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VIRGINIA BEACH - In honor of Adoption Awareness month, The Up Center and three other non-profit agencies are hosting 'The Adoption Journey,' an exhibition highlighting the need for more loving homes to nurture troubled youth.

Statistics show approximately 5,300 children in Virginia live in some type of foster care setting. Many have spent most of their lives in this 'temporary' situation, often moving several times. About 1,500 youth in Virginia are legally free for adoption.

Interactive stations will help you understand the process of adoption and what it means for at-risk children.

Here's how it works:
Select a profile card of a child in foster care, receive a 'Lifebook' and follow the child through their adoption journey as they visit various interactive stations to learn about the reasons the child entered foster care, the adoption process, adoption resources and ultimately the child's fate.

Each station provides answers to frequently asked questions about the adoption process and opportunities for guests to add 'mementos' to their Lifebook.

At the last station, visitors will learn about the current status of their child some children will have been adopted and some will have aged out of foster care, while others are still available for adoption.

Guests can pay tribute to each of the 1,500 children in Virginia awaiting adoption by placing a sticker (1 sticker represents 1 child/1,500 stickers total) on a large map of Virginia.

An art station will allow youth the opportunity to color or draw what adoption means to them. Virginia Heart Gallery photos of children waiting for adoption will be displayed.

'The Adoption Journey' is sponsored in part by a grant from Virginia Department of Social Services and coordinated by the following local adoption agencies Bethany Christian Services, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, United Methodist Family Services, and The Up Center.

The one-afternoon exhibit is November 18 from noon to 4:00 p.m. at Pembroke Mall, 4554 Virginia Beach Blvd. in Va. Beach

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