RICHMOND, Va. – The need for families to adopt foster children in Virginia is great, but experts say taking the leap to become an adoptive parent can seem scary at first.
A matching program run by Connecting Hearts, a non-profit aimed at raising awareness about foster care, aims to use fun to break the ice.
At Launch, an indoor trampoline park in Midlothian, the flips and flops come with a bigger goal in mind.
"It's something that can help remind kids that they're kids, and they can have fun and enjoy themselves and that there are people looking to be involved in their lives,” Connecting Hearts Program Director Will Pitzer said.
The event pairs kids in the foster care system meet with potential families who want to adopt them.
"There are kids out in the world, these 5,300 kids, and the world looks dark,” Pitzer said. “They've experienced really hard things, so the world can kind of shrink for them. We need families that can help light up the world essentially."
Pitzer said becoming a foster family is not necessarily committing to be a “hero” or “savior.”
“It's about saying, ‘I'm a family, I'm an adult in the world and I can help light things up for this child, so they can see the good things in life and see what they want.’"
Foster care teen: 'Life is like a sour patch kid'
Caylin, a 16-year-old girl who has been in foster care for almost a year now, when she first attended the event.
"I was preparing myself for people to not like me; be like, ‘Nah, we don' want her,’" Caylin said. "I met a family, and we just like hit it off. It was great. It was amazing."
For Caylin, that connection meant the world and she wants more families and people to see the impact they can have on foster kids.
"Some people go through families, I went through families,” Caylin remembered. “You just have to find the right one and find that connection with people."
Those experiences have shaped the young woman Caylin has become.
"I have a quote,” Caylin said. “It says, 'Life is like a sour patch kid. One minute it's sour, the next minute it's sweet.'"
Click here to learn more about Connecting Hearts, their matching program and for ways that you can help.