The Adoption Exchange

Sarah Murphey, with Larry Walker, board chairman of The Adoption Exchange Missouri Office

Sarah Murphey grew up in-and-out of foster care, without a stable home, always facing an uncertain future. But when she was 13, Megan Murphey and Michael Lettau came into her life. “They adopted Sarah a year later, and she is now a confident, young teenager attending a Ladue high school and looking at opportunities for college,” says Lisa Schaffer, Missouri director of development at The Adoption Exchange.

The young teen is a prime example of the demographic served by The Adoption Exchange throughout the state, Schaffer notes. “We help before, during and after the adoption process and answer questions for families looking into adoption. Our staff is knowledgeable about adoption, and help to make the transition easier for families.”

A nonprofit established in Denver in 1983, The Adoption Exchange’s Missouri branch annually provides services for more than 300 kids waiting in the foster care system. The nonprofit typically helps children at about age 12 who have been in the foster care system for more than three years. “These kids are harder to place because they have special needs after being the victims of trauma, abuse or neglect,” Schaffer explains. “We work to find homes that are able to embrace those children and provide them with the family and services they need before they age out of the system at age 18 to 21, and before they face additional trauma with foster care families and transitional living. We want to find them forever families prior to their late teenage years.” And there are always more kids to help, Schaffer notes. About 1,400 kids are waiting in Missouri's foster care system.

In support of the nonprofit’s mission to connect kids waiting in the foster care system and families looking to adopt, the 18th annual A Taste of Italy gala will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 3 at the St. Louis Woman’s Club. Presented by the St. Louis 1904 World’s Fair Charitable Foundation, the event also will benefit the Flora Conservancy of Forest Park. Guests will enjoy an evening of dining and dancing, with signature Italian entrees from some of St. Louis’ favorite restaurants and bakeries, and entertainment from local jazz and contemporary crooner Mike Farmer. A live and silent auction also will be held.

“Every time a child is placed with a family, there’s always another child waiting in the foster care system,” Schaffer says. “This benefit will help us ensure we are able to provide the services to make those connections with children in Missouri and their forever families.”

ON THE COVER: The 18th annual A Taste of Italy gala, from 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 3 at the St. Louis Woman’s Club, will benefit The Adoption Exchange and Flora Conservancy of Forest Park. For more information, call 291-3313 or visit

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