The Bond of a Father and Son: Ernesto and Jeff’s Story

Posted on June 2, 2023

Ohio — At 6 years old, Ernesto (“Ernie”) was found wandering the streets, trying to find food. Not receiving the care he needed, he was placed in foster care and waited for a permanent home for eight long years. 

“I was a little stressed out because I’ve moved around, I think four or five foster homes,” said Ernesto. “At one point, I thought I would probably be on the streets.” 

Thankfully, Ernesto’s journey changed when he was referred to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program and met his adoption recruiter, Darlene from Caring For Kids, Inc. 

Recruiters, like Darlene, work tirelessly to find forever families for children in foster care who are too often overlooked. That includes siblings, children with special needs, and teenagers like Ernesto. 

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption professionals begin their search within a child’s familiar circles of family, friends and neighbors and then reach out to the communities in which they live. 

“As Ernie’s recruiter, I exhausted all family,” shared Darlene. “I came upon Jeff, and I read all about him. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, he is perfect for Ernie.’ If any two people were made to be together, it’s the two of them.” 

It didn’t take long for Jeff and Ernesto to form a connection and realize they were meant to be a family. 

Ernie (adopted at 14), Darlene (recruiter) and Jeff (dad)

“It actually was our first meeting. I asked him, ‘Do you want to be adopted?’ He goes, ‘Yes,’ reflected Jeff. “On the way home, Darlene sent me a text, saying that Ernie was talking to his foster mom and said, ‘I think I found my new dad.’ So, for him, it was pretty quick, too.” 

Today, Ernesto is thriving with the support of a family that he knows isn’t going anywhere. He is making friends, learning to cook and thinking about his future … all with Jeff by his side. 

“Before I was adopted, I felt anxious. I felt nervous, I felt really quiet,” said Ernesto. “But when I got adopted, well, I can actually express my feelings and talk about them. I feel … happy.” 

Every child deserves to feel happy and grow up in a safe, permanent home. But, right now, thousands of children in the United States are still waiting for someone to step forward to adopt them. If you are interested in learning more about growing your family through adoption, download our free, step-by-step guide to get started.

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