A stylist to help you choose a new outfit, hair and makeup done by professionals, followed by a photo shoot and a video interview. That’s perhaps a normal day for a celebrity, but it was a special event for 25 children in Miami-Dade’s foster-care system who briefly received the celebrity treatment.
The youngsters’ photographs will be displayed online at The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery, a multimedia exhibit that since 2009 has showcased Miami-Dade foster children.
“We decided to put the gallery online so parents who are looking to adopt can learn a little bit about the child and see if they might be a good fit,” said Emily Cardenas, communications director of The Children’s Trust. “Having the gallery online also opens up and can connect adoptive parents and kids from across the country.”
Evony Viera, 13, and her older brother, Daniel Kamp, 15, currently live apart in separate foster homes. The siblings both hope to find a loving family who will adopt them.
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Evony said during the photo shoot that she “didn’t like makeup, but that today she would.” She and her brother are shy and were somewhat uncomfortable with all the attention they suddenly got Monday morning from the photographers.
The photo shoot took place at the University of Miami with the help of dozens of volunteers. It is the fourth time that professional makeup artist Lisa Horwitz has participated.
“I usually help women get ready for the most important day in their lives: their wedding day,” Horwitz said. “So being able to have a child feel beautiful and special, even if it’s for just one day, makes me feel happy. I love doing it.”
Heather Funk is a professional photographer who has previously volunteered to take photos of the youngsters. She and her husband have adopted three foster children.
“The Miami Heart Gallery is a good way to get a brief glimpse of the kids, but every child is different,” Funk said. “My advice to parents looking to adopt foster kids is to educate themselves on trauma and attachment disorder; every child is unique.”
Funk said there are many educational resources available on the web for parents looking to adopt foster children. She recommends www.attachment.org as a good site to learn more.
“Often adoptive parents think they are helping change the life of the kid, but in reality they change your life and help you grow,” Funk said.
▪ Gallery website: www.miamiheartgallery.org.