Photos of Michigan children awaiting adoptive families featured in Heart Gallery exhibit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 9, 2019                   

MDHHS CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

MARE CONTACT: Michelle Parra, 734-528-2038

LANSING, Mich. – The 2019 Heart Gallery featuring a photographic exhibit of 140 Michigan children in foster care who are seeking forever families through adoption will be unveiled Saturday, April 13, at Emagine Theater in Royal Oak.

This grand opening will launch the statewide photographic tour showcasing many of Michigan’s youth awaiting adoption from foster care.

The Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE), a program of the Judson Center, organizes the exhibit for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Fifty professional photographers from throughout the state donated their time and talents to make the 2019 Heart Gallery possible. 

The grand opening is from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the theater, 200 N. Main St., Royal Oak. The event is open to the public, but attendees are asked to register in advance by visiting or calling 800-589-6273 .

“We hope the Heart Gallery will encourage people to consider adopting children from Michigan’s foster care system,” said Jennifer Wrayno, interim executive director of the Children’s Services Agency at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “Behind the faces featured in the Heart Gallery are children who want and need loving, permanent homes.”

Guest speakers for Saturday’s’ event will include Stacie Bladen, deputy director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency; Alicia Smith, morning anchor of Channel 7 WXYZ; and Lenora Hardy-Foster, CEO of Judson Center. Festivities will include a video presentation on the big screen highlighting teens in need of adoptive families followed by a luncheon reception and gallery viewing.

“The 2019 Heart Gallery Grand Opening strives to raise awareness for adoption of older youth,” said MARE program manager Michelle Parra. “This year’s Heart Gallery video emphasizes the hope for a forever family for the Michigan youth who are in foster care.”

To learn more about the Michigan Heart Gallery, visit or call 800-589-6273 .

MARE is an information and referral service for prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting children from foster care and for adoption workers looking for homes for these children. The MARE website,, includes biographies of children who are available for adoption and lists additional events occurring throughout the state in the upcoming year.

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