Photo of entrance to Metro Zoo.

Finding Families for Children in Foster Care Makes Fun Day at Zoo Miami Serious Business

The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery Teams Up with Zoo Miami & Ron Magill on January 18 to Help Kids Find Forever Homes

MIAMI, FL – A day at Zoo Miami usually means some serious fun, but for The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery team charged with creating digital photo and video libraries that encourage the adoption of harder-to-place children, it’s serious business. Video crews, professional photographers, hair and makeup artists and dozens of other volunteers will converge at the zoo today with a single goal in mind: to help 21 children find their forever families. 

“The ideal goal for kids in foster care is a sustainably happy and healthy family reunification,” says James Haj, president and CEO of The Children’s Trust. “But when families simply cannot be kept together and parental rights are terminated, we step up to help those children find stable and loving homes.”

There are currently more than 100 children in Miami-Dade’s foster care system who are ready to be adopted, dozens of whom are featured in The Children’s Trust web-based Heart Gallery; their heartwarming stories, images and videos can be viewed at www.miamiheartgallery.org

“These are amazing kids who have been dealt unbelievable challenges” says Haj. “The Miami Heart Gallery initiative increases their chances of being adopted, while giving them a special day where they get to be the center of attention and take part in a fantastic experience.”

The children at today’s photo shoot will have the opportunity to explore what is the only subtropical zoo in the continental U.S.; perhaps feed a giraffe or tortoise; and meet Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill, who will be taking some of the day’s portraits. 

“It is a privilege and a pleasure for Zoo Miami to provide these wonderful children with the opportunity to connect with wildlife while hopefully being able to show people how deserving they are of a forever family,” says Zoo Miami Communications Director and Goodwill Ambassador Ron Magill. “Contributing to the future of a child is the greatest investment anyone can make.” 

Approximately half of the children featured in The Children's Trust Miami Heart Gallery since its debut in 2009 have either been adopted or are in the process of being adopted. Aside from the lifelong joy and enrichment that adoption brings, families who adopt enjoy a multitude of supportive benefits, including college tuition waivers to any state university through Florida’s Department of Children and Families. Miami Heart Gallery is a partnership between The Children's Trust and Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, the local lead agency for child welfare in Miami and the Keys. Anyone interested in learning more about adopting a foster child should call Our Kids at 305.455.6241 or email Flora Beal at bealf@ourkids.us.

Photo shoots will begin at Zoo Miami at 9 a.m. and run through 1:30 p.m., with a break from noon – 12:45 p.m. The zoo is located at 12400 SW 152nd Street, Miami, FL 33177. To coordinate passenger car and satellite van parking, please contact Lisa Mozloom at 305.528.5341 or lisa.mozloom@themnetwork.com. Media invited as early as 9 a.m.

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About The Children’s Trust
The Children's Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County. For more information, please visit www.thechildrenstrust.org

About Our Kids
Our Kids creates safe havens for children and families through foster care and adoptions. For more information, please visit www.ourkids.us. 

About Zoo Miami
As one of the world’s greatest zoos, Zoo Miami is home to more than 3,000 animals from all over the world. Among many sights, visitors can enjoy the NEW Florida: Mission Everglades expansion with alligators, bobcats, bald eagles, a Florida panther and more impressive Florida natives. Guests can slide along otters, come face to face with bears, crawl through a tunnel in the crocodile exhibit, float along the Lostman’s River “airboat” ride, play in the Cypress Landing Playground and more! For more information, please visit www.zoomiami.org or call 305.251.0400.