Melinda Nicholson will be honored as
an "Angel in Adoption" in
That's when their biological son Morgan was 3 years old. He said he wanted a sibling.
After a lot of thought, the Nicholsons began looking into adoption and foster care services.
"He is really the reason we started this journey," she says. "We saw a need in so many different areas when we started this, there weren't a lot of resources and support and it did make our journey tougher."
Melinda and Marv grew their family and Morgan grew to have lots of brothers and sisters. His sister Maggie was adopted shortly after and over the years the Nicholsons have fostered more than 50 children. Two-year-old Ava is currently under her guardianship.
"Its one of the hardest fields that you could ever be in because it's real. It's raw. It's challenging, but it's also the most gratifying experience. In our home, Stephanie has heard me say this, we're not a foster parent."
Melinda not only fostered and cared for dozens of children, she's made it her life's mission to help other children. She serves on the Missouri State Foster Care and Adoption Board in the state's capital.
She trains, guides and supports those who hope to adopt a child or become foster parents. She is a true advocate for those who may be lost.
"I can't have as many children as I want to so I will help as many children as I can and I think that's true for so many people."
Stephanie Shive is now 23. She was only 13 when Melinda and Marv became her foster parents -- or as she calls them, "mom and dad."
"They came and met me and we clicked like that," she says. "I mean, everything I wanted in a family they had."
Since Stephanie graduated high school with honors, she went to college and credits the Nicholsons for setting her path, for always being there when others weren't.
"She's one of the most amazing people you'll ever meet. All my friends who I take home and they meet mom and dad they'll say mom and dad are one of the most amazing giving people you'll ever meet in your life."
"Our heart is to convey to the kids that while on many levels the system or circumstances have failed you that there's hope," says Melinda.