More than 400,000 children nationwide are in foster care. 100,000 of those are legally available for adoption.
A local organization introduced the community to some of those children Thursday. This event was promoting National Adoption Awareness month.
The Indiana Heart Gallery is an adoption agency within the Department of Child Services that helps children find a forever home.
Thursday, event goers got to see the faces of children looking for families. There are 200 kids throughout Indiana who are up for adoption.
The coordinator for the Indiana Heart Gallery, Amanda Schortgen, says the children featured at the exhibit are harder to place because of their ages.
“On average our kids are between eight and 15 years old. As you can imagine that makes it a little difficult to find a placement. Everybody wants to adopt a cute baby. So we really want to push the message that you never outgrow the need for a family,” said Schortgen.
Mark Heifner and his wife have adopted eight children out of the foster system. They decided to not have children of their own. Heifner says adopting isn’t easy, but says it’s worth it.
“Kids are kids and they are going to make mistakes. Adults make mistakes. But if there is love and if there is caring, there’s kindness and there is forgiveness at home too, in that consistent love to try to keep moving forward and advancing that kid in their work,” said Heifner.
Mary Ellen Hanback, a St. Joseph County Foster Care specialist, says she sees kids come in every day needing homes.
“You know people don’t realize how many kids there are that don’t have any permanency in their lives. They don’t know that this is going to be their forever family,” said Hanback.
Hanback says adopting or fostering can be scary, but she encourages those interested to take a chance.
“They think they don’t have the time or the space in their lives and it doesn’t take that much to put another bed in your house or another seat at your table, and there is always a little bit more room in their hearts,” said Hanback.
DCS says to become a foster parent or adopt it takes about four months to complete. Many adoptions happen when families first foster.