Heart Gallery: Helping Foster Children Find FOREVER FAMILIES; Part Three of Interview with Barbara Schechter

By AbbyA

As we move into our final week of Luck v. Faith, we are sharing with you a wonderful organization that brings foster children to forever families through photography.  Barbara Schechter is the Executive Director of Heart Gallery.  In addition to sharing about Heart Gallery, Barbara gives her comments on luck, faith and ministering to foster kids.

“I don’t attribute finding a forever family to luck because I do believe that God has a plan for each of us and that the Heart Gallery helps to carry out His plan for these children.”    Barbara Schechter

Describe that first phone call to Heart Gallery when a family reaches out to adopt a particular child.  Is it your experience that families feel that fate or God’s will is at work in bringing a new child into their family? 

There are two types of callers – those who are already licensed and looking to find a specific child and those who have just started thinking about adoption and know little or nothing about the process. People who are looking for a specific child have often fallen in love with a picture, but are confident in their desire to adopt. They have been through a long, thorough process so they know that adoption is what they want. The new people usually have some fear or uncertainty about adopting a child from foster care and need to better understand what to expect. Bringing a stranger into your family forever can be a scary thing to do and there’s always a fear that the match will not work out. It’s a journey that not everyone is prepared for. Christian families usually believe that it is God’s will for them to adopt and they prayerfully consider this big step vs. the alternative of going with one’s gut instinct.

You mentioned to me that some people don’t even realize that they are called to adopt.  Please elaborate on that.

This applies to both adoption and foster parenting. Christians consider it a calling and they are obedient to the call. They don’t give up on difficult children and they understand when the outcome is not what they would have wanted. The best example of this is people who do foster-to-adopt, which greatly increases one’s chances to adopt a younger child. Because foster parents are usually given the first opportunity to adopt when a child in their care becomes available, many people foster with the hope or expectation that they will be able to adopt that child. When it doesn’t work out, either the child is reunited with their birth parents or a relative comes forward to adopt, many people find this hard to accept because they have bonded with the child and their hopes are dashed. Christians generally understand that God is in control and that the outcome is His will. Many non-Christians find this ‘gamble’ too difficult to take.

If a family is not ready to adopt, but wants to get involved in the Heart Gallery, how can they help? 

Our mantra is that everyone can do something to help a foster child. If a family is not prepared to foster or adopt, they can donate gently used items to a foster care agency or volunteer to help at an event for foster children. There are a number of opportunities for people who want to have a closer relationship with a foster child, including tutoring or mentoring (Note- The agencies do not allow children under the age of 15 to volunteer directly with the foster children). Mentoring is a top priority right now, as children need a constant adult in their life who is not paid to supervise them. Mentors are a combination of trusted friend and parent surrogate. Moreover, as the child gets older, the mentor can be the safety net that the child needs when they are on their own – a trusted relationship. The Heart Gallery compiles a guide to volunteering with foster children that is available on the home page of our web site, www.heartgalleryofbroward.org.  Or if you’d like to volunteer to help with Heart Gallery events, please contact me. We’d love to get you involved!

If you are interested in getting involved with Heart Gallery, tune in for the rest of the week for more of Barbara Schechter’s interview.  You can also visit www.heartgalleryofbroward.org or call or email Barbara directly.  Tel: 954-918-3008 or barbara@heartgalleryofbroward.org.

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