Finding Families for Children in Foster Care Makes Fun Day at Zoo Miami Serious Business - South Dade News Leader: Community News | South Dade News Leader | Miami Dade County

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Finding Families for Children in Foster Care Makes Fun Day at Zoo Miami Serious Business

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Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 10:40 am

A day at Zoo Miami usually means some serious fun, but for The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery team charged with creating digital photo and video libraries that encourage the adoption of harder-to-place children, it’s

serious business. Video crews, professional photographers, hair and makeup artists and dozens of other volunteers converged at the zoo last month with a single goal in mind: to help 21 children find their forever families.

“The ideal goal for kids in foster care is a sustainably happy and healthy family reunification,” says James Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust. “But when families simply cannot be kept together and parental rights are terminated, we step up to help those children find stable and loving homes.”

There are currently more than 100 children in Miami-Dade’s foster care system who are ready to be adopted, dozens of whom are featured in The Children’s Trust web-based Heart Gallery; their heartwarming stories, images and videos can be viewed at www.miamiheartgallery.org.

“These are amazing kids who have been dealt unbelievable challenges” says Haj. “The Miami Heart Gallery initiative increases their chances of being adopted, while giving them a special day where they get to be the center of attention and take part in a fantastic experience.”

The children at the photo shoot had an opportunity to explore what is the only

subtropical zoo in the continental U.S., feed a giraffe and meet Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill, who took some of the day’s portraits.

“It is a privilege and a pleasure for Zoo Miami to provide these wonderful children with the opportunity to connect with wildlife while hopefully being able to show people how deserving they are of a forever family,” says Zoo Miami Communications Director and Goodwill Ambassador Ron Magill. “Contributing to the future of a child is the greatest investment anyone can make.”

Approximately half of the children featured in The Children's Trust Miami Heart Gallery since its debut in 2009 have either been adopted or are in the process of being adopted. Aside from the lifelong joy and enrichment that adoption brings, families who adopt enjoy a multitude of supportive benefits, including college tuition waivers to any state university through Florida’s Department of Children and Families. Miami Heart Gallery is a partnership between The Children's Trust and Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, the local lead agency for child welfare in Miami and the Keys. Anyone interested in learning more about adopting a foster child should call Our Kids at 305.455.6241 or email Flora Beal at bealf@ourkids.us.

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