New York — Merriah was placed in foster care when she was 6 years old after enduring abuse and neglect. For nine long years, she moved between multiple foster homes and her mother’s home.
As the years went by, Merriah lost hope that she would ever have a permanent family.
“I didn’t think I was going to get adopted,” recalled Merriah. “I knew what adoption was, but I just didn’t think that was something that was going to ever happen to me.”
Merriah felt invisible … until she was referred to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program and met her adoption recruiter, Megan.
Through our signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, the Foundation supports the hiring of adoption professionals, known as recruiters, who are dedicated serving children in foster care who are too often overlooked. That includes teenagers, children with special needs and siblings. These professionals use an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model to find the right family for every child.
A rigorous, five-year national evaluation revealed that children referred to Wendy’s Wonderful Kids are up to 3x more likely to be adopted.
As Megan got to know Merriah, she worked tirelessly to build a safe network of support for her, including mentors and supportive adults, like Emilie and John. The couple connected with Merriah through community activities, dinners and visits, where they would listen to what was happening in her life. Over time, Merriah began to open up to Emilie and John and felt like she could trust them.
Eventually, the foundation of trust that Emilie and John worked to build with Merriah grew into an unbreakable bond. Just before Merriah turned 15, Emilie and John stepped forward to become the permanent, loving family that she needed.
“It took a huge weight off my chest knowing that I didn’t have to worry about not having a home anymore,” said Merriah. “But the relief was definitely something that I struggled with. I haven’t felt relief literally at all in my life.”
And as Merriah worked through some big feelings, Emilie and John were there for her every step of the way.
“I think one of the biggest challenges in the beginning was she always had to be a little bit on the guarded side. Slowly but surely, we’ve seen her let her guard down, and we tell her that it’s okay to be a kid,” shared John. “Adoption has been eye-opening for me. I just want to be there and be supportive.”
Today, Merriah is on track to graduate high school with an associate degree. She plans to attend college and train to become a firefighter. She also has big dreams to start her own media management company, pursuing her love of arts.
“I think for her future, the opportunities are endless,” shared Emilie. “She has shown time and time again that she can do anything she sets her mind to.”
Whether you are an adoption professional, a prospective adoptive parent or someone interested in learning more about the process, our free, step-by-step guide is a valuable resource to help you make a difference in the life of a child. Download your copy.