By Mark Bialczak
LPL Communications Specialist
The photographs of smiling children could have been taken anyplace and at any time around Central New York.
Indeed, the kids in the pictures could be from Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga, Oswego or another 10 neighboring counties. But there’s a reason the LPL’s April Art in the Lobby exhibit is titled “Heart Gallery.” These are special children.
“They’re children interested in being adopted. These children asked to have their pictures taken to be included in the exhibit,” Reta Stanley said as she and co-worker Jason Perkins hung the 12 photographs on two of the lobby walls.
Members of the Professional Photographers Society of Central New York and other private photographers who do high-quality work quickly agree with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ Syracuse Regional Office to take these shots for free.
The Heart Gallery travels around the 14-county area, one month-long stay at a time, with the hope of establishing connections that will find forever homes for the kids.
Mostly the children pictured are currently living in foster homes, Stanley said. All of them are available for adoption immediately.
“Some have very tragic backgrounds. Some haven’t had any sort of family life for years other than foster homes,” she said.
Indeed, although the mouths and even eyes in the photographs may be smiling, the individual labels that are attached to each all carry a hint of sadness … and hope.
In the very least, Stanley said, the Heart Gallery raises awareness about the ongoing need for families to adopt children or take on foster situations.
“There are more children that need homes than kids in these photos,” Stanley said.
More information can be found at the Office of Children and Family Service site ocfs.ny.gov/adopt.