Posts tagged wendy's wonderful kids
Posts tagged wendy's wonderful kids
Recently, The Sun reported about a new state initiative to prepare youth for life after foster care (“Preparing foster teens for life,” Aug. 20). While helping children in foster care gain the skills they need as adults is good thing, the right thing to do is help them find a permanent family.
At the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, we are doing just that. Our child-focused recruitment model, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK), works for all children who are waiting to be adopted from foster care. And the children in Florida and across the nation who have been labeled “unadoptable” — older youth, sibling groups, and children with special needs — are three times more likely to get adopted through our program.
Of the 883 children in foster care in Maryland, more than 40 children have had dedicated efforts to find homes, and 16 children have been adopted or are in permanent placement simply waiting for a court hearing to make their families final. While on the surface this number may seem less than impressive, consider that there is only one WWK recruiter working to serve the state’s longest-waiting children — those who previously were thought by others to be “unadoptable.”
The state of Ohio so enthusiastically believes in this foster care adoption model that it recently partnered with us to ensure that the children in the state’s foster care system most at risk of aging out are served through our program.
The goal shouldn’t be to simply prepare youth in foster care for emancipation. We must work harder to find every child a permanent adoptive family to call his or her own. As one former foster youth told us, “you are never too old to want a family.” And no one should settle for anything less. We won’t.
Rita Soronen, Columbus, Ohio
The writer is president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
(This letter was published in the Baltimore Sun Aug. 26, 2012.)
For most of this year I have had a copy of Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus at my desk. I read it immediately when the author, Deborah Jiang Stein, sent it to me, and then shared it with everyone I could. I mailed copies to my daughters, gave it to board members and tweeted that everyone should read it. I also enthusiastically promised that I would write a review. But for some reason, I have simply not been able to write that review. And now I know why.
But let me back up a bit. Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus is Ms. Stein’s very personal story of her journey from being born in a federal prison in West Virginia to a heroin addicted mother, to her life in Seattle as a multi-racial child in a Jewish family in the 60s, to her rebellion and travels as a young adult, to the quiet but vital return to her “birth country” – the first 12 months of her life in prison. The book at first read is her personal diary. Read again, though, it is quixotic, raw, metaphoric, harrowing and magical.
And that seems to be why I stopped trying to review Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus. What more could I possibly say, but “read this book!” Then I had the honor of meeting Ms. Stein. She graciously accepted our invitation to speak to the 250 adoption recruiters gathered at the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Summit in Columbus this past May. She shared her story in person and was engaging and funny and compelling. Before meeting her, it seemed like reviewing her book could simply not give it the weight she and her story deserved. But as she spoke and moved the audience to laughter and tears, I realized that, though very personal, this is also a story shared by the nearly 2.3 million children, most under the age of 10, who also have parents in prison. And for those of us without that shared experience, the story still speaks to the very human qualities in us all of resilience, acceptance, redemption and love.
Read Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus. In fact, read it twice. You will recognize so much behind the words, because there is a tough girl (or guy) and a quest for home in us all.
This video, released to highlight the positive findings of the Foundation’s five-year research evaluation of its Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, shows that the program works. And unadoptable is unacceptable.