HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — 13-year old Jamiah Johnson might be petite in size but her voice and smile are larger than life. She is one of 18 children currently in the care of the Connecticut Department of Children and Family Services that will be featured in new videos that aim to increase their chances of finding forever families.
“I was kind of excited. I didn’t know I was going to be nervous but then when I walked in here I was like oh, my god. There’s cameras. I was kind of nervous,” said Jamiah.
The DCF Heart Gallery has been around for quite some time. Currently it features photos and brief descriptions of children that are typically hard to place, like teenagers, sibling groups, and children with disabilities. The Heart Gallery can be found on the DCF website and at the entrance to Jordan’s Furniture on Long Wharf in New Haven.
Jordan’s is partnering with DCF to help create unique videos for each child.
“It’s bringing these children’s faces to life so that viewers can see these stories and really be touched and motivated to come forward and provide a resource,” said Jacqueline Ford, Statewide Foster Care and Adoption Recruitment Specialist Heart Gallery Exhibit Coordinator for DCF.
Ford says the videos are being shot over the course of several days. Tuesday they did a shoot with several children at a Clay Studio in Woodbridge. On Wednesday they were at Jordan’s Furniture with a few other children, including 14-year old twins Jake and Ryan.
Jake and Ryan are autistic. Social worker Cyndie Cunningham says the boys have been in the DCF system for about 8 years.
“They both are just really sweet boys. I mean, everybody that comes into contact with these boys just falls in love with them,” said Cunningham.
Jake is described as very tech savvy while Ryan is a bit more reserved. Cunningham says the twins would thrive in a family environment.
“The family would just have to be really committed to providing both boys with a routine. True to their diagnosis they like to know what to expect,” said Cunningham.
The hope is each child’s video will get passed around on social media. The more people who see them, the more likely a child will be to find their forever family.
“I can bring to a family a lot of happiness because I love to be happy. I love to smile and I love hugs,” said Jamiah.
Jamiah said she is open to any type of family, any culture or religion. She said a single parent, same-sex couple, family with children already, she just wants a family to love and that will love her back.
Learn more about children looking for forever homes by visiting the Connecticut Department of Children and Families Heart Gallery online.