It has been said, “Family means, no one gets left behind or forgotten.” One of our goals in foster care is to ensure no child is forgotten, by finding adoptive families. Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK), a program at Spaulding for Children funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, supports that goal. The mission of the WWK is to find adoptive families for the children who have been lingering in the child welfare system for many years. In order to find these families, WWK Recruiters are given smaller caseloads and the opportunity to truly get to know the children. The concept is simple: If the recruiter is able to truly bond with the child, they will be able to find the perfect family for each child based on their specific needs.

The story of Stephan entails a long journey in the foster care, which has led to happiness and most importantly, family.

In 2002, at the age of seven, Stephan became available for adoption; and in 2006, a part of the WWK program. Details of Stephan’s journey included living in more than 10 different foster homes and residential facilities, being separated from his four younger sisters, and experiencing several disrupted adoptions, as well as a multitude of other losses.

Stephan was determined; he never gave up on the idea of having a family. Stephan was willing to participate in recruitment events; fortunately, it was just that, which led him to his forever family.

In 2012, Spaulding for Children began a mandatory training for all prospective foster and adoptive families, led by two experienced foster and adoptive parents. A segment of the training included a panel of youth from the WWK program, who spoke on their experiences in foster care as well as what they desired from foster and/or adoptive families. Stephan was on the WWK youth panel, each time he attended the training, he interacted with one of the foster parents who led the training and eventually bonded with her.

In May 2012, the foster parent expressed an interest in adopting Stephan, it was decided that it was not the best time; she was in the process of adopting four other children. It was also decided that reconsideration would be given after the other adoptions were finalized.

During that waiting period, Stephan was matched with another family, however, the match disrupted in January 2013; 6-months before Stephan’s 18th birthday. The WWK Recruiter contacted the initial foster parent about adopting Stephan, she was elated! The WWK Recruiter began facilitating visits; after the first visit, Stephan asked the foster parent if he could move into her home and if she would adopt him. In February 2013, Stephan moved into the foster parent’s home as a foster care placement. Five months later, only one day before his 18th birthday, Stephan’s adoption was finalized.

Stephan loves being a part of his new family and finally feels as though he belongs. He has made great progress since he has joined his forever family.

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If you’ve had a rewarding experience fostering or adopting a child, Spaulding for Children would love you to share it with us.  We may use your story on our website so others can learn from it and be inspired by it. Click here to submit your story or email it directly to


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