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Child finds forever home through Heart Gallery

The Wangerin family officially adopted Lily, 11, in February 2020.

AUSTIN, Texas — One child, a few portraits, two parents – the ingredients needed to bring one Austin family together.

For years, Lucas and Jonathan Wangerin wanted to start a family but weren't sure which avenue was best for them.

"It was either going to be surrogacy which was really expensive or just finding a kid that needed a home," said Lucas Wangerin. 

Jonathan's niece, Lily, was already a part of their picture before they considered adopting her. Circumstances separated Lily from her mother, also Jonathan's sister, but how she fits into the Wangerin's picture was not so clear at first.  

The couple wanted to be there for her, but they battled with what was the right way to do that. As they weighed their options, they kept circling back to the Heart Gallery

"We had actually been looking at the Heart Gallery a lot throughout our process," Lucas said. 

The Heart Gallery is a nonprofit highlighting children in Central Texas foster care in need of a permanent family.

"Then, when that came back up is when we saw Lily on there," Lucas added. 

PHOTOS: The Wangerin family

They knew their love for her was boundless, but seeing her photograph in the Heart Gallery was the sign they needed to take the plunge and adopt her. 

"I finally upgraded from uncle to dad," Jonathan said about her adoption. 

Lily is a beautiful and energetic 11-year-old with Autism, but that's why Lucas said Lily, alongside many other children in the Heart Gallery, have trouble getting adopted. 

However, for the Wangerin's, that is what made her all the more special to them. They adopted Lily in February 2020. 

Lucas and Jonathan said they were supported throughout their entire adoption experience, specifically in receiving the resources they needed to take care of children with autism. 

They hope their story shows other families the magic of the Heart Gallery, and the importance of giving children, like Lily, a forever home. 

"People tell us we've done so much, and all I tell them is I just feel like I was being the parent that I was supposed to be," Lucas said.

WATCH: Forever Families: The Wangerin Family

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