BEAR’s Heart Gallery Houston program is an art exhibit and community education/outreach initiative featuring children who are waiting for adoption. We work to find forever families for children through direct recruitment opportunities and education of foster and adoptive families. At the core of this outreach is simply a picture. But there is nothing simple about it; our volunteer photographers truly capture a child’s spirit in every shot. These pictures speak louder than words, they say, “I’m here and I am special.”
Growing up in the Texas foster care system is a reality for thousands of children. Statewide, more than 30,000 children are in the care of CPS. More than 6,000 of those, available for adoption. While the system is comprised of children of every age, ranging from newborn to 17 years and all ethnicities, a disproportionate number of children available for adoption are in fact children of color. Hispanic children also face similar disparities. In fact, these two cultures are two times more likely to get removed due to abuse and neglect. In addition, a vast majority of children featured in our gallery are often older children, sibling groups and children with special needs – often referred to as forgotten children.
Historically, this special population of children has ONLY a 1% chance of being adopted before aging out of the system. More than 40% become homeless within the first year, 50% battle substance abuse, approximately 60% will end up in jail, and sadly, more than 70% will be pregnant or part of a pregnancy by the age of 21. Statistics are undeniably grim however, together, we can make a difference!
Heart Galleries are a nationwide initiative, directly addressing these children who historically only have a 1% chance of being adopted before aging out of the system. With a Heart Gallery program in place, the national statistic of these children being adopted changes from 1% to over 60% – and continues to grow.