Adoption Matching Event Climbs New Heights
With the Heart Gallery of Sarasota and Safe Children Coalition
In recognition of National Adoption Month in November, the Heart Gallery of Sarasota hosted a high-flying adoption recruitment event at TreeUmph, an outdoor adventure course, where the Safe Children Coalition’s adoption team and prospective adoptive families could meet children currently available for adoption while testing out their trapeze and aerial climbing skills.
The idea behind the in-person adoption recruitment event was to help find forever homes for children in foster care by providing an opportunity for mingling, talking and participating in activities with prospective adoptive parents. Being able to see the child for who he or she really is in a fun environment allows both the prospective parent and the child to find a connection beyond the adoption process.
TreeUmph donated the entrance fee for 30 people to the Heart Gallery of Sarasota, an organization that recruits adoptive parents through photographic exhibits in high-traffic venues and on its website of children in foster care. “Our team of professional photographers, led by Peter Acker, inspire parents to adopt by capturing the essence of a child’s spirit in a more genuine and comfortable setting. They choose their favorite image, sometimes it’s a pose in a backbend or in a race with their siblings, and it is often the only photograph they have,” commented, Allison Juceam, the Heart Gallery of Sarasota’s Executive Director.
Of the over 1100 children in foster care in Sarasota’s Judicial Circuit, which includes Manatee and Desoto counties, most have experienced trauma in their brief lives. The 10 children who participated between the ages of 11 and 17, were those who wanted to experience the adventure course but also wanted a greater a sense of involvement and control in their adoption process. It also brought out a special kind of camaraderie for the children who their found friends from group homes where they once lived.
“The energy required to overcome the obstacle course and zip lines far outweighed any concern we had about the children feeling at ease meeting potential families Their attention was focused on the training provided by the expert TreeUmph staff about tree climbing and harness safety and not falling out of a tree, “ according to Amy Chamberlain, adoption specialist at the Safe Children Coalition, the lead agency in our area that manages foster care and adoptions.
Parents felt that the event at TreeUmph made them more flexible about sibling groups as well as the age and gender of the child they originally had thought about adopting. “Regardless of the background of these kiddos, when they are at play, they are just kids who need love and stability,” reported one parent.