Most days, Cori Olinger and Susan Wahlstrom travel across Indiana on a mission to find forever families for children who have waited for years to be adopted. They are The Villages’ recruiters for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption provides grants to public and private adoption agencies that hire professionals to work exclusively to place the longest-waiting children in foster care into adoptive families. Most of these children are special needs with some requiring medical care.
The Villages is one of several Indiana agencies selected to participate in this national program and receives a grant each year since to support our team in finding the right forever family for every child we serve.
Children referred to recruiters at The Villages are, on average, between the ages of 12-17 and have had at least six or more placements since entering the foster care system. Once a child is referred, Cori or Susan develops a specialized plan to find a family. They first look to family members with biological ties to the child. If none are found, they consider a child’s circles of contact in the community, such as neighbors and friends of the biological parents. Keeping every child’s best interest in mind, Cori and Susan continue looking for a forever family until one is found or the child ages out of the foster care system.
Searching for a family for children who are often looked past for adoption becomes a labor of love for the entire recruiting team. “You build relationships with these wonderful children and become attached. You want the best for them,” Cori says.
Cori and Susan each work with 12 to 15 children who are in need of a permanent, loving family. Cori has completed two adoptions since becoming a recruiter last year and currently, three children are matched with families.
“My job is not about finding a child for a family, but a family for a child,” Cori says. “We love the children in the program and celebrate the success of finding homes for them.”
For more information about Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program, click here.