Arizona — Johnathan and Patty were placed in foster care due to neglect as their biological mother struggled with drug addiction. Scared for their future, Johnathan vividly remembers the night they were removed from their house.
“It was just me and my little sister,” said Johnathan. “I was pretty freaked out, because I didn’t know where my mom was.”
Johnathan expected that he would be in a group home until he turned 18 and would age out of the system. He felt lonely and didn’t think he could trust adults in his life. He often acted as a parental figure for Patty.
Thankfully, after four long years in foster care, Johnathan and Patty’s journey changed when they were adopted with help from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and their Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® recruiter, John, from Aid to Adoption of Special Kids.
Through our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, the Foundation supports the hiring of adoption professionals, known as recruiters, who are dedicated to serving children in foster care who are too often overlooked. That includes teenagers, children with special needs and siblings, like Johnathan and Patty.
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters use an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model to find the right family for every child in their care. They 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.
Late one night, John received a call that Johnathan and Patty needed a new place to stay. That’s when they moved into a foster home with Jeanie and Jeff.
“I think it was kind of nice for the kids to come here as foster children,” shared Jeanie. “They didn’t have to meet us as their adoptive parents. It’s like going on a first date knowing you’re going to marry the person — it’s too much pressure.”
It was also important for Jeanie and Jeff to ensure Johnathan and Patty had a voice in their adoption.
“Each was very different when we asked them if they wanted us to adopt them,” reflected Jeanie. “I mean, Patty from pretty much a month in was like, ‘Adopt me now, now, now,’ and Johnathan was more chill and holding his cards close to his chest. But he said, ‘Yeah, that’d be cool.’”
During the adoption process, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, John was dedicated to nurturing a trusting relationship with Johnathan and Patty to understand their unique needs. That included making sure that their birth mother could be an active part of their lives so long as it was safe to do so.
“We want to let the children stay safe in all their relationships, and that first family is an important piece of their history,” said John. “When you can meld that first family in with their new family, then it’s a growth of a family. It’s not choosing between a family.”
Today, Johnathan feels being adopted has opened his ability to trust people. He and Patty finally have the security and stability they deserve.
“It’s much funner growing up with your family,” shared Patty.
While Johnathan and Patty have the opportunity for a bright future with the support of their forever family, thousands of youth are at risk of aging out of foster care right now. They need your support before the clock runs out on their childhood. Visit our Ways To Give page to discover how you can make a difference.