ST. CLOUD, Fla. – Ten years ago, the director of Heart Gallery of Central Florida, met a young girl who was under the state's care.
Misty Miotto is also a photographer for the nonprofit organization, which photographs children who are available for adoption, and she had taken pictures of the then-14-year- old girl.
Miotto said she and her husband always wanted a larger family. They already had two biological children when they met the teen but adopting her wasn't in the cards for them. They maintained a relationship and six years later, they met her three siblings, Anderson, Jimica and Danica.
"I can't even imagine our family without our kids. These kids have always been our kids," Misty Miotto said. The three siblings were in foster care and eventually went into the adoption system. In 2015, the adoption proceedings were finalized and they were finally the Miotto kids.
"It made our lives fuller. It never felt that they were adopted, you know? From the beginning when we met them, it felt they were always our kids," Nelio Miotto said.
The children said they felt the same way when they first met their new parents.
"It was like the most beautiful thing I have ever felt - to meet them and to feel that connection. I thought to myself, 'It's too good to be true,' that they're going to adopt me," Jimica Miotto said.
Her sister Danica said she shares that feeling.
"When I first met them, I felt like we connected and I knew they'd be part of my life," Danica Miotto said.
The family is sharing its story in hopes more families will open up their homes and hearts to kids under the state's care.
"Some people get afraid when it's a sibling group and there's more than one or they have children already in the house and, for us, it has just brought more love, more fun, more laughter, more everything," Misty Miotto said.
There are about 3,000 kids in foster care in central Florida and hundreds are waiting to be adopted.
"When you're adopting from foster care, it is completely free of charge and that's one thing people really don't realize. And so when you do incur those attorney's fee's, those are reimbursed by the state,"
Danielle Levien, of Embrace Families, said. The nonprofit organization works with entities to help kids in foster care.
According to Embrace Families, when a person or family adopts a child in the U.S. from a state agency, the child is entitled to free education at any Florida state college and free medical insurance until they are 18.
"The things that these kids have been through and how resilient they are and all they need is someone to give them some love, unconditional love, and just nurture their own gifts and talents God's given them and they just blossom and flourish and they've just given and contributed so much to us. They're a blessing to us.," Misty Miotto said.