SALT LAKE CITY – Thousands of Utah children are in the foster care system. Just within the last year alone, 4,553 children received some type of foster care. There are 2,688 children currently in foster care and 162 of them are waiting to find a permanent home. 47 of those kids were featured in portraits in the State Capitol’s Rotunda as part of the 8th annual Utah Heart Gallery.
“I was born with a disease so I don’t have all my limbs in my body,” says Jordan. He came from Honduras and was placed with an adoptive family, but the 15-year-old has also been with three different families in the past five years. “Sometimes I wish I could just stay in one place; it would be nice,” he says.
Jordan is one of 47 kids featured in the portraits. He just wants a stable, loving home. Mariah was also one of the foster kids featured. She’s been in the system for two years.
“I was abused for quite some time when I was younger,” she tells Fox 13. She met her adoptive parents about a year ago, and is just waiting for the adoption process to be finalized.
“I met them and I immediately knew that they were my parents,” says Mariah.
There’s probably around 3,000 kids in foster care here in Utah, about 150 of those kids are available for adoption,” says Kathy Searle, The Director of Programs at the Adoption Exchange.
Searle says the annual Heart Gallery helps families get to know the kids up for adoption, but also admits finding them permanent homes is the toughest part.
“Most of the kids come in because of abuse and neglect there’s usually domestic violence and drugs involved; the kids that we serve have been in the system and for whatever reason couldn’t go home and are not being adopted by their foster parents.”
Mariah is happy she’s finally found a family.
“I’m so blessed to be 18 and to be able to have a family right now. It’s such a good feeling to be able to loved by someone and to be loved and have a belonging in someone’s heart and know that they’re not going to leave you,” she says.
However for kids like Jordan, who wants to be a criminal attorney when he grows up, he is still waiting for that stability.
“I’m really funny; I’m really mobile. Ii like to do things on my own. I just hope there’s a family out there for me,” says Jordan.
If you’d like to take a look at the portraits that were on display and to learn more about the adoption process, go to www.utdcfsadopt.org