DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Sally Orlosky slowly flipped through an old photo album containing snapshots of a 4-year-old named Daniel.
One photo captured the boy smiling at Orlosky while he played video games, his bare feet resting up in the air near the camera's lens. As Orlosky flipped a page, Daniel was pictured in a white cap and gown during his kindergarten graduation. On another, his cheeks were puffed as he blew out his five birthday candles.
"Look at this child," Orlosky, 73, said as she caressed the photo. "Is he not the most beautiful child you've ever laid eyes on? Who could not love him?"
Orlosky and her husband, Reese, took in Daniel after he was placed into the foster system in 2000. Daniel was one among 84 foster kids and seven special needs adults the Orloskys cared for since 1994.
In 2002, Daniel was taken from the family after a judge ruled in favor of his biological mother.
"The last thing Daniel said to me was, 'When I'm comin' back, momma?'" Orlosky said. "We would go visit him at his daycare after that. It was hands-off. We would just ask him how he was doing and that anytime he wanted to come back, he could live with us.
"We never told the children to call us mom and dad, but most of them did, anyway," she continued.
When it was time for each child to leave the Orloskys’ home, Sally would send them away with a photo album and a calendar containing descriptions of what the child did each day in their home.
Only one child out of the 84 did not go home with an album, Orlosky said as she gripped the album's blue cover.
That child was Daniel.
"We took lots of pictures," Orlosky said. "We decided to keep Daniel's album because we thought it was just going to be thrown away. We just had this feeling."
Orlosky said she saw Daniel occasionally through the years, the last time when he was 12. In 2013 she learned Daniel had been placed in juvenile detention. She tried to visit him there at age 17, she said, but her request was denied by his biological mother.
"I'd take Daniel back today if I could," Orlosky said. "It doesn't matter where he's been or what he's done. I'd take him back today."
After losing track of Daniel's whereabouts, Orlosky and her husband frequently search through arrest records for their foster son. Orlosky said now that Daniel is 21 and an adult, she hopes to hire a private investigator to finally reunite with him and many of her other foster children.
"I would like to know what happened to all of the kids," she said.
Brent Orlosky, Sally Orlosky’s biological son, agreed.
"It'd be nice to know what happened to each of them," Brent said. "I always wanted brothers and sisters, but Mom couldn't have anymore and my brother was already out of the house. Having foster children was great. They were my brothers and sisters for as long as they were with us."
Brent said his mother always stepped up to the plate to help children in need. In his eyes, that was "something special."
"Mom just always put me and the rest of the children first," Brent said. "When we were happy, she was happy.”
For Orlosky, she said the blessings were all on her side.
“The hardest part was always letting them go, some more than others,” she said. “We chose to foster because we love kids. We know it's needed. We know that if you've had a great upbringing, you'll be a great citizen.”