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This Fast Food Tycoon Changed Thousands of Children’s Lives

You know Dave Thomas as the founder of Wendy’s fast-food chain, but what you may not know is that he was one of the greatest advocates for local foster care adoption. You see, Dave Thomas knew local foster care adoption could work because he was proof that it does.

Thomas made it his life’s mission to make people aware of the local foster care adoption programs across the country that were full of children who needed loving homes. He felt that a loving home was all children needed to go on and do great things. It worked for him, and he gave back tremendously to the community.

Dave Thomas’ Story

Thomas was so grateful for the support he received from his adoptive family that he became an advocate for local foster care adoption. He was born in 1932 in Atlantic City, NJ, and adopted by a couple from Kalamazoo, MI. He never knew his birth parents.

His adoptive mother passed away when he was five years old. By the time he reached the age of 10, he had not only lost his adoptive mother but had lost two stepmothers as well. He often referred to his adoptive grandmother Minnie as one of the biggest influences in his life. He spent summers with her in Maine.

As a child, Thomas’ family moved around a lot. His father was on a constant hunt for work and dragged the young Thomas around from state to state with him. They landed in Fort Wayne, IN, when Dave was 15. When shortly thereafter it was time to move again, Dave dug in his heels and refused to leave. He dropped out of high school in the 10th grade and went to work full time to support himself.

He served in the Korean war, and when he returned, his former boss offered him a position to turn around the failing and fledgling Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises that he had purchased. A light bulb came on for Thomas. He took on the challenge and took went a step further by opening a couple of KFC franchises in Ohio where he thought they could succeed. He did not stay in the chicken game for long. He sold the franchises back to the company about a year and a half later for over $1 million.

Thomas was already a father of five when he launched his first Wendy’s, named after his eight-year-old daughter Melinda Lou (nicknamed Wendy). Within a decade, there were over 1000 franchises. He only remained at the helm of Wendy’s for four short years but became the face of Wendys thanks to some very popular commercials.

While all this was going on in Thomas’ life, he never forgot that his life started with someone giving a child for adoption. Local foster care adoption was always his passion. He talked about local foster care adoption with anyone who would listen. From his family dentist and his mechanic to his customers and his staff, anyone who would stand still long enough knew Dave’s passion.

About Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Dave put his passion to work and created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption was established in 1992 with a simple mission. The foundation supports local foster care adoption programs to simplify the adoption process and help make it more affordable.

One of the biggest obstacles to bringing loving parents and children together is the cost. It can be cost-prohibitive for good people to adopt children who need a loving home. Everything from the current heating oil price and medical care cost can be a roadblock to adoption. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption helps to remove financial roadblocks.

The foundation is credited with finding forever homes for more than 9500 children to date. The foundation uses a model that matches children with families through recruitment. Local foster care adoption services do not have the resources to give each child or “case” the individualized attention they need. The foundation has three core beliefs: every child deserves a loving home, every child is adoptable, and no child should linger in foster care.

The program funds adoption professionals that work as recruiters to match children with loving parents. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is the flagship program of the foundation.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is the core program at the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation. It funds adoption professionals to recruit parents for children in foster care. The program has enjoyed tremendous success. Research has shown that the program’s model is three times more effective than traditional local foster care adoption models.

The recruiters work with small caseloads of children, which frees them up to give each child the attention they need and deserve. Some statistics about the children who are referred to a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter include:

  • 33% of the children referred to a recruiter have been placed six or more times with foster parents.
  • About 90% of the children are over the age of eight.
  • More than 52% of the kids have been in foster care for four or more years.

Recruiters use a proven method to find forever homes for kids by contacting the circle of known family members, then they move on to neighbors, and finally reach out to the community. The recruiters understand the things that can make people hesitant to take on another child. They get that preventative dental care for kids, and other costs can give people pause. They work with families to navigate the costs of local foster care adoption to ensure that the children find the loving homes that they deserve.

This program is making a tremendous difference in children’s lives across the country. What started as a grassroots effort by Thomas has grown into a national network of recruiters in all 50 states. More than 475 recruiters are working hard every day to find homes for children in foster care.

