By Rita Soronen
President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
Every child deserves a safe, loving and permanent family. That is the simple yet profound motivation behind National Adoption Month. Celebrated across North America each November, this special month of awareness helps to increase the number of families willing to consider adoption and celebrates the joys of creating families through foster care adoption.
During the past 25 years, the Foundation has successfully increased both the awareness of this cause and the need for qualified, well-supported foster and adoptive parents. For example, in our release of the 2017 National Foster Care Adoption Attitudes Survey, we found that of Americans who have never adopted but are considering it, 80% are considering foster care adoption (an increase of seven percentage points). Through our signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, nearly 7,000 children and youth now have a permanent family. And this year, more employers than ever participated in the Adoption-Friendly Workplace campaign and are providing benefits to their employees who adopt.
This year, we are also excited to share that the Foundation entered into an unprecedented phase of growth that will allow us to reach our goal of embedding and fully scaling Wendy’s Wonderful Kids in all 50 states and D.C. by 2028. That means that every child in our target population of older youth, children in sibling groups, children with special needs and youth who have lingered in foster care the longest will have a specially-trained adoption recruiter using an evidence-based model working on their behalf to assure that they leave foster care with the permanent family they deserve.
Through our work, nearly 7,000 children, who were most at risk of leaving foster care without a family, now have one to call their own. Children like Dawson and Dalton, who were at risk of being separated in the foster care system due to Dalton’s special needs, will now grow up together with parents who can support and nurture them. Watch the video below to see more of their story.
But, our work is far from done. There are more than 110,000 children in the United States still waiting to be adopted. That statistic includes children in every community in every state who are growing up without permanent families. They entered foster care through no fault of their own, as victims of child abuse, neglect or abandonment and, too often, they linger in the very system created to assure them a safe and permanent home.
The typical child waiting to be adopted in the United States is eight years old, moves three or more times in foster care, may have been separated from siblings, and will wait five years or more to be adopted. Tragically, more than 20,000 youth each year leave the system at age 18 or 21 without the love and support that a forever family provides.
As we celebrate National Adoption Month, please remember that there is a critical need for Americans to become aware and involved. Everyone can make a difference – by fostering, adopting or mentoring a child from foster care and by supporting the work of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Foundation. Our founder, Dave Thomas, reminded us each and every day that “these children are not someone else’s responsibility – they are our responsibility.”
The Foundation’s step-by-step adoption guide, Finding Forever Families, helps to clarify terminology, responds to frequently asked questions and guides potential adoptive parents through ten steps to adopt. It is available for free by mail or download. And for more ways you can support foster care adoption through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, visit www.davethomasfoundation.org.