Amanda and Jacob Self were married in 2010 and wanted to start a family right away. After several miscarriages, Amanda brought up the idea of foster parenting. Jacob was skeptical at first, he wasn't sure he'd be able to give up a child he'd been caring for. Amanda didn't see it that way.
"It was about the child needing someone to care for them, and me being able to help," she said in a statement provided to The Huffington Post by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which she used as an education resource throughout the process.
The couple completed foster care training classes and passed a home study. Then, In October 2011, Amanda got a call that 2-year-old Gina needed a home.
She recalls meeting Gina, who was wearing an outfit with cherries on it, for the first time. "I knew right then and there that she was mine," Amanda said in the statement. The Louisiana family took Gina home and began the adoption process.
Months later, on January 28, 2014, Gina's adoption became official, and Amanda sent a heartwarming photo to the Dave Thomas Foundation.
The photo was posted on the foundation's Facebook page, and then was "liked" more than 900,000 times and "shared" more than 30,000. Gina has become a literal poster child for foster care adoptions. A representative for the foundation said that Gina's photo has sparked interest in adoptions with more than 11,000 comments and questions on the photo. "Many of the comments are people looking for more information on adopting from foster care. It has created so much interest in adoption that DTFA’s website crashed," she said in a press release.
The release also notes how the picture serves as a reminder that thousands of kids in foster care are waiting to be adopted.
Amanda became pregnant soon after bringing Gina home, and delivered baby Josie seven months later. But the family plans to open their home to more foster kids. "We hope to start building a bigger house next year to house a few more," Amanda said.
BEFORE YOU GO
From "30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days," a series designed to give a voice to people with widely varying experiences, including birthparents, adoptees, adoptive parents, foster parents, waiting adoptive parents and others touched by adoption: