Finding Family: Heart Gallery LA uses art of photography to help kids in foster care find a family

Professional photographers volunteer their time to take pictures of kids who are looking for a permanent home.

Thursday, December 9, 2021
Finding Family: How photography is helping foster kids find families
An organization called the Heart Gallery is helping hundreds of children in foster care find families to adopt them, and it's all done through the art of photography.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There are nearly 19,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles County and hundreds are looking for a family to adopt them.

Hurdles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have delayed the process, but an organization is looking to change that with a simple photo.

The Heart Gallery is a national traveling photographic exhibit and its L.A. chapter is run by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Professional photographers volunteer their time to take pictures of kids who are looking for a permanent home.

That means courts are no longer looking to reunite them with their families. Instead, those children are up for adoption.

"We have about 55 kids," said Stephanie Clancy, a former Heart Gallery coordinator who recently conducted her final photoshoot for the organization after 22 years. "Fifty-five is a lot. Many are sibling sets. We have sets up to four in a group."

One of the children the Heart Gallery is currently featuring is 10-year-old Jaxon. He's been in the foster care system since he was five.

His social worker told Eyewitness News at one point, he and his sister were in a foster home together. She was adopted by that family, but he wasn't.

As Jaxon goes from person to person and place to place, he has to be the one to look out for himself.

Academically, he's gifted. His teachers said he's ahead of his class. He's compassionate and has a love for creatures big and small.

Ten-year-old Jaxon is currently looking for an adoptive family with the help of the Heart Gallery organization.

Jaxon's partner behind the camera for the photoshoot is volunteer photographer Brooke Nevin.

"I am an actor by trade and also I work behind the camera as a director sometimes as well," she said. "I know what it's like to take a headshot. I know how much can be riding on one picture to have someone choose you."

Nevin said she feels a sense of joy when her photos lead to an adoption.

"I got my first opportunity to do a portrait session, and not shortly after I found out that the little girl I took pictures of had found her forever family," she said. "That is just the best feeling in the world that I could play some small part in making sure that a kid has another chance at having a family that can support her."

There are 32,000 children in the care of DCFS. Some of them need a permanent home while some of them need support until they get back to their home.

All of them, however, need a family.

There are many different ways to support these children living in L.A. County. Showing up for them is the first step. Below are several resources you can explore.

Watch "Finding Family: The Long Road Home" - a special focusing on the children in foster care throughout L.A. County - live on ABC7 Saturday, Dec. 11, at 10:30 p.m.

Watch live newscasts and in-depth reporting from ABC7 on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and GoogleTV. Just search "ABC7 Los Angeles."