Longtime Lincoln foster and adoptive parents Leigh and Patrick Esau have been named 2010 recipient Angels in Adoption, chosen by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

In addition, Nicole and Scott Sherer, who opened their Lincoln home to five children with special needs, were similarly honored by Sen. Mike Johanns.

The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's Angels in Adoption Program gives members of Congress the opportunity to recognize people or groups for extraordinary contributions on behalf of children who need homes.

* Leigh Esau was honored for her work in creating the Foster CARE Closet, a nonprofit group providing free like-new or gently used clothing and shoes, car seats, and essential items.

While serving as foster parents, the Esaus noticed many children arrive with only the clothes on their backs. After welcoming several young foster children into their home, they realized they lacked basic items to care for them.

Leigh founded the Foster Care Closet in 2006 and runs the all-volunteer organization. Volunteers also meet with families and offer support and education about the foster care system.

* Nicole and Scott Sherer were honored for their compassion in caring for five special needs children.

They've adopted four of them under age 4. The fifth child went to a permanent home elsewhere after living with the Sherers for a year.

The Sherers rearranged their lives to accommodate children with special medical needs. One adoptive child came to them with at least 13 fractures and an inability to swallow.

Nicole could never be more than 15 minutes away from the child. The family then adopted the child's abused sibling.

They've spent countless hours at hospitals, with doctors and in educational meetings, said Leigh Esau.

"They've invested their entire lives in making sure these children are happy, safe and attain permanency," Esau said in a press release.

Reach Jordan Pascale at 402-473-7120 or at jpascale@journalstar.com

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