Rae, Ellie and Addie were all born in different cities, from different parents. But they share much more in common now -- they're the Mullins sisters. Shauna Mullins of San Mateo is their adopted mom.
"Each member joined the family a different, a different way at different times and it started with Rae. I met her when she was an infant and she moved into my home once I was licensed for foster care," said Shauna Mullins, mom.
And then came Ellie, now 8, and Addie, age 7 - all were toddlers when adopted into the family. Each girl originally comes from a world of neglect, but that world has dissolved into a bond that transcends background and race.
"I think we do share this really strong connection that we belong together and we chose to be with each other," said Mullins.
Shauna is sharing her story, hoping to inspire others to foster or adopt. The Mullins family is one of many highlighted in the Bay Area Heart Gallery - it's a traveling photo exhibit about the 10,000 Bay Area children in need of homes and some success stories too.
"You'll notice that some of them have matched little tags that say matched, and that means that we've been able to match a child to a family," said Carlos Smith, Social Worker Supervisor, San Mateo Co. Human Services Agency.
This is the third year the heart gallery is reaching out to the community. It's a collaborative effort by the human services agencies of Alameda, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, as well as a private group called family builders. During the month of October, the photo exhibit is on display at the Serramonte Mall in Daly City. The mall gets an average of 40,000 visitors a day - boosting the potential for a new family connection.
"So there's a huge need and some really great kids out there that just want, they just want a place to call home. They want someone to look to, someone that they can rely on and look up to," said Mullins.
The Bay Area Heart Gallery is hosting a gallery walk at the Serramonte Mall on Wednesday night (10/8) from 6pm-to-8pm.