Michael, Roman and Lilliana often lived in separate foster homes as their biological parents struggled with addiction. By the time the siblings were ages 9, 8 and 6, they had spent more than half their lives apart, longing for a permanent place to call home.
“It was really tiring, having to pack up all my stuff and just move to another house and then do that again, over and over,” says Lilliana.
Sadly, their experience is not unique. More than 120,000 children are waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States right now. These youth are in care through no fault of their own because of abuse or neglect. The unfortunate reality is that many are not returning to their birth families because it is not safe.
Thankfully, Michael and Roman were eventually placed in Terri’s home. When she saw how much the boys missed being with their sister, Terri became certified to foster more children so that Michael, Roman and Lilliana could be reunited.
“It felt good to see my brothers,” Lilliana shares, grinning.
Being a foster parent to three children who had experienced significant trauma in their short lives was challenging at times, but Terri was dedicated to giving Michael, Roman and Lilliana the love and support they needed to thrive.
It didn’t take long for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiter, Charlie, to recognize the special bond the siblings had with Terri.
Through our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, the Foundation funds recruiters, like Charlie, who are working around the clock to find forever families for children in foster care who are often overlooked, including teenagers, children with special needs and siblings. Research has shown that youth served by the program are up to 3x more likely to be adopted.
“Our first priority with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is the kid and what they need,” says Charlie. “And that was where I was able to see that being with Terri is what they really wanted.”
With help from Charlie and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s generous community of donors, Michael, Roman and Lilliana were adopted by Terri in June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the adoption was finalized virtually with friends and relatives watching from across the country. The family all wore shirts honoring Terri’s Hawaiian roots and the children’s Native American heritage.
“I wanted them to be able to stay together. I wanted them to feel secure,” Terri shares. “I just decided that it was home, with me.”
Thankfully, Michael, Roman and Lilliana no longer have to worry about moving to another house or when they will see each other again. The siblings finally have what they always dreamed of: the chance to grow up — together.
Every child deserves a safe, loving and permanent family. Donate now to help give children still waiting in foster care the foundation for a brighter future.
This story was featured in the Foundation’s 2021 annual report (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021)