Ohio — Born with health challenges that required a triple organ transplant, Samantha was placed into foster care as an infant due to medical neglect. Her biological family was unable to care for her complex needs. And for the next 14 years, Samantha moved in and out of foster homes.
Thankfully, everything changed when Ken and Aaryn learned about Samantha through a family friend who had adopted her former foster sibling. With support from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Ken and Aaryn adopted Samantha just before her 15th birthday.
“She spent a lot of her childhood years in the hospital,” said Aaryn, Samantha’s mom. “Cognitively, she’s about 7 or 8 years old.”
Samantha’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, Amy, who works with one of the Foundation’s agency partners, played a critical role in the family’s adoption journey.
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids professionals, like Amy, serve children in foster care who are too often overlooked, including teenagers, siblings and children with special needs. A rigorous, five-year national evaluation revealed that children referred to the program are up to 3x more likely to be adopted.
“Amy’s so sweet. She’s a great communicator. She’s just been very open with our family and very encouraging with all of us,” said Aaryn.
Today, Samantha is thriving with Ken and Aaryn by her side. She has been introduced to many firsts, including celebrating birthdays, holidays and going bowling. She also loves the color purple, Bluey and meals from Wendy’s.
“(I like to) play on the playground with mom,” shared Samantha.
With the support of her family, Samantha has become more independent and can perform tasks that she was unable to do before.
But most important, Samantha finally knows what it feels like to be loved unconditionally.
“When she came to us, we had to spend some time talking with her counselor at the time, just helping her to understand what a mom and dad and siblings are,” shared Aaryn. “Now, Samantha loves having a family. She has a mom, dad, siblings, grandma, and she is even an aunt!”
Are you interested in opening your heart to a waiting child? Explore the Foundation’s free, step-by-step adoption guide to get started.