Brandon is a 5-year old boy with a smile that lights up the room. He likes running outside, playing board games and listening to stories.
Janae and Jamahl are 10-year old twins; both are full of life and love. Janae likes to ride her bike. Jamahl likes to play basketball.
Alexus is a charming and energetic young lady of 8 who loves country music -- especially Taylor Swift. When she grows up, Alexus says wants to be a fourth grade teacher.
Each of these children is unique, but they all share one thing in common -- they all live in a foster home or a residential home, and they are all waiting for their forever families.
Throughout Missouri, 1,400 foster children are unable to return to their biological parents and are in need of permanency through adoption.
To bring awareness to this need, the state of Missouri hosts the annual Heart Gallery, a traveling exhibit that features numerous photographs of children in foster homes who are waiting for forever homes.
"We are grateful to those families across Missouri who have opened their homes and hearts to children in need, either temporarily through foster care or permanently through adoption. But there are many, many children still waiting for adoption.
"The Heart Gallery is a great opportunity to share their stories -- and their smiles -- with potential adoptive parents," said Department of Social Services spokesperson Seth Bundy.
"This year's gallery would not be possible without the generous donation of time and resources from our sponsors, dozens of professional photographers and The Adoption Exchange. We're grateful to have them as partners in this year's gallery."
Staff from the Missouri Department of Social Services' Children's Division, the Juvenile Office and current Adoptive Parents will be available to assist and answer questions.
The Missouri Heart Gallery began five years ago and has helped more than 180 children find potential adoptive placements.
This year, 173 foster children are featured in the 2011 Missouri Heart Gallery. The Heart Gallery will be featured throughout Missouri, searching for families willing to open their arms for a child in need of a safe and loving home.
The remainder of the tour schedule and electronic gallery may be found online at www.moheartgallery.org.