By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Heart Gallery is celebrating 15 years of introducing children who are eligible for adoption to people interested in adoption. The Gallery is a display of professionally done portraits, narratives and videos of children living in foster care.

Since 2005, the Colorado Heart Gallery has featured 845 children and teens who are waiting to be adopted. More than 60 professional photographers volunteer their time and skills to take the pictures. The pictures are updated yearly, and sometimes are the only pictures these youths have of their childhood.

“It was a first for me. I had never been in a photo shoot,” said Jarimiah, of his Heart Gallery photo shoot when he was 9-years-old.

Colorado Heart Gallery Website (credit CBS)

It was that picture that drew the attention of Jon, Jarimiah’s adoptive father.

“I saw his picture, and read his little blurb, and called his case worker, and that was it. Got things rolling,” Jon told CBS4.

Jon saw Jarimiah’s picture two times, once on the Website, and once on display at an event at the Museum of Nature and Science. The Colorado Heart Gallery started out as a traveling display, and still occasionally is set up in public areas upon request. All of the pictures, narratives, and videos are also on the Website, and have been viewed more than 600,000 times.

“The picture was well done,” Jon recalled. “really caught him in a playful mood.”

Jarimiah had been living in foster care since he was 2-years-old, and he was ready for his forever family.

“I wanted to be adopted. There’s no doubt about that,” Jarimiah told CBS4.

Jon & Jarimiah (credit CBS)

Jarimiah is 18-years old now, he’s been adopted for the last 9-years. He’s grateful for all the opportunities that he’s had while being a part of a family.

“My fathers introduced me to a lot of things,” he said.

Natalie Coronado is an Adoption Recruiter for Arapahoe County Human Services. She’s been working with children in foster care for the better part of 18-years, and before that she was a child who lived in foster care.

“I feel like I bring a different perspective to the work that we do,” Coronado told CBS4.

She knows firsthand how important a professional photo shoot and a place in the Colorado Heart Gallery can be.

“They become very much empowered by taking steps to participate in these events, so they can try to find their own family, and have their voice be heard,” she explained.

As they say, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”, and in this case led to life-long love and support.

Libby Smith