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35 children in the Heart Gallery of Central Texas have found permanent homes in the past year

The program exposes the public to children in the foster care system looking for their forever homes who may otherwise go unnoticed in the system.

AUSTIN, Texas — The photographs in the Heart Gallery of Central Texas are more than just pictures. Each is a moment of hope for a child looking for a family who will love them forever. 

The gallery does not represent all the children up for adoption either. In July alone, 270 children in the Austin area and 753 children around the San Antonio region were waiting to get adopted, according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). 

While children wait to be adopted, they could end up leaving the communities they know and feel comfortable in because there are not enough foster and adoptive families to take care of them.

"Especially for fostering and kids who need a placement that is not adoptive, they are having to move outside of the region or their community where they're based from to where there is a place for them to stay," said Michele Freeman with the Heart Gallery of Central Texas.

About 20% of children in foster care in Travis County and 14% in Bexar County are placed outside of the region where they live because there is not an appropriate placement for them closer to home, DFPS said.

Until more adoptive and foster parents sign up, this will not change. 

However, if adopting and fostering is not the right move for a family, sharing these children's stories is a great alternative. That's the goal of KVUE's Forever Families.

Since August 2020, 35 children in the Heart Gallery of Central Texas have found their way to permanent families. Five of those kids were featured on KVUE.

For privacy reasons during the adoption process, the names of the children who were adopted cannot be shared.

"Every week after the segment airs, our website traffic increases significantly, so we can see that. Sharing the information is definitely making a difference and creating a lot of awareness," Freeman said.

To learn more about the children in the Heart Gallery of Central Texas or to learn how you can help children in Texas foster care, head to KVUE.com/ForeverFamilies.

MORE FOREVER FAMILIES CHILDREN:

Forever Families: Meet 16-year-old Axis

This Austin-area cowboy hopes he hits a strike with his future family

Teen looking for forever family opens up about life in rap song with Grammy-nominated artist

12-year-old Austin-area baker hopes to find sweet family to adopt her