ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - A photo gallery is helping children in foster care find loving homes and fulfill their dreams.
It's called the Pinellas-Pasco Heart Gallery and features adoptable children in the region, with beautiful photographs showcasing the personality of each child.
Alexis Lindert is one of the Heart Gallery's success stories, and today she's taking steps to better her life. The 18-year-old from Safety Harbor is a St. Pete College freshman, but said she never thought college would be in her plans.
"I honestly didn't think I was going to be smart enough, one day, to actually make it to college, or even past high school, for that matter," Alexis explained.
At the age of 12, Alexis found herself in foster care and said she had trouble managing the everyday stresses of adolescence in that environment.
"I went through challenges I don't think any child should have to go through at that young age," Alexis said. "[I was] exposed to a lot of negativity and drugs, boys, all that stuff."
But her life began to turn around when she met, and was adopted by Josie and Jon Lindert. They saw her picture on the Pinellas-Pasco Heart Gallery website.
"We really enjoy raising teenagers," Josie told FOX 13 News. "It really is an investment of a few years, that you could change someone's life, and could possibly end up changing your life, too."
Alexis was adopted by the Linderts four years ago, but she is not their first adoptive child. The Linderts have adopted two other children in the past nine years and are in the process of adopting two more.
"They taught me that I was smart enough to go to college, I was smart enough to finish school, I'm good enough for whatever my heart sets me," Alexis said. "You have someone to come to, someone you can always talk to, someone who will always be there for you. They're the best parents that I could have ever asked for."
More than 300 children have been adopted through the Pinellas-Pasco Heart Gallery program. For more information, visit heartgallerykids.org.