Thirty seven years ago my family adopted my brother, Peter, from Korea and then several years later adopted my brother, Toby, through the foster care system. I can’t imagine life without my brothers and through this blessing of adoption I have two wonderful nieces and two more on the way. I have always wanted a profession where I could work with children.
I feel fortunate to have this position as a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter which enables me to help children find their forever families and assist families in the process of adopting such awesome kids! While I find the work very fulfilling, it has its challenges. Sometimes, I have to convince the kids I work with (especially the teens) that they deserve a family who can love them and keep them safe; who will be committed to them through all the ups and downs. Many of the teens who are close to turning 18 feel that no one will want to adopt them and what’s the point, they will be an adult soon. Heart. Breaking.
I talk to them about adoption being a life-long commitment. We talk about having a family to come home to on the holidays, having grandparents for their kids one day, someone to call for advice, etc. Sometimes I talk about how adoption has touched my life and how even in adulthood we depend so much on each other. Some of the greatest joys of this job are finding our teens their forever family.
One story that sticks out to me is a 16 year old girl who was adopted by her adoption specialist/prior dependency case manager. “Staci” was in and out of foster care for some of her childhood and then again was removed from her home when she was 12 years old. Her parents’ rights were terminated shortly after and she was available for adoption. During the last few years, Staci met with several families and attended recruitment activities. Though she interacted with many families she never felt a connection with any of them. The whole time, Staci had a very close relationship with her dependency case manager who later became her adoption specialist. Staci would always make comments that she wanted to be adopted by “someone like her (adoption specialist).” Last year, Staci’s adoption specialist and her partner expressed that they wanted to create a forever home for Staci. She decided that she wanted to be a part of their family as well and on July 23, 2015 her adoption was finalized. Though they have had many struggles over the past year, they are committed to each other. It is such a blessing to see our kids in homes where they will be supported and given a chance to have a successful future. I am privileged to be a part of families growing through adoption…just like my family was 37 years ago.
Jill Ortiz is a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter who works every day to find permanent, loving homes for children in foster care.