DENVER (Nov. 2, 2020) — The Colorado Heart Gallery is celebrating its 15th anniversary this November for National Adoption Month. Since 2015, 290 children and youth who have been featured on the Colorado Heart Gallery have been adopted.
The Colorado Heart Gallery features portraits, narratives and videos to help prospective families get to know children and youth in foster care who are awaiting adoption.
“The magic of the Colorado Heart Gallery lies in the beautiful photographs taken by volunteer photographers. They’re able to capture the personalities of our young people,” said Minna Castillo Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families. “Children and youth in foster care who are waiting to be adopted are just like the kids you already know. They each have unique hopes and dreams, which shine through in these photographs and speak to potential parents.”
Since 2005, more than 60 volunteer professional photographers have photographed 845 children and youth who were waiting to be adopted. The traveling display has been viewed in 79 locations across the state, and the coheartgallery.org website receives more than 600,000 visitors every year.
“We tell the families a lot about the kids, and I actually try very hard to hear the youth voice when I’m speaking with them, but in the photographs or in the video you actually see this child come to life and you really get a sense of who they are,” said Arapahoe County adoption recruiter Natalie Coronado, who utilizes the Colorado Heart Gallery in her recruitment efforts.
The first Heart Gallery was started in New Mexico in 2001. The Colorado Heart Gallery began four years later when a committee made up of representatives from the State of Colorado, Boulder County, Arapahoe County, Denver County, Raise the Future (formerly The Adoption Exchange) and Colorado Parent Magazine brought the project to art galleries in the Denver metro area. At the time, the photography display could only be viewed by appointment in Denver. Over time, photos were uploaded to the Colorado Heart Gallery website and shared with Raise the Future, AdoptUSKids and county caseworkers across the state for additional recruitment.
“I think one of the really cool things about the Colorado Heart Gallery is that the kids get to be themselves. As a photographer, yes, I want to make sure that the lighting is good and some of the technical things are right, but I want to be able to empower the kiddos and let them be as free to be themselves as they want to be,” said Taryn Kimberly, a professional photographer who has been volunteering since 2019.
The primary goal of foster care is to reunify children with their parents. However, if that option is not available, adoption or another type of permanency is the secondary goal. There are currently 408 children and youth in Colorado who are waiting for a family.
The Colorado Department of Human Services' CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to strengthen families and communities. For information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit co4kids.org.
Mary Gerlach, Communications Manager