Staff & guest blogs
The first year of my life was spent in foster care, yet I have no memory of it. My adoptive parents often told me the story (at my requests) of when they first picked me up from my foster family in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For most of my life, it was the only piece of my early history that someone I knew could recount for me from memory.
My parents told me what wonderful people my foster parents were. My mother and I would send letters to them annually, with various photos, and pictures of me playing sports, musical recitals, and school photos. We rarely received a response from my foster mother, and when we did, it would be a short acknowledgement that she received our package, and not much more. I always sensed that she was guarding herself from me for some reason.
I was adopted into a large family in Washington State, with seven other siblings – five of whom were also adopted through foster care. I’ve always had this insatiable drive to find, meet and connect with my birth mother in Chattanooga, even with having a great childhood and upbringing.
There were so many questions – who is she? Where is my birth father? Did other family members know I was born? Do I have any full siblings? The questions kept coming and morphed into different forms of the same question as my cognitive ability, skillful reasoning, and imagination expanded. My tenacious drive (along with help from my family), combined with extraordinary circumstances, led me to have a series of reunions with my birth family members over the course of several years during my mid-twenties. These interactions comprise much of the feature length documentary Closure, filmed and edited by my husband, Bryan.
The decision to make my story public was one that came with a lot of thought and countless conversations with Bryan about the hope for education, as well as the consequence of my loss of privacy. We chose to have the film explore the thoughts and reactions of many members of my family (birth and adoptive) as I made this journey. Bryan felt it was important to include the first-hand accounts of all of those around me who were affected by both my birth parents’ choice for adoption, as well as my choice to search and ultimately reunite. We debated whether or not to include one particular scene, as it didn’t fit in with the story of finding my birth family, which was the main premise of the film. This scene on the chopping block was the reunion with my foster family in Chattanooga – the first time seeing them since I was one year old. Ultimately, the experience of this reunion was too powerful to exclude from the film, and I realized that learning the truth about my foster family was a large piece of my life puzzle. To see where I was born, where I was transferred, and to meet the folks who knew me and cared for me at a critical stage in my life.
During our reunion my foster mother told me of how she and her husband had wanted to adopt me, but they were unable to at that time. She told me stories of doctor’s early predictions that I would likely never walk. She told me of the hours and hours on end that she would work to loosen my legs in order to put on a diaper, and the daily trips to the physical therapist where folks would watch in wonder as this Caucasian woman worked with me as if I were her own flesh and blood (mid 1980s). She spoke of how she’d wondered what I had thought about them over the years, admitting that even thinking about me was hard for her, and that she had a tough time going back to those memories. The loss she describes seemed to equate to the overwhelming feelings I was having as she spoke about me as a parentless baby. It was in this anticipated moment of reconnection and reunion that we both realized the deep bonds that were formed between us in my first year.
If my foster mother’s scent was bottled up in a jar, unlabeled amongst five other unlabeled scents, I’d pick hers out in an instant. I knew her smell, and when we hugged, those preverbal memories imprinted somewhere within my body came flooding back. I had spent so much energy over the years fantasizing about how I would feel when meeting my birth parents, that I largely overlooked the significance of this reunion. One hug with my foster mother felt like a missing puzzle piece being snapped into place.
In my previous time working as an adoption social worker, and speaking about adoption at Closure screenings and other events, I always emphasize adoption through foster care. The idea of building a family through foster care is so commonplace and normal to me, as my parents chose to have one child biologically and adopt the rest of my siblings through foster care. It’s a wonder to me how foster care or fostering with the intention to adopt is still largely considered a second choice, or something someone else will do. As the Super Bowl Champion quarterback Russell Wilson (go Seattle!) preaches: “Why not us?” I certainly understand the challenges that come with foster adoption, and know that not every person is equipped to handle those challenges. However, when I meet prospective adoptive parents who fear the unknowns of foster adoption, I often find myself responding with a variation of – “Why not you?”
As an adult adoptee I am now able to more clearly articulate feelings, and can attest to the fact that I am here not solely because of my birthparents, but also because of the supporting cast of family members – foster and adoptive – who played huge support roles in my early life. I am reminded that we are all interconnected beings with basic needs, and we are surrounded by folks who are willing, able, and ready to step in to fill these voids. Sometimes we just need some encouragement and perspective.
Our nation needs more permanent homes for our precious, bright children in foster care. My only question is – “Why not you?”
Written by Angela Tucker.
For a limited time, Bryan and Angela Tucker are offering 25% off the digital download of “Closure” with code DTFA. Purchase here.
As the director of our grantmaking programs, I get to meet many funders from across the nation. We trade ideas on topics that help us all become better grantmakers. One of the most common things I hear is how many of them struggle with mission and measurement. In other words: “Are we specific enough about the change we are trying to make, and how do we measure it? How do we know if we are moving the needle?”
