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ANGELS IN OUR MIDST: Finding Foster Parents
There are 425 children in foster care, 50 children waiting for adoption; all in the four counties of Northwest Florida.
So many children and so few homes where they can be placed.
So few, in fact, it's a crisis.
They were from various faiths and denominations, different backgrounds and walks of life; called together for a common purpose; to help meet an urgent need for Foster and Adoptive homes.
Terri Marshall, Foster Parent Recruiter; "We always have to make sure that when these babies come into care; and when I say babies, I'm meaning from birth all the way up until 17 years old. It is our responsibility to make sure that they have a home."
Zackary Gibson, Florida Chief Child Advocate; "Unfortunately, if we don't have those homes, those children get moved to other locations throughout the state."
Far across the state to places like Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Miami. They've already been removed from their homes and now being taken away from everything familiar. The need for local homes is especially critical for older children. Randy Kafka is an adoptive parent of five boys.
Randy; "They've been told by other kids in the system, you're 11 years old, nobody wants you. You're not cute. You're not cuddly. You bring baggage with you. And they start believing this."
And they lose hope. Pictures of waiting children lined the meeting hall. Real faces, real stories; like Lakeesha Tucker's.
Lakeesha Tucker, Lived on the streets; "I kind of roamed the streets from about 15 to 17. So, think about that for a second; 15-17, a child, pretty much, with no one but herself and her survival instincts."
At 17, Lakeesha made it off the streets and into a safe Foster home. She's now married, a mother and a businesses owner in Orlando. Now, we need just need more families like the one that took her in; more success stories.
Zackary Gibson, Florida Chief Child Advocate; "Really be a preventative source from having them go any deeper into our system. Our goal is to keep kids out of the system. And, you know, we seek the support of everyone to consider how they can be a part of that solution."
This group heard the appeal and pledged to take the message and the mission to their places of worship and into the community.
Rev, LuTimothy May, Friendship Baptist Church; "In the church, we are called to walk in the shoes of the least, the widow, the stranger, the orphan, the child. And I think the church, what we can do, is grab hold of the Elis of the word and walk in their shoes and try to bring solutions to some of their challenges."
Randy Kafka, Adoptive Parent; "There's others out there and all of them need to be loved by somebody."
Angels in our Midst is brought to you by the Children' Hospital at Sacred Heart.