You’re never too old for family

Posted on January 30, 2018

This blog was originally published online in January 2018 while Kerri Byrd served as a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter in Louisiana. We thank her for her many years of work finding forever homes for children in foster care.

Did you know that every single time a child in foster care has to move to a new part of their state, they are assigned a new caseworker? That means telling their story from the beginning, learning to trust a new person, physically packing up and emotionally feeling like they don’t belong… again. Each time that happens to a child on my caseload, I drive across the state and see the relief on their face that at least one of the adults in their life hasn’t disappeared.

I’m a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter and I’m the consistency for children in foster care who don’t know from day to day who the adults in their life will be.

I always knew I wanted to be a helper, but didn’t know what that looked like. A few classes and majors in college led me to social work and three years of being an adoption specialist in Louisiana led me to the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. I knew I wanted to work with older youth in foster care and after attending a training summit in 2016, I knew that I had “found my people.”

The work that I do is rewarding and I love building relationships with the children who I serve. Just recently, one of the teenagers on my caseload told me she didn’t trust anyone, but she trusted me. My heart soared. Trust is huge with teenagers in foster care and it’s not given out easily. It’s one of my greatest honors to earn the trust of a child on my caseload. This trust allows me to support them through the adoption process. I love helping families work through issues leading up to adoption day. I want to empower the youth I work with so they can move forward and make strong, good choices for their futures. I want them to know that one fight doesn’t mean the adults are going to leave. Relationships take work and that’s OK.

I’ll never forget the 17-year-old girl who felt a special bond with her foster mother. After a short respite placement, her foster mother knew they shared a connection, and decided that instead of just being a guardian, she wanted to adopt. She wanted to show this girl what commitment looked like, that she would always have someone to lean on. The adoption was finalized 10 days before the young lady’s 18th birthday. There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom that day. I mention that story every time a teen says they’re “too old” to be adopted. You’re never too old for family.