Jonesboro -- The newly formed Craighead County Adoption Coalition is trying to reach out to potential foster families and adoptive parents. The group is introducing a new traveling exhibit called "The Heart Gallery." It's an exhibit of seventeen photos of children currently in the foster family and available for adoption. Statewide, there are around 450 children available for adoption. Jonesboro's Gallery is the newest of three in Arkansas.
The Heart Gallery has not been an easy thing to put together. Dia Sawyer, an adoptive parent through private adoption, had seen the "Heart Gallery" in other communities across the country. She spearheaded an effort to create a local version.
Coalition organizers say it's been difficult to get workers with the Department of Child and Family Services to release the names of children in the foster care system who are available for adoption. But DCFS says they are working to correct that problem. They say the two biggest hold-ups have been getting permission from the children and from the foster parents. DCFS has named Alicen Bennett to serve as the coordinator between their agency and the Coalition. Bennett says she expects the process to run more smoothly as she is able to help work out some of the problems.