JFS Connecting Hearts

Forever Families for Children in Foster Care

Our mission is to find foster, adoptive, and kinship families for every child in central Virginia’s foster system through collaboration with agencies, families, and youth.

JFS Connecting Hearts guides families through the adoption process so children in foster care can find
permanent, loving families.

We work to recruit and retain foster, adoptive, and kinship families so children in foster care can find permanent, loving families. We do this by sharing the stories and portraits of foster children, collaborating with other agencies, and educating prospective foster-to-adopt parents. Thank you for taking the first step towards finding a permanent, loving family for every child in central Virginia!

More than 1,100 children in central Virginia are in foster care, many waiting to be adopted. Each and every child deserves a permanent, loving home!


Why Foster-to-Adopt?

Page B. shares why she chose to foster-to-adopt:

“My husband and I got married late; it was a second marriage for both of us. We both really wanted another kid and started exploring adoption. Since we were older, we didn’t feel like it was the right thing for us to adopt an infant, so we adopted our daughter from foster care.

“Our daughter is an amazing kid. I didn’t give birth to her, but when she’s sad, I’m sad, and when she’s joyous, I’m joyous. Sometimes it’s challenging, but so is parenting any child. It’s tough, but it’s rewarding. There’s no difference in my relationship with her than if she were my biological child.”

Our Mission

JFS Connecting Hearts’ mission is to find foster, adoptive, and kinship families for every child in central Virginia’s foster system through collaboration with agencies, families, and youth.

Connecting Hearts' Founder

In August 2014, Debbie Johnston was appointed Virginia’s Adoption Champion by Governor Terry McAuliffe. An adoptee herself, Debbie is passionate about helping children find permanent, loving homes, and founded Connecting Hearts to fulfill that mission. She credits her success to her loving Virginia family who adopted her, believed in her, and gave her that basic human right: a family.


I’m passionate about this because I was adopted.

I want all kids to get their own loving family for life.

Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month   •   CONNECT   •   FAQ   •   Our Partners


Contact: Denise Wise-David

If you are interested in becoming a foster or foster-to-adopt parent, would like to get involved in our organization, or want to share your foster care or adoption story, please do not hesitate to contact us!

[email protected] / 804-282-5644 ext. 280 / Facebook / Instagram

You can also fill out a contact form by clicking here.

The Heart Gallery uses the power of photography and storytelling to raise awareness about the children in foster care awaiting adoption.

Want to Help?

If you own a local business and have a free table, wall space, or TV display, you can host the Heart Gallery! Even a counter where we can leave brochures can help us find families for every child in Virginia’s foster care system!

You can also host a link to our digital Heart Gallery on your business’s website! Fill out the contact form below to learn more and get involved.

Meet Children Waiting for Adoption

JFS Connecting Hearts hosts the Central Region Heart Gallery of Waiting Kids through the FAM-20-093 Grant Partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services.

Meet Grayson

Grayson is a sweet child with a big personality. He is supportive, caring, and compassionate. He enjoys playing video games, dancing, and being outside. Grayson also loves playing sports, especially baseball, football, and basketball. He also loves reading comic books, and his favorite superhero is Spiderman. Grayson has expressed that he would like to be a part of a family that likes to have fun and does not treat him differently than other children.

Meet Chloe

Chloe is a 14-year-old girl who enjoys the movies, shopping, art, singing, and nature. Chloe loves to make up and getting her hair and nails done. Chloe desires attention and does not like feeling left out.  Chloe wants to be a part of a family and is aware of her needs. Chloe is willing and open to working with service providers to better herself. Her strengths include resilience, personal insight, perseverance, and transparency. Chloe desires to be loved and accepted for who she is and is willing to invest in herself and her future. She also desires to make other people feel loved and enjoys making art and writing letters to others. Chloe wants to work in the medical field and help others who are hurting when she gets older. Chloe is intelligent and able to do well in school with the right supports in place. While Chloe has experienced many challenges in her life, she always overcomes her obstacles and can see the good out of difficult situations.

Meet Elizabeth

Elizabeth is 17 years old and loves animals, fishing, and shopping! When Elizabeth is not enjoying outside activities, she enjoys reading novels and dabbling in make-up. Elizabeth gets along well with younger children and enjoys preparing meals and engaging in family-oriented events.

Elizabeth loves music as it allows her to relax. Elizabeth has an older brother and communicates with him and her maternal grandmother often, as she is very close with her family.

Meet Sam

Sam is a smart and articulate 16-year-old with a bright smile. She enjoys being active and discovering new things by playing outside, riding her bike, swimming, and doing gymnastics. When home, she enjoys puzzles, reading, and watching movies. After experiencing many moves, Sam is ready to settle down with a supportive and committed family.

Click here to watch Sam's video!

