CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The dozens of photographs selected for display during this year’s “Heart Gallery of South Texas” reflect the hopes and dreams of children who wake up each morning wondering if this could be the day; the day that some caring family welcomes them into their home.
The second “Heart Gallery of South Texas” featuring photo displays of 36 children seeking permanent homes opens Friday, Nov. 3 at the Antonio E. Garcia Arts and Education Center, 2021 Agnes St. The exhibition, which coincides with National Adoption Month, is a collaborative project between the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Spaulding for Children, and the University’s Community Outreach Department.
The “Heart Gallery” highlights children who are considered more challenging to place because of their age (nine years or older) or because they are part of a sibling group that wants to be placed together. Visitors can view framed 12” by 16” photos and read a short biography of the child. Prospective families can then learn more by contacting Rose Banda with Child Protective Services at (361) 878-7497.
“Many of these children have been waiting for three years or more for that day to come, but it hasn’t come yet,” said Carole Peterson, director of Workforce Development at A&M-Corpus Christi and the adoptive mother of a 17-year-old girl, one of 12 children who found a home last year.
The photos taken by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi graduate student Jennifer Arnold and alumnae Jessica Doege and Dianitza Joseph will be on display through December. The public is invited to visit the Garcia Center Monday through Saturday to view the pictures and learn about the children through brief biographies written by A&M-Corpus Christi students.
“This is not an exhibition about me and my photography, but an exhibition about the children,” said Arnold. “I am blessed to have been a participant with this project. Using my skills as a photographer to educate our public regarding the overwhelmed and under funded foster care system is an extraordinary experience.”
In order to capture the children’s vitality, Doedge read biographical sketches written by students in Dr. Tom Murphy’s professional writing class before putting the children in front of the camera. However, she was unprepared for the attachment she developed with her subjects.
“I didn’t understand how special this project was until we got started,” said Doedge. “These kids have been through so much that it really makes me appreciate my family and realize how lucky I am.”
The Heart Gallery exhibit was founded by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department in 2001 as a way to call attention to foster children in protective custody, who are awaiting adoptive families. This year, there are eight galleries being held in Texas cities, including Houston, Dallas and Austin.