FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 7, 2017



Somer Flowers, SC Heart Gallery Foundation Board Member





The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption® Program, will honor Greenvillian Clark Smith at an awards ceremony on September 26 and gala on September 27 in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Trey Gowdy (SC-04) congratulated Mr. Smith for his outstanding advocacy as Chairman of South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation.

“Congratulations to our Angel in Adoption, Clark Smith, Chairman of the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation. Through his passion for video production and his heart for foster children, he has opened the door for hundreds of families looking into adoption. His impact on the lives of South Carolina’s foster care community is immeasurable.”

“The Angels in Adoption® Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,600 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI.

Clark Smith is being honored because his extensive background in video production, business development, and marketing has made an incredible impact on children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. Clark has chaired the South Carolina Heart Gallery Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, since January 2009.  The Foundation provides media and marketing support for the South Carolina Heart Gallery, which recruits adoptive families for children in foster care. In 2014, Clark began filming live interviews with the children who attended Heart Gallery photo shoots. The ability to virtually meet the children led to a significant increase in child-specific inquiries, as well as to hundreds more potential families applying to adopt. Many foster children have been matched with their forever family simply as a result of the video interview Clark facilitated.

The Angels in Adoption® Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 120 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoption® Program.

The Angels in Adoption® Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.

CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit



The Power of Video

If you’ve been following our blog or Facebook page for a while now, you’ve probably already seen some of the individual child profile videos that we’re creating. Yes, they’re fun. They are also heartwarming and powerful—mainly because the children in foster care in our state are so awesome.


But our decision to move into videos was strategic for other reasons as well. Here’s some of the research behind why the SC Heart Gallery Foundation videos have been so successful:


In a Forbes article last year, Brent Weinstein, Head of Digital Media at United Talent Agency, explained the increasing influence of digital video creators in spaces such as YouTube.


“The leverage they have with audiences is something we’ve never seen before. It’s a medium we’ve never seen before, in terms of quality, how it extracts response from its audience, and the power that the individual creator wields,” Weinstein said.


The article notes that on 2012, one hour of YouTube video was uploaded every second. In 2013, 72 hours of online video was uploaded to YouTube every minute. People are making and consuming videos en masse, making YouTube a media powerhouse.


Another article by Richard Tiland, CEO of New Evolution Video, in Forbes in June 2014 reinforced that video is “The Premier Communications Tool Of Today.”


“The use of video is so ubiquitous in our everyday lives, it has become part of our subconscious.  We don’t even realize how much we know and learn from vide,” Tiland wrote.


“Since video appeals to both sight and sound in a quick burst of stimulation, it captures the attention of the viewer immediately and makes a lasting impression.  The messaging is concise and easy to understand, reaching people of all demographics.”


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.




The Adoption Process – Part 2

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. The S.C. Heart Gallery is dedicated to finding forever homes for children in foster care, and serving families who are interested in adoption from foster care.


Yet, the adoption process can be overwhelmingly daunting for any family—especially those navigating it for the first time. Background checks. Home studies. Paperwork. There is a lot to consider, and information can be hard to find. That is why our dedicated partners at the S.C. Heart Gallery have worked with adoption offices around the state to present the following steps of the adoption process.


Last week we posted part 1 of this series; you can find it here, where we covered:


  1. Inquiry/Intake:  An interested family or individual inquires about adoption in general or a specific child.
  2. Application:  The family or individual completes an application, and the regional DSS Adoption Division assigns a Family Worker.
  3. Training:  The family attends two days of training and one day of adoption-specific training.
  4. Home Study/Pre-placement Investigation:  A Certified Adoption Investigator schedules a minimum of two home visits.


This week, we finish it off with part 2:


  1. Selection: A selection committee—made up of the adoption specialist and supervisor, the foster care worker and supervisor, and potentially other appropriate parties—reviews the merits of each family to determine which approved family best meets the needs of the waiting child. Only the selected family is contacted. The selected family is notified and invited to a presentation of the child’s background information and given time to decide whether they are interested in placement. There may be exceptions to this, based on the legal status of the child.


  1. Placement: The selected family and child meet and begin pre-placement visits. When the child and family are ready, as assessed and agreed upon by the agency, placement occurs. The regional DSS Adoption Division provides supervisory assistance during an adjustment period of several months or more, depending on the legal status and adjustment of the child and family to the placement. Once the child and family are ready, as assessed by and recommended by the agency, finalization occurs, contingent upon the legal status of the child.


  1. Finalization: A hearing is scheduled in the Family Court to legally finalize the adoption. The child will be issued a new birth certificate listing the adoptive parents and the child’s new name.


  1. Adoption Preservation: Adoption is a lifelong process. After finalization, counseling, referral services, and other assistance may be available upon request by the adoptive family.


How are families matched? After approval (step 4), families are actively considered for placements (step 5) based upon their specific interests, including age, gender, number of children and which special needs they can accept in a child or sibling group. There is no way to estimate how long it may take before a family is matched with a child. Families are not contacted each time they are considered. While waiting, the approved family may be invited to recruitment events held by the regional DSS Adoption Division. The family can also search the DSS, SC Heart Gallery, AdoptUSkids or other websites for available children and make inquiries through the website or through their Family Worker. Adoption Specialists or Heart Gallery Recruitment Specialists share general information regarding whether the family can be considered for placement of specified children.