Being a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption professional takes more than understanding the child-focused recruitment model. It’s about being an advocate, a cheerleader for children waiting in foster care. It takes persistence, compassion and strategic thinking to find the right family for every child.
Because last year’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Summit was canceled due to the pandemic, the Foundation announced the 2020 and 2021 Supervisor and Recruiter of the Year awards during this year’s event and shared highlights of their life-changing impact.
Jessica, Supervisor (Georgia)
Jessica supports the recruiters on her team with devotion to the child-focused recruitment model. One recruiter shared, “Jessica knows our cases almost as well as we do. She makes recommendations to best serve each child and celebrates each victory no matter how small. She always has our backs!” Another called Jessica an “incredible leader” whose experience is “simply unrivaled.”
Kelly, Recruiter (Newfoundland)
Sometimes being a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter means challenging myths, and that is what Kelly did to find a forever family for Breanna. By age 10, Breanna had been in foster care for more than six years. Kelly identified Breanna’s aunt as a potential adoptive placement, but the young woman’s grandmother was skeptical that a single parent could provide a stable, permanent home for her granddaughter. Kelly worked with the entire family to make the match happen. On the day her adoption was finalized, Breanna told the judge, “Now, I never have to worry about where I am going, or where I belong.”
Darrin, Recruiter (Kentucky)
The road to permanency is often full of twists and turns. But in his diligent search for the right family for every child on his caseload, Darrin takes each turn with grace and determination. In one instance, a young boy named Garrett wanted to be adopted by his grandmother. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible. But after doing a deep dive into Garett’s family tree, Darrin located some distant cousins ― a connection that eventually led to finding Garrett a permanent home. Now, Garrett sees his extended family almost every week for barbecues, swimming and other activities.
Karen, Supervisor (Ontario)
Karen is a true champion for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, who has continuously fought for funding to keep the program thriving in her agency and province. She also consistently goes above and beyond to connect the Foundation’s staff with key stakeholders in Ontario and share the great work and stories of Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in Canada. With a wealth of child welfare experience, Karen often steps in to help the recruiters on her team when they are in need.
Arin, Supervisor (Kentucky)
Arin not only lives and breathes the child-focused recruitment model, but she also helps educate other adoption professionals in Kentucky about the benefits of the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. Arin’s work has led to increased referrals to Wendy’s Wonderful Kids and better working relationships between her recruiters and state caseworkers. She is an amazing leader and teammate.
Megan, Recruiter (New York)
The first time that Megan met Tommy, he had just been moved from his second long-term adoptive placement. Megan assured him that she would make sure that his next home was his last home. But with every bit of distrust, Tommy responded, “Do you know how many people have said that to me before?” Following our child-focused recruitment model, Megan found two families with a connection and attachment to Tommy. In listening to Tommy’s wishes, she determined that a family who had provided respite care to him was the best fit. Tommy agreed, and his adoption was finalized in 2020.
Alexandra, Recruiter (Ohio)
Tori had lived in 17 foster care homes over eight years when she was referred to Alexandra’s caseload. Using an extensive wraparound approach to recruitment, Alexandra identified a former foster family of Tori’s who was interested in adopting her, but the clock was ticking. Tori was going to turn 18 soon. She moved into the home, but was soon hospitalized due to medical challenges. The family stood by her side. When Tori was ready to come home, she went back to the family and continued the adoption process. During this time, Tori turned 18. Alexandra helped the family pursue an adult adoption — the first in their county.
Anne, Recruiter (South Dakota)
When Anne first met Chase, he asked if she was going to help his grandmother adopt him. He wanted to stay within his tribal culture and close to his siblings who were being adopted by family members. Anne met with the family and showed great respect for their culture and Chase’s desire to remain close. After working with his foster family and looking at all possible family connections, Anne determined that with the right support, Chase’s grandparents would be the right fit. It was clear that they were better together. Chase was adopted by his grandparents in 2020.
These individuals are representative of the more than 600 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption professionals across the United States and Canada who are leaders and heroes for all that they do every day for youth in need. Watch highlights of their impact from the past year.