Earlier this month, we shared with you how proud and honored we are to be to implementing Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. In this blog, you were also able to meet our Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiters: Chelsey Castro and Stephanie Griffith. We sat down with them to better understand the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids model, which is up to three times more effective at serving children who have been in foster care the longest, including older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs.
Stephanie Explains Diligent Search
As a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter, I follow a child-focused recruitment model which has been proven to help children in foster care find adoptive families. A significant part of the model is diligent search – the ongoing process to identify, locate and contact people with whom the child has or had a relationship with.
To me, a diligent search is another opportunity for the children in our program to build lasting connections with people they already know. It is the first step we take. Once we feel like we have exhausted all of our resources with biological family, we will explore the child’s extended network. This includes teachers, church members, coaches, mentors, etc. Child-focused recruitment truly highlights all avenues of a child’s life. I believe it is the best approach to a successful adoption.
Chelsey Speaks To The Success: Ja’Kye’Ya & J’Andre
- 2008: Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre came into care.
- 2009: Parental rights terminated.
- 2013: They entered the Wendy’s caseload.
- 2018: Diligent search process started.
- 2019: Adopted!
When Ja’Kye’Yaand J’Andre came into care, they were diagnosed with many disorders related to neglect. In June 2018, I conducted a diligent search for Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre, sending out 32 letters to potential relatives. Out of the 32 letters, I received two call backs: one from biological mom and the second from their maternal aunt, Mrs. Jones. After meeting with both, Mrs. Jones stated she was very heart broken to hear her niece and nephew were still in foster care and in separate homes. She was very excited to hear from me that she could potentially adopt Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre. I stayed in weekly contact with Mrs. Jones and provided her with resources on how to become a licensed adoptive family. Mrs. Jones started all the necessary paper work and did not waste anytime. She was eager to adopt Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre!
In August 2018, I set up an initial visit at Main Event for Ja’Kye’Ya, J’Andre and the Jones family. At first, Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre were very shy and shocked they were able to meet biological family. I helped mediate the initial conversation between them. After sitting down and having lunch with each other, they immediately began to bond. Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre were very excited to hear they had an opportunity to live with their aunt and uncle (and each other). J’Andre stated he thought it was too good to be true. Ja’Kye’Ya stated she loves her family so much. They both couldn’t wait to live with them!
One-Year Later: Adopted!
Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre were adopted April 2019 and are no longer in foster care. Ja’Kye’Ya and J’Andre are both thriving in placement, and for the first time, J’Andre is in all regular classes and passing.