Toronto, Canada — At just 2 months old, Rhianna was placed in foster care due to neglect. She spent the next 15 years waiting for a permanent family, feeling unlovable and terrified for the future.
“I didn’t feel like anybody would want me,” shared Rhianna. “I never really celebrated my birthday because instead of a celebration of getting older, it was I’m less likely to be adopted.”
Thankfully, Rhianna’s journey changed when she was referred to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption-Canada’s Wendy’s Wonderful KidsTM program and met her recruiter, Michelle, from The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids professionals, like Michelle, use an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model to find forever families for the longest-waiting children in foster care. A key component of the model is building a trusting relationship with youth to help them unpack fears and misconceptions about adoption.
“One of the things that I do remember appreciating was that Michelle made the attempts to get to know me and make me very comfortable first before we started working on some of the harder stuff,” said Rhianna.
Over time, Rhianna began to feel hopeful about the possibility of being adopted. That’s when Rhianna approached her provincial social worker of eight years, Reegan, with an idea.
“She said, ‘So, I’ve made some decisions,’ and she goes, ‘You’re like a mom to me. So, I’m choosing you. I’d like you to be my adoptive mom,”’ reflected Reegan.
Michelle supported Rhianna and Reegan’s adoption journey every step of the way.
“There were a lot of challenges because this was the first time that something like this happened in our agency,” said Michelle. “And there were a lot of layers of potential conflict of interest that we needed to go through, but I did feel that this was worth fighting for.”
Just days before she turned 18, Rhianna was adopted by Reegan, giving her the security, stability and love of a permanent family. Rhianna is now making friends, looking forward to her future and planning to attend college to study theater.
“Before adoption, I felt very alone. I worried I would never have anybody to call my family. Now that I am adopted, I know my family will be there. I don’t have to worry about being alone anymore,” Rhianna said.
While Rhianna has the opportunity for a bright future with the support of a permanent family, thousands of youth in Canada are at risk of aging out of foster care right now. Donate now to help the Foundation find forever homes for these young people … before it’s too late.