Photography Powers Adoption

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[New York Watch]

DMC identified all too well with the pictures of smiling children that covered the walls surrounding him at a recent event.

For years he climbed the stairs of success; known for his collaboration in the hip hop group RUN-DMC. On November 10 the hip-hop legend represented more than platinum albums, or his membership in the Rock Hall of Fame. He spoke at
The Heart Gallery NYC National Adoption Month Exhibition, as Darryl McDaniels, a man who was once a foster child.

The Heart Gallery NYC is a nationwide exhibition that unites top photographers in order to take pictures of children in foster homes. The pictures reveal the uniqueness and individuality of each child in hopes of connecting them with a “forever family.”

The New York branch of the heart gallery partners with the New York City Administration of Children’s Services (ACS) and Casey Family Programs. Heart NYC 2010, held at the Times Square Visiting Center, featured 100 children, mainly teenagers; siblings looking to be placed together, and children with special needs, waiting adoption.

McDaniels was one of the more fortunate children. His journey with a new and loving family began at the age of five. At the event, 41 years after his own experience, he was now at The Heart Gallery NYC exhibit and able to say: “I represent what happens when you give a kid, a family--when kids age out what do you think happens to them? They don’t receive any government aid … Many of them end up in jail or mental institutions.”

Miguel Olivarez was able to overcome the negative consequences of “aging out” the system. Olivarez is a junior at Lehman College and is pursuing a career in social work. At 20 years old, Olivarez has one more year before he is independent and released into adulthood. He says he fell short of his dream of being adopted, when his last foster mom passed away.

Standing before a room filled with almost 300 people, he reassured the audience that every foster child deserves parents. “Being in foster care gives you hope to one day have a family. I myself am 20, anyone willing to adopt me?” Olivarez said, with a smile.

According to The Heart Gallery NYC there are almost 17, 000 children living in foster care in the state of New York. Partner Casey Families program is optimistic that the statistic will decrease. They say their goal is to safely reduce the number of kids in foster care by 50 percent as of 2020.

McDaniels says The Heart Gallery NYC is only the beginning. “We need to create programs that will smooth them into their adulthood. If it just takes a little picture what more can you do. Let’s give them the discipline and the instruction they need.”

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