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DHS news release

Feb. 8, 2007

Heart Gallery contact: Pamela Vorachek 503-371-3631
Media contact: Patricia Feeny 503-945-6955

Statewide gallery featuring adoptable children opens first exhibit

The Heart Gallery of Oregon, a traveling photographic display featuring adoptable children, will open Feb. 14 with a reception at the State Capitol Galleria.

The exhibit features images capturing the spirit and personality of foster children needing permanent homes. Professional photographers from across the state have donated their time to the gallery, which features approximately 40 children.

Hundreds of Oregon children statewide are in need of permanent homes.
DHS child welfare finalized 1,095 adoptions in FFY 2006, an increase of 6 percent from FFY 2005.

"The more visible these foster children are to potential adoptive families, the better their chances of being adopted," said Pamela Vorachek, one of the founders of the Heart Gallery of Oregon, who is currently adopting an Oregon child. "The Heart Gallery will help these children receive the exposure they need to find permanent homes."

The nation's first Heart Gallery was started in New Mexico in 2001. That state's exhibits have brought hundreds of requests for information, with 50 percent of interested people going through the licensing process. More than 40 states now host such galleries, and many report similar success.

The opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. features remarks from Gov. Ted Kulongoski; DHS Director Bruce Goldberg, M.D.; former legislator and adoptive parent Bryan Johnston; and Vorachek, director of A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village.

Rolanne Stafford, a professional photographer and one of the founders of the Heart Gallery of Oregon, also will speak.

"Photographs can have so much impact and can be so moving that it seemed natural to take advantage of their inherent power to connect waiting children with a 'forever' family," Stafford said.

Heart galleries go beyond finding adoptive families; the exhibits also point out other important contributions the public can make to help at-risk children, such as becoming a foster parent or mentor, or volunteering for organizations such as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

The positive effects of the Heart Gallery also extend beyond foster children and their adoptive families. Research shows that children who remain in foster care without being adopted have a significantly higher risk of becoming homeless or entering the criminal justice system.

The Heart Gallery of Oregon will be at the State Capitol Galleria Feb. 14 - 16. The exhibit will move to the Salem Center Feb. 17 to March 10; Medford March 19 to April 15; and Portland City Hall May 3 - 18.

The gallery also is working with organizers in Coos Bay, Gold Beach, Grants Pass, Pendleton, Klamath Falls, Eugene, Baker City and the Bend-Redmond area to set up appearances in 2007 and 2008.

The Heart Gallery of Oregon is a newly formed, grass-roots non-profit group. Organizations that have been key in creating the Heart Gallery are the Oregon Department of Human Services, the Foster Family Care Network, Kinship House, and the Gift of Adoption Fund Columbia River Chapter. Funding has come from private donations including the Amateur Sports Charity Foundation, Tazo Tea, and the Capitol Branch of the Foresters.


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