Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot

It was a typical summer’s day in the South—with heat and humidity that felt like a sauna. But the temperature didn’t hold us back. Today, it was all hands on deck for the SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC.

 

Staff and volunteers showed up early to set out coolers of bottled water and juice and boxes cookies and chips for the children to enjoy during their time with us. Several volunteer photographers prepared their equipment and scouted various locations throughout the park where they would soon be photographing children. Likewise, our videographer set up under a tent in a quiet area away from the noise of the rest of the group.

 

One at a time, the children and their caseworkers began to arrive. Some were a little nervous, while others were just excited about the experience. It was obvious that each child had worn their favorite outfit; they wanted to look their best for the potential adoptive families who would be seeing these photographs.

 

Each child was assigned a photographer and a staff member to ask questions about their likes and preferences; their answers would be used in a profile to accompany their photos. What do they want to be when they grow up? What is their favorite subject in school? Who is their role model?

 

Before long, we were in full swing. The photographers hardly got a break—as soon as one session finished up, they started off with another child. Each child who was photographed was also interviewed on camera, capturing footage that would be used to create his or her own individual video. By 2pm, everyone was exhausted from the heat but—at the same time—uplifted and encouraged by the children we had met.

 

In total, 18 children participated in that SC Heart Gallery photo shoot in Greenville. This number is in addition to 94 children who were photographed and 70 who were videotaped by the Heart Gallery from January to June this year. The photos and videos captured during these sessions are gateways to adoption for these children—keys to permanent placement with a family of their own.

 

For the opportunity to serve children in this way is truly a blessing.

 

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

 

A Hidden Hero: Kim Holmes

The foster care/adoption world isn’t an easy one to navigate. It can be filled with frustration, heartbreak and tears just as often as it can success and joy. It takes exceptional individuals to navigate the system and fight day in and day out for these children. From caseworkers to non-profits to advocates, they passionately believe in a permanent family out there for every waiting child.

 

In honor of those who fight to match children with these families, this month the SC Heart Gallery Foundation blog is dedicated to these “hidden heroes”. This week, we are proud to recognize Kim Holmes, DSS Adoption Specialist with Region III Adoptions.

 

Holmes

After growing up in rural Johns Island, Kim studied pre-law in college and then found herself working at DSS which, which she says was only supposed to be for only a year or two. Today, Kim has been with DSS for 26 years.

 

A highlight of her career was the “Luggage Of Love” campaign with Region III Adoptions, in which luggage was donated and used to help children move as needed. Kim had the vision to start the initiative and enlisted the help of another adoption worker to help get it off the ground.

 

She explains, “When many of my children were being moved from a foster to adoptive homes, I grew tired of their belongings being handed to me in black garbage bags.”

 

“The result was overwhelming, as we now have several pieces of luggage for children as they transition from foster care to adoption,” she adds.

 

Kim says that she always found it particularly sad when a child didn’t have a family of their own—not only to the child but to their self esteem as well.

 

“I have a passion for older teens as they always feel as though their chance at a family is a lost cause and that no one will want them after a certain age,” Kim says. “Teens are no different than anyone else. They are at the critical stage where they need someone in their life before stepping into adulthood.”

 

Fitting to the name “hidden hero”, Kim is truly a selfless servant in her role with children.

 

She explains, “You have to have compassion for what you do and understand that sometimes your day will not perfectly end at 5pm…In the end, that child will appreciate what you do for them. The reward that I get is at the finalization hearing in the form of silent tears. It gives me joy to see children smiling and bonding with their new family. When we hug each other after the sound of the judge’s gavel hitting the bench, it merely means that I am passing the DSS torch to the new family with the understanding that they will continue to be the light in the eyes of these young souls and help them become responsible productive adults one day.”

 

Thank you, Kim, for your selfless service to South Carolina’s waiting children.

 

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

 

A Hidden Hero: Kylee

The foster care/adoption world isn’t an easy one to navigate. It can be filled with frustration, heartbreak and tears just as often as it can success and joy. It takes exceptional individuals to navigate the system and fight day in and day out for these children. From caseworkers to non-profits to advocates, these people passionately believe in a permanent family out there for every waiting child.

 

In honor of those who fight to match children with these families, this month the SC Heart Gallery Foundation blog is dedicated to these “hidden heroes”. Though we know there are hundreds out there, we will be identifying jut a few of them each week.

 

As an older sister to four adopted children and a young adult pursing a career in social work, Kylee started the blog “Learning to Abandon” at age 16. Now a 21-year-old college graduate, her blog is still a powerful advocacy platform for adoption. That’s why Kylee is our hidden hero of the week.

 

Blog

Click here to read her family’s story.

 

You can also read her thoughts on aging out of foster care here. Here’s a brief snippet:

 

“One respondent said she had entered foster care at the age of two months and had ultimately ended up aging out of foster care, something that happens at either 18 or 21 years of age, depending on the state.

How is this okay? How is our system so messed up that a child is involved with the state for their entire childhood? Somewhere along the line, permanency plans are failing miserably.”

 

Or hear her answer to the question What was it like growing up with foster siblings in your home?” over at Foster 2 Forever’s website,from which we pulled the following insight:

 

“My family grew and then shrunk again on a regular basis and the family calendar was filled with court dates, parent visits, and caseworker meetings … I saw and understood injustice from a young age and I struggled with the evil I saw, but I also learned a million lessons and developed attributes that I believe I would not have today, had my parents chosen to keep the doors of our home closed.”

 

The South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation supports the work of the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which is a collaborative program administered and supported by the Foster Care Review Board, Office of the Governor and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.