ENMU exhibit puts face on plight of state children awaiting adoption

By Casey Peacock: Freedom Newspapers

Combining art with heart, a photographic exhibit featuring children in New Mexico awaiting adoption opens Saturday at Eastern New Mexico University’s Golden Library,.

The exhibit offers the public the opportunity to view photos of children, who are waiting to be adopted.

Hoping to raise awareness, the Heart Gallery provides a venue to share the need for foster and adoptive parents, said Renee Fitts, Children, Youth and Families Department foster and adoptive parent recruiter.

“It’s definitely a very moving and inspiring event,” said Fitts. “The importance of having the Heart Gallery is to photograph the faces of foster children who are looking for a forever home,” said Fitts.

November is National Adoption Month, which is a way to help honor those children who are adopted and those awaiting adoption, says Fitts.

Foster and adoptive families as well as CYFD staff will also be in attendance to answer questions about adoption, said Fitts.

Gaining national attention since it’s inception in 2001, the exhibit has had a good success rate for placement, Fitts said. Traveling to other locations throughout New Mexico has proven beneficial for this year’s tour with three children being adopted, Fitts said.

“It’s definitely a success and growing every year,” Fitts said.

At any given time in New Mexico, there are approximately 2,000 children who are in foster care, due to neglect or abuse, Fitts said. There are more 300 children who are waiting to be adopted, according to the recruiter. Increasing numbers of children being placed in the system are a growing concern for the department, said Fitts.
Photographers from across the state have helped to make the exhibit a success by taking the photos, Fitts said.

Local photographer Greg Erf has been involved with the project for the last three years. Photographing children from the eastern side of the state has allowed Erf the opportunity to give back, he said.

“I’m glad to help, Erf said. “It makes me appreciative of what I’ve got.”