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Lexington family finalizes adoption of teen

Lexington, SC – You’re never too old for family, and one local couple recently proved that for a 16-year-old girl.

“We had room in our hearts and our home to bring in a teenager,” said Melanie Westhart. “A lot of them have the potential to be successful. They need it as much as younger kids.”

She and her husband, Chad, had met Dakota a few years ago. Then she moved, and the Westharts lost touch. They reconnected by chance when Chad Westhart was helping with an event at a local group home, and they applied to adopt her.

The feeling is mutual. When Dakota was asked if she wanted the Westharts to adopt her, her answer was one word.

“Absolutely,” she said.

Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, was the SC Adoption Day, and more than 60 children were adopted into about 40 families.

“Every child needs the love and protection of a forever family,” said DSS Acting State Director Joan Meacham. “Our waiting children deserve happy endings.”

In fiscal year 2017-2018, 478 children were adopted out of the foster care system. The average age of children waiting to be adopted is 11, and more than 600 children in South Carolina are available for adoption from the state’s foster care system.

For more information, visit https://dss.sc.gov/adoption/ or www.scheartgallery.org.

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