Celebrate Magazine's 2008 Most Fascinating People

Celebrate Magazine "2008 Most Fascinating People"

Dia Sawyer, Area VIII Adoption Coalition Heart Gallery Director, lights up like a Christmas tree when she talks about the Heart Gallery Project and its successes and its challenges.

As a mother of five children in a blended biological and adoptive family structure, she truly understands the importance of helping these children without families find homes.

Her mission is to serve as an advocate for the 400 or so children in foster care in Northeast Arkansas who are waiting to be adopted; these children range from toddlers to teens and include sibling groups and special needs children.

Her goal is to be an advocate for each child so that each child finds a family and a future with opportunities for love and growth. The Heart Gallery is a project of the Adoption Coalition and at present is featured on six billboards locally and on the website: http://www.adoptarkids.org/.

In discussing her advocacy for these children, Dia emphasized that she is now focusing on how to make the adoption process smoother and more family-friendly than it has been in the past.
More than 100 families are presently eager and have completed the adoption pre-process to adopt the children who are waiting for them to become their ‘forever families,’ but the process is time consuming and cumbersome.

Dia’s goal is to help these children get placed in appropriate adoptive families as quickly as possible and with less stress than there has been in the past.

When asked what legacy she wished to leave behind her, she shared: “I want to leave children in this world who will carry out God’s will for their lives as well as be an advocate for the lives of others. If I can teach and empower them to follow His calling, I know they will always be happy and successful.” Dia takes those hopes and goals to heart in her every day life and her everyday actions, both in bringing up her five children and in serving as an advocate for the other 400 in limbo.

Her enthusiasm for this project shines through and enkindles a similar enthusiasm in everyone with whom she speaks about her project. She shared, too, how people often question how people can love someone as their child who is not biologically theirs or who is physically different from their biological children. Dia’s answer is, “The whole question becomes meaningless the first time you hold the child in your arms and it looks up with love at you.”

She laughed and added, “I may be a bit partial as a Jonesboro native, but Jonesboro is a fantastic place to raise a transracial family.” After talking with Dia, it is easy to understand that the bottom line for a strong, good family is love, not genetics.

See the issue here....Celebrate July 2008 here's our family's page.....Team Sawyer

written by Martie Shull, © Celebrate Northeast Arkansas Magazine


Robin said...

very nice article and picture. I would like to mention that the number 400 that was quoted has been the same number for many years. I wonder if DHS even knows how many children they have free for adoption.

Amy Barrett said...

woo hoo! I'm so lucky to have a famous friend! I love this picture of you!

Dia said...

When asked why the number has remained the same for so many years a state DCFS employee stated that, "It's because DCFS is doing such a good job at getting kids adopted. When kids go out, new kids are entering fostercare and thus the number is remaining relatively the same."

I feel the number should be much higher in actuality. I think there is a bottlenecking effect going on in the huge influx of children entering fostercare. I don't believe there's any way the number could be staying relatively the same.

I think the statistics can be skewed to remain the same. For example: Were children who are legally free for adoption but have Independant Living Plans get counted? Did children who are in foster homes that plan to adopt them but haven't get counted?

There are so many variables that one would be foolish to believe any statistics that came from a company hired by DCFS to compile the data.


Pam said...

How wonderful this is!! Great article!


Robin said...

I would like them to ask Jeff and Jeffrey, Kamron and Kaylon, Shakieem, Roneisha, and Shalisa if they think DHS is doing a good job. These particular children have been on the internet for YEARS. Where are their families? Where is the recruiting for these kids? Just because they don't want to put black kids up in the Baxter County area, is one reason these kids sit in foster homes getting older and older. Will these foster families be around when they age out of the system? Who will welcome these kids home for the holidays when they are adults? Who is going to walk these girls down the aisle?
DHS is not doing a good job placing kids. They are breaking the law by not placing black kids in white homes in our area. I guess that isn't in their policy manual. Robin