Celebrity Photographers (and me) Celebrate Foster Kids

I'm on my way to a special press conference launching the Brooklyn opening of Heart Gallery NYC in honor of National Foster Care Month.  Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President, will proclaim May 18th, 2011 as Heart Gallery NYC Day in Brooklyn.  This extraordinary non-profit, headed by Laurie Sherman Graff, combines the artistic talents of notable photographers with children in need of families and a place to call home.   At Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal, the Long Island Rail Road will host a large scale installation of 50 such photos -- capturing the heart and spirit of these kids -- to inspire potential adoptive families.  There are more than 15,000 foster children living in New York City.  Together with HeartShare Human Services of New York, the NYC Administration for Children Services, and the President of the LIRR, I will join six of the city's foster children to entice families to become adoptive parents.  There will be opportunities for the media to interview the children, the celebrity photographers, the Heart Gallery staff, and listen to some of the guest speakers:  I am honored to be one of them.  Just 3-1/2 years ago we became adoptive parents to an 11 year old girl.  Ushering an older child into, and through, her adolescent years brings lots of challenges, but my husband and I have never been happier, nor more alive, nor more certain that life is deeper and richer for it. In the parlance of Heart Gallery, we have become a "forever family."  If I can inspire even one family today to take action, I will be more than satisfied. After the program, I will whisk the kids off to Junior's for lunch to celebrate the day. We will talk about how to make healthy food choices wherever they go and I will sign copies of two of my cookbooks -- Kids Cook 1-2-3 and Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs  for them.  My lunch companions will range in age from 4 to 15 (unless the Borough President plans to join us!) What fun!  In addition to eating a delicious meal, we will chat about respecting food and ourselves (and how interdependent they are), and enjoy the lost art of having a conversation around the table.  Heart Gallery's unique project, A Home for Kids, will be on display from May 18th through June 15th.  Dedicated to raising awareness of children in foster care, the message to all New Yorkers is that it is possible to change the direction of a child's life and thereby enrich your own.  Take a look at their website to read about the many success stories, to see the beautiful faces of these kids, and to be wowed by the list of celebrated photographers, including Amy Arbus (daughter of the renowned Diane Arbus) who have made so many "forever families" a reality.