The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has recently partnered with the Progress Energy Heart Gallery and Eckerd Community Alternatives, as well as the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection and the Florida Department of Children and Families, to help raise awareness for adoption. In Florida, at any given time, there are approximately 1,000 foster children waiting to be adopted. More than 120 of those children are within Pinellas and Pasco Counties.
Governor Crist has made adoption one of his top priorities, and created the Office of Adoption and Child Protection to “establish a comprehensive statewide approach for promoting adoption, supporting adoptive families and preventing child abuse, abandonment and neglect.” As a result, many children have been provided with a crucial basic need ——a loving home. The state, which has been called America’s most adoption-friendly state, has also consistently broken records for the number of adoptions made.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s own Winter the Dolphin, who herself has been adopted by the aquarium and by her new mother Panama, will serve as an ambassador for the adoption message.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium has long been helping animals through their animal adoption program, but they will now be helping people as well. Their animal adoption program has allowed patrons to adopt an animal from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium without having to take it home. Now, 20% of the proceeds from each “Winter adoption” will go to the Progress Energy Heart Gallery as well.
The Progress Energy Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco began in 2006, and provides professionally shot portraits of children up for adoption. Since 2006, more than 40 of the 172 children featured in the Heart Gallery have found homes. Another 35+ children not featured in the Gallery have also been matched with homes because of the Heart Gallery.