If you are interested in adopting, please consider adopting locally through your state. If you are a photographer, call your local Heart Gallery and see if they need volunteers. And if those ideas don’t sound like something you can do, check out the rest of my blog friends below to see which charities they hold near and dear to their hearts – starting with Jess from Bright Green Door!
Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County – The Gathered Home // The Humane Society – Monica Wants It // Dog Rescues – Cassie Bustamante // Global Fund for Women – Jest Cafe // Peaceable Kingdom – Cuckoo4Design // Buyamba Uganda – House Homemade // Compassion International – The Home I Create // Canadian Premature Babies Foundation – The Learner Observer // The Heart Gallery – Pinterest Addict // Three Angels Children’s Relief – Bright Green Door
Thanks for stopping by – come back soon!!
Here are a few more links to check out if you are interested in adopting or fostering.
While this Heart Gallery is for Georgia, it has an excellent video of what the Heart Gallery is all about.
Children’s Home Society of Florida – this is the organization that we adopted our daughters through.
*all photos by Elli Belle Photography – that’s me!
Cassie Bustamante says
this is the last one i am visiting from this hop, just the order i went in… and you have me in tears. and i went and watched the video. so powerful, eliesa. thank you for sharing.
I agree with Cassie, you have me in tears. The thought of a child not feeling the love of a family is heartbreaking. The photos are beautiful and such a great way of showing the spirit of a deserving child.
Monica Benavidez says
And now I’m crying at work! I think it’s wonderful that you donate your time and talents to Heart Gallery, and it’s so incredibly moving that your work with them led you to find room in your heart and home to adopt two girls. You’re a wonderful person!
A Pinterest Addict says
Thank you ladies! It’s a great cause, and I hope to bring more awareness to adoption through the foster care system. Every child deserves a loving family… 🙂
Brynne | The Gathered Home says
Oh Eliesa! Absolutely beautiful post, sweet friend! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing about your work with the Heart Gallery and the story behind your family’s adoption… This is something incredibly close to my heart, as we hope to venture into foster care/adoption in the future. I’m going to track down my local Heart Gallery and see how I can get involved!
This is so awesome! What beautiful photos of beautiful kids!