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 met through the Heart Gallery are foster children, and can only live with families who have a foster care license. More information is available about foster care licensing at our next Foster Care Licensing Orientation, which are held the second and fourth Thursday of each month. To learn when the next Licensing Orientation will be held, call us at (661) 631-6204, or toll free from outlying areas at (888) 632-6673.

Once a child is placed with your family, and you have decided to proceed toward adoption, your family will need an Adoption Home Study. The Kern County DHS Adoption Agency will complete this study at no cost to you. Adoption orientation is held the last Wednesday of each month at the Adoption Agency, 3041 Wilson Road in Bakersfield. To learn more about the Adoption Orientation, please call (661) 631-6006.

When you attend both the Foster Care Licensing Orientation, and the Adoption Orientation, please let our staff know that you are interested in pursuing adoption of a child you met through the Heart Gallery. This will allow us to expedite your license, and your home study.

If you are interested in getting to know a specific child,visits can be arranged while the licensing and home study process are taking place. To arrange these visits, please contact the Adoption Agency Program Director at (661) 868-8901.


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 Foster Family Licensing you can download brochures by clicking on the links below:

Adoption - English Brochure

Adoption - Spanish Brochure

Families Formed With Love - English Brochure

Families Formed With Love - Spanish Brochure

List of Adoption Resource books available - download PDF