At the Foundation, I am glad we can answer those questions with a definitive yes. And here’s how. (more…)
Senior Director, Marketing & Communications
It’s what we do every day in pursuit of our mission: To dramatically increase the number of adoptions of waiting children in foster care.
It’s also how we lead our organization, knowing that when we do good, others do better – including the people we lead and the children we work for.
Take a look at the six internal brand promises we refer to every day at the Foundation. Let me know what you think. (more…)
We’re right in the middle of National Infertility Awareness Week and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has joined the movement with RESOLVE. As a part of this partnership, we are sharing information about building a family through adoption from foster care.
Since 1989, RESOLVE has organized a dedicated week to raise awareness about infertility. And every April, professionals, bloggers, support groups and those living with infertility share their stories and advice. They encourage more people to educate themselves and to consider all the roads to build a family.
Unfortunately, infertility is all too common. One in eight couples of childbearing age is impacted by infertility, according to the Center for Disease Control.
But infertility doesn’t have to be the end of the story. (more…)
Today’s guest blog is by Greg Reiff
My wife and I had been trying to get pregnant for almost four years. There were no real reasons for us being unable to get pregnant. We were even trying any means to get pregnant outside of in-vitro fertilization. It just costs so much and only has a 10-20 percent success rate. We were getting very frustrated and spent many days crying over our dilemma.
About Christmastime, 2006, after months of tests and retests at a local hospital for my wife, Krista, and me – and seeing numerous friends and family announce their pregnancies – we became very distraught over the infertility process as a whole.
My wife lovingly shared with me that she was starting to feel like adoption was our only hope for a family, and that she really wanted to be a mom. I still thought that if we just kept trying, we would eventually be able to conceive a child. (more…)
I had the incredible honor to be at the very beginning of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Together with Dave and many others, we shaped the very first mission, goals and objectives. I know without any doubt that Dave would be incredibly proud of what DTFA stands for, and what it has accomplished over two decades.
My favorite milestone constantly repeats itself … witnessing the power of the human spirit in the lives of the children we serve. (more…)
Today’s guest post is by April Martinez
Our story began when my husband and I got married in July of 2005. Two weeks later he left for Iraq and six months later I left for Afghanistan. Almost two years after he left, we were finally together – thanks to a nice four-month extension I received at the last minute. One if the things that got me though all that time apart was the dream of starting a family once I returned home. One would think it would be a very simple process. However, for us, it was not.
While we were able to get pregnant (eight times in all), each time the baby became an angel before we could welcome them into our arms. It all finally became too much for us. We were not sure where to start so we got some adoption books and explored our options. International adoption was not within our means (not enough leave time from the military to fulfill requirements), and we were turned away from domestic adoption agencies for being dual military, so we inquired to our local foster care agency. (more…)
Change a child’s life – in so many ways.
In November 2004, during National Adoption Month, Wendy’s restaurants offered the first system-wide canister program to benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. That month, every Wendy’s restaurant received two coin canisters to display on their counters for one month.
We were astounded at the fundraising result: $44,041.
And then, feedback from the operators indicated Wendy’s customers would be willing to support the program even longer. (more…)
By Carrie Boerio
Senior Director of Programs
Read part 1 of our favorite milestones.
Not long after I joined the Foundation, I had the privilege of participating in the birth of something wonderful.
The Foundation had done great work over the years, but our leader, Rita Soronen, wanted to implement an aggressive new strategy. She knew the direction she wanted us to go – to provide desperately-needed, dedicated adoption resources at the local level — but we had to define who, what, when, where, how and how much. We already knew why: we needed to be able to point to one child and say “the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption found a loving, permanent family for this child who was waiting in foster care to be adopted.” And we needed to be able to say it for thousands of children in the United States and Canada. As a result, in April of 2004, we launched what has become our largest signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.
We piloted the program in seven sites, providing local adoption agencies with the funding, the model and the method of accountability to implement child-focused recruitment. With the Foundation’s funding, the local agency hired a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiter to work exclusively on finding a family for each child. The recruiter built a caseload of the longest-waiting children in their area and worked individually with each child, focusing on his or her unique needs.
The Foundation has found families for more than 3,400 children who would otherwise have been likely to leave the foster care system at age 18 … alone. Today, we have 169 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters spread throughout North America working with urgency, in a way that has been proven to work much better than business as usual. You can be a part of this truly wonderful result. Visit our website to find a recruiter near you, get a free guide to adoption, follow us on social media, or see all of the many ways you can support our work.
With the help of one person at a time, we can find a family for one child at a time, until every child has a family. Won’t that be wonderful?
If you are considering adoption, or in the adoption process, you probably have heard about the Federal Adoption Tax Credit (ATC). Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusing information about the ATC and I would like to clear that up for you. It is understandable that it is confusing because the rules keep changing.
The ATC is available for adoptive parents who have adopted a child who is not their spouse’s child. It is available for foster care adoptions, private domestic adoptions, and international adoptions. The rules for each type of adoption are a little different. (more…)