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Open your heart and your home

If the faces of the sweet children, some shy, some serious, some grinning for the camera, don't break your heart, then the comments beneath them will:

She was such a sweet kid.

His smile just lit up the room.

I wanted to take him home with me.

Some family would be lucky to adopt her.

The comments were written by several professional photographers around the area about kids waiting to find an adoptive home. It was all part of the Heart Gallery, a gallery featuring a number of children currently in foster or group care awaiting a permanent home.

The gallery is part of an awareness campaign initiated in conjunction with National Adoption Awareness Month. In addition to the Heart Gallery, county offices held a National Adoption Day ceremony to thank adoptive parents and celebrate those who have chosen to welcome other people's children into their homes. Onondaga County's Department of Social Services also launched a Give Your Life a Smile campaign to promote foster care and adoption of hard-to-place kids. When a person or family becomes certified as a foster home through this campaign, they become dually certified as an adoptive home. For more information, visit giveyourlifeasmile.com.

According to Onondaga County Family Court Judge James C. Tormey, there are some 523,000 kids nationwide waiting for a foster or adoptive home. Right here in Onondaga County, 420 kids are in foster care. Thirty-six children are in need of adoptive homes, and 33 of them are between the ages of 10 and 16.

Home is where the heart is

That's the goal of the Heart Gallery: to find homes for older kids and others who are traditionally hard to adopt out. In addition to teens and preteens, this group includes children with developmental disabilities and sibling groups. This group makes up a large percentage of those waiting for adoption. However, many would-be adoptive parents are looking for babies and toddlers.

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