Finding a Family: Heart Gallery LA Uses the Art of Photography to Help Foster Children Find Families

LOS ANGELES (KABC) – There are nearly 19,000 foster children in Los Angeles County and hundreds are looking for families to adopt them.

Obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed the process, but one organization is looking to change that with a simple photo.

The Heart Gallery is a national traveling photographic exhibition and its LA chapter is managed by the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services. Professional photographers volunteer their time to take pictures of children looking for a permanent home.

This means that the courts no longer seek to reunite them with their families. Instead, these children are up for adoption.

“We have about 55 children,” said Stephanie Clancy, a former Heart Gallery coordinator who recently conducted her last photoshoot for the organization after 22 years. “Fifty-five is a lot. A lot of them are sibling sets. We have sets of up to four in a group.”

One of the children the Heart Gallery is currently showcasing is 10-year-old Jaxon. He has been in the foster care system since he was five years old.

His social worker told Eyewitness News that at one point he and his sister were together in foster care. She was adopted by this family, but not him.

As Jaxon goes from person to person and from place to place, he must be the one to watch over himself.

Academically, he is gifted. His teachers said he was ahead of his class. He is compassionate and loves creatures large and small.

Jaxon’s partner behind the camera for the photoshoot is volunteer photographer Brooke Nevin.

“I’m an actress by trade and sometimes I also work behind the camera as a director,” she said. “I know what it’s like to take a picture in your head. I know how hard it can be to roll over a picture for someone to choose you.”

Nevin said she feels a sense of joy when her photos lead to an adoption.

“I had my first opportunity to do a portrait shoot, and soon after discovering that the little girl I had photographed had found her family forever,” she said. “It’s just the best feeling in the world that I can play a small part in making sure that a child has another chance to have a family that can support her.”

There are 32,000 children in the care of DCFS. Some of them need a permanent home while others need support until they return home.

All, however, need families.

There are many ways to support these children living in LA County. Introducing yourself to them is the first step. Below are several resources you can explore.

Watch “Finding Family: The Long Road Home” – a special about children in care in LA County – live on ABC7 Saturday, December 11 at 10:30 p.m.

Watch live TV news and in-depth reporting from ABC7 on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, and GoogleTV. Just search for “ABC7 Los Angeles”.

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