What is Foster Care Supposed to Be?

Local foster care adoption centers are supposed to be just a waiting point. It is not supposed to be a permanent solution, yet foster care does become a permanent solution for many children until they age out of the system. Think of it this way, if you have a plumbing leak, you may tie it off with a rag until the plumber gets there, but you know that the rag is not a permanent answer. Neither is foster care a permanent answer.

Children need stability. Roofing services are necessary to give your home stability, and adoption is necessary to give a child stability. Foster care was never designed to be a permanent solution for a child that has been removed from their parent’s care.

Moving from place to place with the hopes of finding a permanent home is something you do with enclosed trailers in the yard, not something you do with children. It is tragic to think that some children have had six different fostering situations by the time they are eight years old.

Why do kids get stuck in foster care? The answer is simple. Local foster care adoption procedures are not as easy as a notary puts their stamp on some documents. The adoption process can be daunting at best. It can be expensive and scare a lot of people away. Many loving parents would love to adopt, but the process can be very complicated at a local foster care adoption agency.

Sometimes, a child will get stuck in the foster care system simply because they have fallen through the cracks. Overworked caseworkers at the local foster care adoption agency do not have the time to give each child the attention that their case needs to find a permanent home.

Sometimes, a child may have disabilities that have not been addressed. It can be something simple but overlooked, like the need to visit an oral surgery practice to correct a problem causing a speech impediment. There are a lot of reasons why a child gets stuck in this endless temporary holding pattern.

In some cases, foster parents bite off more than they can chew and send the children back, which requires finding new temporary lodging for the child. When this happens, the entire process starts all over. It can make it far too easy for a child to “get lost” in the system and fall through the cracks.

Clearing Up Some Myths About Local Foster Care Adoption

Getting involved and fostering a child with the potential of adoption is a great way to make a difference in a child’s life. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths when it comes to fostering children. Clearing up those myths can help spread the word about the benefits of fostering a child.

If I Work Full Time I Cannot Be a Foster Parent

You do not have to be a stay at home parent to be a foster parent. You can go ahead and look for the RVS for sale that you want to buy, keep your job to pay for it, and be a foster parent. If the child needs daycare while you work, that does not exclude you from being a foster parent.

I Cannot Afford to Foster a Child

All expenses for the child, like food, medical care, and more, are covered by the state. You should only have minimal out of pocket expenses for the care of the child. Don’t let money worries keep you from changing a life.

I Will Have No Control Over Who I Foster

You do have control over who you foster. You can specify the gender and age range. You can also call the social worker if the child you are fostering is not a good match for your family. The social workers want the family and the child to be happy with the placement.

I Cannot Adopt the Children I Foster

While it is true about 50% of the children that come from local foster care adoption agencies do reunite with their biological families, there are more than 50,000 kids at any given time who never will. That means many, many children are eligible to be adopted. Let your local foster care adoption agency know that your ultimate goal is to adopt and they will keep this in mind when placing a child with you for foster care.

I Cannot Afford the Cost of Adoption

While it is true that the cost of adoption can be cost-prohibitive through private agencies, when you adopt through your local foster care adoption agency, the cost can be nothing. Many agencies will reimburse you for any costs that have gone toward the adoption.

The Birth Mother Can Show Up At Any Time

Adopting from your local foster care adoption services is legally binding. That means that no one can take the child from you once the court has certified the adoption. The success rate for adoptions without issues by the local foster care adoption services are about 98%. Before a child is considered for adoption the courts have legally severed both parent’s rights to the child.

You Have to be Experienced to Foster or Adopt

You do not have to be an experienced parent to foster or adopt. All you need to do is be able to love a child. Biological parents make mistakes all the time. A child just needs love, encouragement, and to be kept safe.

If you cannot foster right now, consider it an option in the future. If you still want to help, donate to the Dave Thomas Adoption Foundation. Every child deserves a permanent, safe, loving home. There are so many kids out there who can use your help. Get involved.

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