Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida/National News

Dozens of Florida Children Thankful for Family This Thanksgiving

SARASOTA, FL - This week, nine-year-old Ashley will join her new family around the Thanksgiving table. She and more than 20 other kids were officially adopted Friday at the Manatee County Courthouse. November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

According to Ashley's adoptive father, Bill Schack, he and his wife had tried to have a child of their own for several years, and when they saw Ashley and her sister's picture on the Sarasota Heart Gallery website, they just had a "feeling."

"We were drawn to them, they were smiling, and it was just one of those things where we just had a feeling that we would try to get them."

The Schacks were not able, to be sure, to adopt Ashley's older sister, and adoption advocates are reminding Floridians there are approximately 750 children in the Florida foster care system looking for permanent placement. Older children, sibling groups and special-needs children represent the biggest need.

Lisa Moschin, the adoption supervisor for Manatee Glens in Sarasota, said that the challenges children in the foster care system often face make finding them a "forever family" all the more important.

"They need a family," Moschin said. "They need somewhere to go for holidays. They want someone there when they get married. They need somebody to talk to and give them guidance."

According to research by Princeton University, between 30 percent and 80 percent of children in foster care exhibit emotional or behavioral problems, Moschin explained.

"The impact of growing up in the foster care system is huge," she said. "Many of the children, if they age out in foster care, a huge number of children end out in the prison system or homeless."

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