back to top

DePaul Services and Others Promote Adoption Through Heart Gallery

The Heart Gallery features photos and descriptions of older children looking for permanent homes.

Through the end of December, visitors to the Roanoke Civic Center’s special events center will pass by the “Heart Gallery” – a wall filled with pictures of older children from southwestern Virginia that are waiting to be adopted. These are children who have been removed from the biological parents and have often been in foster homes for years, sometimes in multiple locations.

The Heart Gallery also features descriptions of the children and other vital information. William, for example, “has a bright imagination and bubbly personality that is guaranteed to make anyone smile.” He also likes sports, according to his lengthy description. The Heart Gallery is a joint effort by DePaul, a southwest Virginia nonprofit agency based in Roanoke, Lutheran Family Services, the Virginia Department of Social Services and the Roanoke County Department of Social Services.

Samantha Burnette, the “Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter,” for DePaul Family Services, works with a caseload of children awaiting adoption, looking to find them permanent homes. Although many want newborn babies or very small children, Burnette says older children need loving homes as well. Local Departments of Social Services throughout southwestern Virginia refer children to Burnette and DePaul, which has offices throughout that part of the state.

“It’s pretty much a collaboration … we all work together,” said Burnette of the agencies involved, from removing children from an unsafe home to placing them with another permanent family. “The common goal is getting these kids adopted from the foster care system.”

On each photo description in the Heart Gallery there are contact numbers for the social workers overseeing that child, should someone want to inquire about adoption. The process of adopting may be easier than some believe, according to Burnette. “I just think there is a lack of awareness in our community, which the Heart Gallery is [hoping to address].”

Potential parents must first meet certain criteria, go through background checks and have their home inspected.  “It’s about the matching process as well,” said Burnette, and … making a good fit. The hardest part is getting through that home study process.”

Those pictured in the Heart Gallery are older than the very young children many seek to adopt – averaging about ten years old, according to Burnette. “We are looking for families that are going to open their hearts to older children,” said Burnette; “these children have been in foster homes for years.” In fact she focuses all of her attention at DePaul on recruiting older children for the adoption process.

All have been removed from their parents at some point for abuse, neglect or other reasons “where they were not safe.” Birth families are often given a chance to correct situations that led to a child’s removal, but in some cases reconciliation is not possible.

Many have been in multiple foster home placements, Burnette added – changing schools, friends and living environments. “Permanency is key for these kids,” she notes. DePaul Community Resources, based on Hollins Road, administers adoption and foster care programs, as well as a program for developmentally delayed adults that includes housing. It also offers mentoring and counseling, with offices stretching from Charlottesville to Abingdon.

The Heart Gallery at the Special Events Center is all about “increasing the awareness, to try and get more adoptive families interested. That’s our main goal,” said Burnette. “There are kids right in our back yard that need homes. You don’t have to go to other extremes to adopt.”

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles