For nearly 30 years, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has been the only public nonprofit charity in the United States that is focused exclusively on foster care adoption. In this 2020 annual report, we are pleased to highlight the signature programs, partnerships and awareness-building efforts that are helping to achieve our vision: every child will have a permanent home and a loving family.
Every year, more than 20,000 youth age out of foster care in the United States with no permanent family and no safety net. These young people are at a higher risk of homelessness, unemployment and other negative outcomes.
With the support of donors like you, the Foundation is working tirelessly to find adoptive homes for children still waiting in foster care before it’s too late.
We are nearing the end of the first phase of our 12-year business plan to expand the Foundation’s signature adoption program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids®, to serve more youth in foster care who are often overlooked. To date, 11 states have scaled the program, and our partnerships in Ohio and Kentucky celebrated their 1,000th and 500th adoptions, respectively, over the last year. We are currently exploring the next phase of expansion across the United States.
As the COVID-19 crisis creates even more uncertainty and instability for the children we serve, our resolve to advance our mission is stronger than ever. Unfortunately, the pandemic has slowed fundraising efforts, as we had to cancel several major events. But even in a crisis, our work cannot stop.
A few highlights of our impact from this year:
- Solidified partnerships to expand Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in Michigan, Nevada and Oklahoma. As of June 30, 2020, nearly 450 Wendy’s Wonderful Kids adoption recruiters have found forever families for a cumulative total of more than 9,000 children across the United States.
- Trained more than 100 new Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters virtually to implement the Foundation’s evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. These adoption professionals have used technology and found safe, creative ways to assure that the more than 7,000 children currently being served by the program did not have a pause in service or advocacy on their behalf.
- Urged decision-makers to think creatively and encouraged local judges to facilitate virtual adoption hearings. In Florida, the state’s 100th virtual adoption was a young woman served by the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program.
- Raised awareness through TV and radio public service announcements, social media, digital advertising, partnerships and more. We shared the ways recruiters are helping to keep adoptions moving during COVID-19 through interviews with TV and radio stations, podcasts and newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Because of our caring community of supporters, siblings Lexi and Nick, of Ohio, now have the one thing they always wanted — a forever family. “I feel as if I can be whoever I want to be,” says Lexi. You will read how adoption changed the journey for Lexi and Nick and other youth who lingered in foster care for years without the comfort and security of a permanent home.
We are so grateful to our many dedicated partners and donors whose continued support helps us accelerate our mission. No matter what circumstances we face, from a pandemic to natural disasters, we must work together to serve the more than 120,000 children still waiting to be adopted from foster care.
They cannot wait until tomorrow. They are counting on us today.
With deep gratitude and all good wishes,
Rita L. Soronen
President & CEO
This letter was featured in the 2020 annual report (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020).