Our history

Our story began in 1990, when Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, accepted President George H.W. Bush’s invitation to be the spokesperson for a national adoption awareness campaign. Just two years later, Dave established The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption as a public charity with one primary goal: to help every child in foster care find a loving, permanent family.

National attention

Throughout the 90s, Dave Thomas lead a national awareness campaign for foster care adoption. In 1997, he testified before Congress to support an adoption tax credit that aims to make adoption more affordable. He also worked to create a national adoption stamp. His extraordinary efforts were rewarded when Congress signed the tax credit into law and the U.S. Postal Service issued the DTFA stamp countrywide.

His mission continues

Sadly, in 2002, Dave Thomas passed away and the adoption community lost its biggest champion. Today, we continue to carry out his mission. We commissioned a landmark survey to research the public’s attitudes and perceptions about adoption. We spearhead National Adoption Day, an annual event when judges across the country make it a priority to finalize pending foster care adoptions.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

Then, in 2004, we launched our largest ongoing fundraising program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a partnership with Wendy’s restaurants that funds adoption professionals to find families for children in foster care. The program was piloted it in seven cities and its first initiative, the national coin canister campaign, was implemented to collect donations from Wendy’s customers across the country. By 2006, this signature program had expanded to every state in the U.S., the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces.

Our work continues as we strive to make the world a better place through adoption, one child at a time. For more than 20 years after our founding, Dave’s inspiring call to action keeps us moving forward every day for children in foster care. They deserve nothing less than our best effort.