It took more than an hour for adoption specialists to put photos of children, many of them siblings, in frames.
But the time spent cleaning the frames of dust and the occasional bug was well worth it once the specialists saw their work come together. Thursday evening during The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services’ 13th Annual Heart Gallery of South Texas Opening.
The gallery at Corpus Christi Christian Fellowship Church was designed to promote adoption. Case workers also hope the gallery will answer questions people have about the adoption process.
November is Adoption Awareness Month.
Twenty-three South Texas children, 10 of whom were sibling groups, were featured in this year’s gallery. The children began posing for the photos in September and carried balloons to match the year’s theme of the Disney movie “Up.”
“It’s great. It brings exposure for the kids. A lot of kids have been placed,” said Stephanie Sanchez, adoption prep supervisor.
The 13th annual Heart Gallery of South Texas’ opening Thursday evening featured Jennifer Oliva and son David as keynote speakers. Jennifer and Gabriel Oliva, David’s parents, took him home just four days before Christmas almost two years ago, Jennifer Oliva said.
“David just fit right in,” she said. “He checked the fridge and went to his room and asked ‘is this my room?’ ”
David’s adoption was finalized in September, just nine months after they started the adoption process.
She hopes people will come to realize that the adoption process doesn’t have to be long or expensive. And David encouraged everyone to help children find their forever homes.
“We’re in the process of looking for another kid. I was worried how he would feel,” Jennifer Oliva said. “But he’s ready. He wants to help everyone find forever homes.”
The story of success also rang true for adoption specialist Mickie Rodriguez, who had a 15-year-old girl placed into a home after last year’s gallery.
Before going to the gallery a family that was in contact with adoption specialists had their minds and hearts set on adopting a young child. But the child they were interested in adopting was already in the process of being adopted by another family, Rodriguez said.
Then the family saw the photo of the 15-year-old girl at the Heart Gallery, and their hearts became set adopting her. She is now in the process of being adopted by them, Rodriguez said.
“She’s blossomed so much. She’s in sports and she’s doing real good,” Rodriguez said. “She has her own bedroom now. She’s being a normal teenager.”
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