May is National Foster Care Month, and a new gallery in Atlantic Terminal addresses the critical need for foster families throughout the city.
Several children in need of “forever families” joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and other distinguished guests to help launch Heart Gallery NYC’s newest photo exhibit. More than 50 photographs of New York City’s children in foster care, taken by celebrity photographers, will be on display from May 18 through June 15 to help find families for children currently in care with HeartShare Human Services of New York.
“Every child placed with a loving family will have the chance to reach the peak of their God-given potential,” said Markowitz. “It’s so important that these children are given the opportunity to succeed.”
The goal of the photo exhibit is to match each child on display with a family, and create awareness for the more than 13,000 New York City children in foster care, of which about one-third live in Brooklyn.
“It would be fun to have parents who take care of me and do things with me,” said Angel, 12, one of the foster children on hand for the event.
Norma Forde, Site Director for HeartShare Human Services of New York's Brooklyn Foster Care Program, also said that a specific initiative in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill will be taking place to find foster families in the neighborhood for gay youth or those questioning their sexuality.
“You get people who come through the system that want to adopt, but don’t want to adopt a child who’s LGBTQQ,” said Forde. “We wanted to create awareness that there’s a huge population of children in the foster care system that are often ignored because they’re adolescents, or turned away by some families for simply being who they are.”
Marcel S. Kersey, who has recently aged out of the foster care system, said he experienced conflict with his foster family at the age of 16 due to his sexuality.
“The woman who adopted me was a church-going woman, and said she didn’t want me because I was gay,” said Kersey. “It made me feel like nobody loved me or wanted me, so I tell kids who are in the system to be themselves. No one should be able to take who you are away from you.”
The Heart Gallery NYC exhibit is in collaboration with HeartShare Human Services, in cooperation with the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. The Long Island Rail Road is hosting the exhibit.