Older foster children left by wayside


TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – More than 100,000 foster children are legally available for adoption and in need of adoptive families.

Many of these children are older, in sibling groups that want to be adopted together or have special needs. Seeing these numbers, the Indiana Department of Child Services decided they needed to try something new to help find more kids families.

For some foster kids, getting adopted will mean the difference between homelessness and incarceration and becoming a successful, happy adult.

‘For us to be able to raise productive citizens to show them what a loving family is like and what a home, a forever home, is like. To have structure, routine and to know there’s going to be food and heat. Just that security will breed love for them,” said Kristi Cundiff, adoption champion, children’s bureau.

Nearly 400,000 children are in foster care in the United States, a quarter can be adopted.

Unfortunately, the older foster children are usually left by the wayside. That’s where the Heart Gallery comes in.

Since 2007, it’s a traveling photographic exhibit displaying the pleading faces of foster kids.

“Most of the children you see in the heart gallery are nine, ten, eleven or older. As time goes on, they’re realizing it’s a struggle for them to find a home,” said Steve Brown, gallery facilitator.

The Indiana Department of Child Services says the Heart Gallery’s extremely important to their cause.

“We’ve had a rising number of children in foster care, but also ones in need of adoptive families,” said Jessica Rice, Indiana Department of Child Services. “It’s not just data and numbers. These are children we work with every day. The work we do impacts these lives forever.”

And these children are just a few.

“At any one time, there are hundreds of children in the state that are in this situation that are available for adoption,” said Brown.

The state of Indiana has definitely reaped the rewards of using this somewhat different adoption method.

“We’ve had several children in the last six months that have been matched up through this program and it’s wonderful when I get a call and they say, ‘will you take this picture down? Because they’ve been adopted,’” said Brown.

“You get those success stories, you see the smiles on their faces and it reminds you why you get up and come to work,” said Rice.

The Indiana Heart Gallery is on display in the Hulman Center until Sunday at 5 p.m.

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