More than a decade ago, as children continued to leave foster care without a permanent family and at alarming rates, we realized that the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption needed to do much more to fulfill our mission of “dramatically increasing the number of adoptions of children waiting in North America’s foster care systems.”
For the Foundation’s board of trustees and staff, the goal has always been clear ― that every child waiting in foster care will quickly be surrounded by the comfort and safety that only a permanent, loving family can provide. But we simply needed to move from awareness to action, to shift from reacting to the suffering that children in care face to proactively finding them homes, from accepting child welfare business as usual to demanding change for our children.
So, we created the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program as a platform to engage more partners, to transform failing child welfare practices and most importantly, to aggressively find families for children waiting much too long to be adopted.
Admittedly, there have been moments that the work to move tens of thousands of vulnerable children into secure families has seemed too daunting, or too fraught with roadblocks or even unachievable. At those times, though, it was the dedication of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption professionals, the commitment of our national, state, provincial and agency partners and the generosity of the Foundation’s donors that allowed us to believe that we could reach measurable, big, audacious milestones of success for our children.
We thoughtfully developed strategic programs, devised aggressive awareness campaigns and set the zealous goal for moving 10,000 children out of foster care and into permanent, loving homes across the United States and Canada. And we whispered to each other that if we could reach that 10,000 adoptions milestone, then we would be on the way to securing homes for all the children in need. Because it is what they require, it is what they deserve and it is what Dave Thomas asked of us.
With your help and continued commitment to our mission, today we’re proud to announce that we have reached that milestone ― 10,000 children are now with a safe, loving and permanent family through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program!!
Ten thousand children now have mom or dad to tuck them in at night and greet them in the morning, to comfort them and to share the joys of everyday life, and to be there every step of the way as they grow into adults with families of their own.
Dave Thomas, who created this foundation that bears his name, frequently reminded us that if only one child is adopted as the result of this work, it will have been worth it. He was right. The beauty of 10,000 adoptions is more than a large number, more than a significant goal attained. It’s an achievement that represents a seismic shift in changing a child welfare system that too often disregards the rights and needs of children; that allows thousands to age out of foster care into homelessness or despair; that perpetuates the myth that some children are too old to be adopted, or too difficult to care for.
We have challenged those myths by providing an evidence-based program that has found homes for thousands of teenagers, sibling groups, children with special needs and youth who had given up on themselves and resisted the notion of family and home.
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids works. Not just for the very children for whom it was designed, but also for the systems that surround them ― making the process better, the roadblocks fewer and the successes greater. The momentum of its growth is exciting. What took us more than a decade, now is accelerated, so that 20,000 or 30,000 adoptions is clearly in view.
Together, we changed 10,000 lives in the most profound, lasting way. And yet, we wake each morning with the knowledge that more than 120,000 children in the United States and more than 30,000 children in Canada are still waiting for families. We have so much more to do.
Today, let’s take a moment to truly reflect and celebrate this incredible milestone made possible because of each and every one of YOU.
With deep gratitude and all good wishes,
Rita L. Soronen
President & CEO