Heart Gallery Aims To Find Texoma Children Forever Families

221 children in our area are waiting to be adopted.

In an effort to put a face on that number, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services started the Heart Gallery.

Newschannel 6 Lindsey Rogers got a preview of the portraits you will soon be seeing around town.

Child abuse rates in Wichita and Montague counties are almost twice the state average.

Which means we have an overwhelming number of kids being placed in foster care.

"So this problem isn't happening over seas it isn't something happening in another state right here in our back yard and we need to take care of it," Heart Gallery committee chair Suzanne Stone said.

There are only 29 licensed foster homes in our area, not nearly enough.

If a child doesn't find a permanent home by the time they turn 13, it's very unlikely they ever will.

"Most of the children who age out of foster care don't have a great life ahead of them. Most don't graduate from high school. Most don't go to college. Most turn to drugs and over half will be homeless in two years. Those are scary statistics," Stone said.

In an effort to find these children a place they can call home, the Heart Gallery was formed.

Photographers from across the state including one from Wichita Falls, donated their time and services to showcase hundreds of Texas foster children.

"They highlight not just what that child looks like but hopefully brings out the personality of the child and really tells you a little bit about who they are as an individual so people realize that these are more than just numbers. These are real children who live right here in our community and need a forever home," Stone said.

To protect the children, those living in our area will be in Heart Galleries in other parts of the state.

Over the next few months, we'll be seeing about 30 portraits displayed in various businesses and churches around town.

To kick off the third annual Heart Gallery of Northwest Texas all the portraits will be showcased Tuesday night at one location.

It's from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Kemp Center for the Arts.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Last year, six families signed up to be adoptive or foster parents at the event.

Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6