About Us

The Kids

For every child in the gallery, there is an individual story and an individual hope. But the goal is the same: to find forever families that will accept them, love them, and care for them for the rest of their lives. The mission of the Heart Gallery reaches beyond the kids in the exhibit and into the community, hoping to raise awareness in Kern County about the need for adoptive and fostering homes for teens, siblings, and children with special needs. What the Gallery hopes to accomplish is a greater understanding about the children in our foster care system, removing the stigma that is often attached to them. The portraits do that by capturing the spirit of the child, allowing potential parents to look into the Heart of the child and past the stereotypes.

The History of the Heart Gallery

In 2001, at the suggestion of Santa Fe photographer and adoptive mother Cathy Maier Callanan, the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) brought the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” to life at the nation’s first Heart Gallery exhibit. Since then, the Heart Gallery model has been followed around the nation and found homes for many children who were considered “hard to place’ due to their age, their special needs, or the fact that they were brothers and sisters hoping to be adopted together. 

Heart Gallery - What's The Next Step?

Thank you for the time you spent getting to know our children through Kern County’s Heart Gallery. Now that you have decided you would like more information about adopting a child or youth from the Foster Care System, there are a few simple steps you can take.

All of the children you meet through the Heart Gallery are foster children, and can only live with families who have been approved as a Family Resource Home. More information is available about how to become a Resource Family at one of our Resource Family Approval (RFA) Orientations, which are held the second and fourth Thursday of each month. Orientations are also available in Spanish. To learn when the next RFA Orientation will be held, call us at (661) 631-6204.

When you are approved as a Resource Family, please let our staff know that you are interested in pursuing adoption of a child you met through the Heart Gallery. 

If you are interested in getting to know a specific child, visits can be arranged while you go through the Resource Family Approval process. To find out more information about visits, please contact the Adoption Agency Program Director at (661) 873-2410.

You may also submit your inquiry on-line by completing the information located in the Contact Us page of this website.


Do I have to be married to adopt?

No. Adoptive parents can be single or married, male or female.

Am I too old or too young to adopt?

The general rule is that an adoptive parent must be at least 10 years older than the child they are wishing to adopt. Many grandparents or retired people are also adopting children today.

Do I have to be wealthy to adopt?

No. While independent adoptions through a private adoption agency generally cost thousands of dollars, the County Adoption Agency adoptions are done at no cost to those adopting.

Is financial and medical assistance available?

While prospective adoptive families need to be self-supporting, most children adopted through the Agency are eligible for financial assistance and Medi-Cal through the Adoption Assistance Program. Assistance is based on need and may continue until the child is age 18, and in extreme cases until they turn 21. The program is designed to allow children to be adopted rather than remain in foster care.

To learn more about Adoption or the Resource Family Approval process you can download brochures by clicking on the links below:

Adoption - English Brochure

Adoption - Spanish Brochure

Frequently Asked Questions about Adoptions Brochure

Families Formed With Love - (RFA) English Brochure

Families Formed With Love - (RFA) Spanish Brochure

Adoption - Spanish FAQ's

List of Adoption Resource books available - download PDF