Meet Nathan

Nathan is a wonderful, tenderhearted teen born in 2005. Nathan is looking forward to having a forever family who supports his dreams of attending Virginia Tech or George Mason for game design. Nathan likes to play football in a recreation league, and watching football is also at the top of Nathan's list of favorite things to do. Nathan also volunteers on the weekends with the SPCA; this loving young man has such a huge heart for animals. Nathan has discussed in detail that he wants to attend a four-year college and focus on designing and creating video games. After he opens up, Nathan's gentle nature shines through. Nathan is the kind of youth that will leave you, saying, "He has enriched my life and given me so much more than what I am able to give to him." Do not miss bringing this amazing young man into your forever home.

Meet Jacob and Mark

Jacob (on the left) is a special little person with a huge heart! Jacob loves to show his affection to others by giving hugs and kisses. Jacob enjoys playing with his Legos, things that move and make noise, and the outdoors. Jacob requires full-time love and assistance with his daily living skills; however, he can perform some tasks independently. Jacob has limited expressive and comprehensive skills. Therefore, he requires a family with a lot of patience and a family that will work with him to thrive. Jacob reaches his full potential with normalcy, consistency, and a structured routine. Jacob attends public school full time and has special supports in place to help him while in school. Jacob can get along with other children, but he prefers to play alone. Jacob has a special bond with his younger brother, Mark. Jacob requires a home environment with love, patience, and nurturing.

Mark (on the right) is an active, energetic, and loving little guy. He enjoys riding his bike, listening to rap music, and playing with balls. Mark is independent and can complete his daily living tasks on his own. For example, Mark can clean his room, make his bed, and fold his clothes. However, at times, he requires redirection and guidance in his daily activities. Mark is smart, expressive, and athletic, enjoys playing football and being outdoors and does well in school. Mark loves his older brother Jacob and desires to be in a home with Jacob. Could you be the loving family for these sweet young fellows?

Meet Dylan

Dylan is excited about the idea of adoption and about searching for his forever family. Dylan will do well in a home with two parents or with a single dad. His ideal home would consist of a loving family where games of all types are played regularly.

Dylan dreams of having a kind and loving family, having a job that is not too complicated, and wishes he could be the smartest person in the universe. He will tell you his spirit animal is a tiger because they are brave, fierce, intelligent, and protective. Dylan's favorite subjects in school are math and science, but he says he enjoys them all. Some of his other favorite things include slushies, frosties, ice cream, and Mexican food. Dylan's favorite movie is Detective Pikachu, and he loves video games (especially Minecraft and Roblox).

Piano playing and fiddling with instruments have been enjoyable for quite some time, and he also enjoys singing. He is tech-savvy and enjoys anything with a screen! He wants his future family to know that he may become a YouTube celebrity and wants to be a computer specialist or an astronaut when he grows up! Seeing volcanoes in person would be something on his bucket list if he were to create one, and if he could have a superpower, it would be to control the weather. Dylan enjoys being inside playing games or reading, but he also likes spending time outside.

Dylan has a beautifully unique personality and enjoys being around people. He loves to laugh, thrives with praise, and does well with one on one time with people who care about him. At times, Dylan needs extra support and guidance when in social situations; over time, a family can model this and encourage him. He is protective over the ones he loves, and now we need to find him a family to be protective over him.

Meet Ny'Quon

Ny'Quon describes himself as artistic, smart, nice, and confident. Ny'Quon does well in school, and enjoys his teachers and classmates. His favorite moment at school was the Teacher vs. Students basketball game. He loves sports, especially football and basketball. He wants to play professionally when he grows up. Ny'Quon also enjoys drawing, and has a special sketchbook dedicated to his art. Ny'Quon enjoys spending time with his friends. He is a very social child, and is open to meeting new people. Ny'Quon is working on learning chores like washing clothes and learning skill for that will help him as he grows up. Ny'Quon takes pride in dressing up and looking nice. Ny'Quon would love to travel with his family especially to watch football and basketball games or go to the beach one day. Ny'Quon is very passionate and excited about his future. Could you be the forever family to help him achieve his dreams?

Click here to watch Ny'Quon's video!

Meet Aiden

Aiden is cheerful, bright, enthusiastic, and engaging. He enjoys Star Wars, Spiderman, riding his bike, swimming, playing sports, watching cartoons, playing video games and board games, and playing outside. Aiden also likes building things, especially with his Legos. Aiden makes friends easi ly and is described as likable, social, and resilient. He has participated in a running club, church activities, and Upward basketball. He likes to attend church regularly and Christmas is his favorite holiday. Aiden would be thrilled to join a forever family who will provide him with unconditional love and support his continuing bond with his brother, sister, and cousin.

Click here to watch Aiden's video!

On Their Way

These children have been placed in adoptive foster homes and are on their way to forever families!

