The Michigan Heart Gallery will be on display at the adoption festival Aug. 8 at Veterans Memorial Park, 32400 Jefferson Ave.

The Michigan Heart Gallery will be on display at the adoption festival Aug. 8 at Veterans Memorial Park, 32400 Jefferson Ave.

Photo provided by the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange


Adoption festival coming to St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 31, 2018

 Heather, a child in foster care available for adoption, has her image in the Michigan Heart Gallery.

Heather, a child in foster care available for adoption, has her image in the Michigan Heart Gallery.

Photo by Lisa Hodack, provided by the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange

 Bradley, a child in foster care, is available for adoption.

Bradley, a child in foster care, is available for adoption.

Photo by Renee Aleisa, provided by the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Across the state, hundreds of children are looking for a family to call their own. 

But getting the adoption process started can seem intimidating. 

This month, the 28th annual Adoption Festival and Family Fun Day will seek to break down those barriers and spread information to families interested in learning more about adoption, specifically the process of adopting a child from the foster care system.

With agencies in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, the Tri-County Kinship Coalition works to find homes for youths in the foster care system who are available for adoption. 

The Adoption Festival and Family Fun Day will be held at Veterans Memorial Park, 32400 Jefferson Ave., beginning at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8. Adoption professionals will be on hand to answer questions, some youths available for adoption will be present, and the Michigan Heart Gallery will be on display.

The Michigan Heart Gallery is a traveling photo display of older youths available for adoption. In all, 143 youths have had their photos taken by 55 volunteer photographers for the exhibit.

Jessica Thompson, recruitment specialist for the Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange, or MARE, a program of the Judson Center, said that it’s a great time to come and meet some of the youths available for adoption in person and see that they’re just like any other child.

MARE works with adoption agencies across the state to provide information and referrals to families that are looking to adopt through the foster care system. 

Along with adoption professionals, there will be carnival and yard games for visitors to enjoy before the weekly Wednesday night Music on the Lake concert in the park begins at 7 p.m. Air Margaritaville, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, plays that night.

Thompson said that MARE gets calls from people in all stages of the adoption process.

“We get calls a lot from people starting out, (we) transfer them to adoption navigators, experienced parents who have adopted,” she said. “We’re like the information hub.”

The festival has been held all over metro Detroit, including several years in Detroit. 

“Macomb County, I think, needs a little more awareness,” she said. 

Although Activities Committee Chair Dave Rubello adopted his daughter, Sasha, from Ukraine in 2007, when she was 7 years old, he said he promised then to do whatever he could to support the cause of adoption. 

“We knew what it was like. The difficulties and the questions,” he said. “You don’t know where to go and you don’t know where to turn. These people are all there to answer your questions right now.

“If I can get one kid adopted, I’ll have done my job.”