Health and Family Services Cabinet
Louisville photographers spotlight children awaiting adoption; 28 foster kids featured in Shining Star Gallery
A photo exhibit opening this week in Louisville is designed to help Kentucky’s waiting foster children find the love they crave from a permanent, adoptive family.
The Shining Star Photo Gallery III premiered with a reception today at Louisville’s Frazier International History Museum. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and WLKY Wednesday’s Child are co-sponsors of the display, a continuation of an effort begun in 2004.
The exhibition features 28 children from the state’s Special Needs Adoption Program (SNAP) who are living in foster care across the state. There are 341 SNAP children now awaiting adoption.
Twenty professional photographers from the area donated their time and talent to create the portraits of children and sibling pairs.
Governor Ernie Fletcher, who has proclaimed November Adoption Awareness Month, said the gallery shines the spotlight on adoption.
“These touching portraits show the public the many faces of foster care – the children who need a family and a home of their own,” he said. “A family considering adoption may see one of these pictures and decide it’s time to begin the process.”
Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell said his agency staff considers the best interest of the children in state care when they recruit adoptive families.
“SNAP children cannot return home because of safety or neglect issues, but they can still have a happy home life once they find their ‘forever families.’ This portrait gallery helps us raise public awareness of adoption and answer questions for families thinking about starting that journey.”
Since 1979, SNAP has been recruiting adoptive families for Kentucky’s harder to place foster children – many of whom are older, have medical needs or are part of sibling groups. The children have been featured in the SNAP photo book, in Web profiles and on WLKY’s Wednesday’s Child segments.
Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Tom Emberton Jr. called the gallery one of the more innovative recruitment tools his staff has implemented.
“The Shining Star Gallery is a successful example of how our community partnerships can pay off,” he said. “Wednesday’s Child is a great asset to our recruitment network, and this group works tirelessly to find homes for these special children.”
Emberton also praised the 20 photographers who donated their time to the gallery, many for the third time.
“There has been a tremendous response from the general public regarding these photos and this gallery,” he said. “We couldn’t have asked for a more poignant collection of photos.”
The photos are also being used on the SNAP Web site.
Since 2004, nine children who have been featured in the gallery have been adopted.
Of the almost 7,000 children in out-of-home care, more than 1,900 have the goal of adoption, which means they can’t be reunited with their families because of abuse, neglect and other safety issues.
The Shining Star Gallery will be on display at the Jefferson County Judicial Center, 700 W. Jefferson St., through November. The portraits will be exhibited at other Louisville locations later this year.
Business owners may call (502) 595-KIDS or (800) 928-4303 to learn more about hosting the Shining Star Photo Gallery and helping find loving families for these and other children.
Photographers contributing to the exhibit are: Bruce Anderson, Clinton Bennett, Ron Burgis, Geoff Carr, Debbi Davis, Laura Faber, John Gleason, Karen Herold, Vivian Knox-Thompson, Dean Lavenson, David Modica, James Moses, John Nation, Debra Rose, Patrick Pfister, Regina Thomas, Sam Upshaw, Keith Williams, Martha Work and Yono.
For more information about SNAP, log on to www.chfs.ky.gov/snap or www.wednesdayschild.com.