Meet Michael

Michael is a 10-year-old boy that loves life. He wakes up happy and ready for every new day! Animals, Legos, and superheroes are some of his favorite things. You may find him also spending his free time climbing trees, being a secret spy, counting Pokémon cards, or target shooting with his favorite Nerf gear. He has a great imagination and loves to make people laugh. Toby Mac or country is his favorite music.

Click here to watch Michael's video!

Meet Arion

Arion is a calm child with a pleasant disposition. He enjoys playing video games and interacting with peers his age. Arion enjoys visits with his siblings and does well with engaging in age appropriate conversations. Arion enjoys different activities at school that allows him to learn new and exciting skills while using the laptop or iPad. He is also able to get along with his peers in the school setting. In the foster home, Arion is very helpful as he assists the resource mother with chores on a daily basis. He also takes initiative when it is time to get things done, especially if it involves cooking a meal. He has a healthy appetite and continues to enjoy the taste of new foods!

Click here to watch Arion's video!

Meet Silina

Silina is polite and social as she tries to get to know people. Silina can be reserved and quiet at times. She takes her time to open up to people and wants to build trust. Once she trusts someone, she is funny, talkative, and bright. She loves music and socializing with her friends. Silina is respectful and polite. She rather texts than talk and is into social media. She likes to watch YouTube videos about hair, nails, and makeup. She enjoys going to the movies. She prefers to communicate with women over men. Silina enjoys going out to eat or cooking at home. She is good at making soul food. She has taken up a few new hobbies: knitting a blanket, growing plants, and completing puzzles. Silina loves shoes and getting her nails done.

Meet Hunter

Hunter loves video games, board games, arcades, and can be very competitive. He likes movies, especially in the theater. He is very technologically apt and aspires to be a professional YouTuber. His favorite foods are spaghetti, french fries, and Whoppers. Hunter was born in Louisiana and thinks hot sauce and ketchup are major food groups. He likes pool games and just having fun in the water.

Hunter is mild-mannered and does well in school. His favorite subjects are science and math, and he is a good problem solver. He is clever and has a dry sense of humor. He responds well to clearly defined rules and expectations. He would do well in a family with routines and consistency. Honesty and loyalty are two of his best virtues. He gets along well with adults and has been making friends at school. Hunter wants a forever family that he can trust and depend on to be there for him.

Click here to watch Hunter's video!

Meet Ronnie

Ronnie is a 16-year-old who is very excited to find his forever family. Ronnie can be described as super outgoing, having a great sense of humor, and always willing to try new things. Activities that Ronnie finds interesting are doing anything outdoors: fishing, hiking, taking walks, building things, and doing carpentry work. In addition, Ronnie finds enjoyment during his down time to watch his favorite football team, the Washington Football Team, battle towards victory. Ronnie has an older sister who he would like to continue to maintain an ongoing relationship with. Ronnie's sister is a great role model for him and they both enjoy being competitive when it comes to reaching for their goals. Ronnie describes his ideal family as being honest, willing to gain trust with him (and vice versa), not over-protective, understands that he is a growing teenager, and most importantly doesn't give up on him.

Click here to watch Ronnie's video!

Meet Cordell

Cordell is a sweet, loving, and expressive young man. He is 10 years old, loves playing his Sega Genesis video game, transformer action figures, and loves dinosaurs. Cordell enjoys riding his bike, playing with his friends, and doing arts and crafts. Cordell loves helping others and carrying on fun conversations. Cordell would do exceptionally well in a two-parent household and loves dogs.

Home For Good!

These children have "achieved permanency" - adoption by their forever families!

Meet Ronald

Ronald is a funny, energetic kid who loves being active in the outdoors, especially if there's water involved! He is curious and intelligent and loves to play and learn new games with his friends and with parental figures. He enjoys helping others and he is very good at clearly expressing his emotions. He would excel in a family that is very active, a little silly at times, caring and patient.

Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month   •   CONNECT   •   FAQ   •   Our Partners


Contact: Denise Wise-David

If you are interested in becoming a foster or foster-to-adopt parent, would like to get involved in our organization, or want to share your foster care or adoption story, please do not hesitate to contact us!

[email protected] / 804-282-5644 ext. 280 / Facebook / Instagram

You can also fill out a contact form by clicking here.


Begin Your Foster-to-Adopt Journey

The mission of the JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance is to support families throughout their foster, adoption, or kinship journey with peer support, education, and mentorship. The JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance is open to all foster, adoptive, and kinship families in Virginia. Members receive access to:

  • Electronic newsletters
  • Webinars and podcasts
  • Support groups
  • Mentors
  • Educational and social activities
  • Opportunities to support adoption in Virginia

Once you join the JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance, you will receive a welcome email with information on how you can engage with us! You will find opportunities for educational supports, peer support, mentoring activities, and events for you and your family to engage in alongside other foster, adoptive, and kinship families in Virginia.

Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month   •   CONNECT   •   FAQ   •   Our Partners

Below is a calendar of events, orientations, and trainings for prospective foster, adoptive, and kinship families provided by Local Departments of Social Services and JFS Connecting Hearts. Click on each event to see the full details. You may also click the arrow in the top right corner of the calendar to filter events by region: Greater Richmond, Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck, and Piedmont.

Family Building Events

Family Building Events provide an opportunity for prospective adoptive parents to learn about adoption and children waiting for their forever homes. Our matching process focuses on educating families about the adoption process and the specific needs of children hoping to be adopted, as well as protecting the dignity of children through the process.

We invite you to view the Heart Gallery, which highlights children hoping to be adopted. We will feature a virtual tour of children's videos being added to the profiles soon.

When families express their interest in pursuing adoption, we bring together families, including the child's current fostering families, social workers, and JFS Connecting Hearts staff to share information about the adoption process, the needs of children, and to address the families' questions. We create fun, social environments for families and children to come together and learn more about one another in a relaxed atmosphere!


Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month •  CONNECT •  FAQ •  Our Partners


A Hand to Hold

This fall marked five years of JFS Connecting Hearts' partnership with WTVR CBS 6 on the multi-media Adoption Awareness Month campaign, "A Hand to Hold"! Three times every day in November, CBS 6 featured children in foster care awaiting loving families. The children featured are often the most difficult to match with a great home: teenagers, groups of siblings, and kids with complex medical needs.

Thank you to everyone who tuned in to CBS 6 or shared our posts on Facebook! With your help, we can expand our reach and connect every child in Central Virginia's foster care system to a permanent, loving family!

The goal of the campaign is to find these 30 children forever homes, but also to raise awareness about all the other children in need of permanent, loving homes.

New Webinar Series

In honor of Adoption Awareness Month 2021, we've created a brand new series of webinars for foster, adoptive, and kinship parents! Check them out on our Family Alliance resource page.

"A Hand to Hold" 2021 by the numbers:

  • 94 families contacted us to learn more about specific children or the foster-to-adopt process.
  • 10 families have already begun working with a LDSS or LCPA toward adopting a child.
  • 3,000+ website views
  • 706,500+ Facebook views
  • 883,000+ watched the features on CBS 6

Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month •  CONNECT •  FAQ •  Our Partners


The Campaign for Virginia's Kids in Foster Care

This October we tried a new kick-off event for Adoption Awareness Month: CONNECT, a virtual tasting event featuring locally crafted beer, honey wine, and ginger ale from Richmond’s own Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery - delivered right to guests' doors!

The event was fun, poignant, and will help enable JFS Connecting Hearts to CONNECT 250 new foster, adoptive, and kinship families in Central Virginia to children in foster care in need of permanent, loving homes!

Interested in getting involved next year? Reach out to Morgan at [email protected]!

Thank you to our sponsors for joining our mission!


Garden Grove Brewing Company & Urban Winery

Debbie Johnston
The Sharp Family Foundation

Eric Shoenfeld

Carroll Plumbing & Heating, Inc.
Ms. Sandy Sisisky

Susan Brewer
Tom and Nancy McCandlish

Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month •  CONNECT •  FAQ •   Our Partners


Contact: Denise Wise-David

If you are interested in becoming a foster or foster-to-adopt parent, would like to get involved in our organization, or want to share your foster care or adoption story, please do not hesitate to contact us!

[email protected] / 804-282-5644 ext. 280 / Facebook / Instagram

You can also fill out a contact form by clicking here.


Jump to:   About Us   •   The Heart Gallery   •   JFS Connecting Hearts Family Alliance   •   Calendar   •   Adoption Awareness Month •  CONNECT •  FAQ •  Our Partners



Since 2015, JFS Connecting Hearts has celebrated with the “A Hand to Hold” campaign in partnership with WTVR CBS 6. Every day in November, CBS 6 features a child or sibling group in foster care awaiting adoption in central Virginia on Virginia This Morning, the evening news, and their website and social media outlets.

One Church One Child

We work with Once Church Once Child on photo shoot events to get high quality photos of kids in foster care who are available for Foster-to-Adopt.

Heart Gallery Hosts

Amazing Grace World Fellowship
Ashland Coffee and Tea Cafe
BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
Children's Museum of Richmond
Christian Life Church
Clover Hill Assembly of God
Epiphany Catholic Church
Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
Harvest Church RVA
Heritage Public Library
Journey Christian Church
Launch Jump Park
Manchester YMCA
Mechanicsville Branch Library
Mt. Gilead Church
New Direction Church
Omni Hotel Charlottesville
Painting with a Twist
Providence Presbyterian Church
Randolph Community Center
Synapse Social Richmond
Weinstein JCC
West End BNI
Western Henrico Rotary
Woodlake United Methodist Church
521 Biscuit