OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Waiting Child Heart Gallery is on display on the first floor east hallway of the state Capitol building until July 6, 2012. The gallery is a traveling photographic exhibit that was created to help find families for children in permanent custody.
Fifty of Oklahoma's finest photographers donate their time and talent to create beautiful black-and-white portraits of some of the hundreds of Oklahoma children waiting for adoption. The photos are displayed at various venues across the state and written comments from each photographer accompany each image. OKDHS photographers Caroline Miller and Kyle Chaufty have participated in this effort for several years.
KTUL News Channel 8 in Tulsa, Wendy's Wonderful Kids (a program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption), Apertures Photography and OKDHS are the co-sponsors of the traveling exhibit. The powerful images and the stories behind them have helped hundreds of children and youth find adoptive families.
"Every picture tells a story," says Linda C. Thomas, OKDHS Swift Adoption Services. "These children are waiting for a permanent home. Through no fault of their own, they came into custody because of abuse or neglect. These children need a family who can meet their needs."
Gay Larson of KTUL-TV in Tulsa brought the idea for the Waiting Child Heart Gallery to OKDHS after seeing a similar display in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2001. The following year, Oklahoma became the second state in the nation to offer its own gallery of portraits of children in permanent care. Each exhibit tours the state for two years. This year's gallery of photographs has been on display at the Tulsa State Fair and the historic Greenwood Cultural Center as well as in churches and malls in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Enid, Muskogee, Shawnee and Lawton. Following its month-long stop at the Capitol, it will be on display in Norman.
"Each family that is approved and authorized for a child or children will be provided disclosure information to help determine if they can meet the needs of the child or children," says Thomas. "We have photographs of up to 50 children of all ages, including sibling groups. Each photograph represents a waiting child. We hope this exhibit reminds people about the number of waiting children who are available for adoption."
To become an adoptive parent, you must be at least 21 years old and financially stable. You do not have to own your home and you can be single or married. OKDHS can help with the expenses associated with adoption through monthly adoption assistance for sibling groups, teenagers and children with emotional, developmental or special medical needs.
For more information about adoption, call the Bridge Family Resource Center at 1-800-376-9729 or visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the OKDHS website (link opens in new window).