The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is celebrating a milestone this year.
The Foundation's program called Wendy's Wonderful Kids has helped 500 foster kids in Kentucky get adopted since they partnered with the state back in 2006.
One of those kids was Zachary Geanue.
In 2016, Zachary was in foster care and met a boy named Coop Ebersohl while out playing in the neighborhood.
The pair became fast friends and a few years later, a recruiter for Wendy's Wonderful Kids reached out to Coop's mother, Tanya Rae. The recruiter asked Rae if she would be interested in adopting Zachary.
Rae was elated.
"This human being needed a place to be safe and be loved," she said in an interview with LEX 18. "Why shouldn't we be the ones to give it to him?"
On June 13, the adoption became official and Zachary and Coop went from friends to brothers.
"It was pretty cool cause he spends the night every night so that's fun," Coop said.
Zachary finally had a place to call his "forever home." Before being adopted, he bounced from one foster home to the next. He said he even stayed with one family for less than a week.
Now, he finally has stability.
"It's pretty nice," Zachary said. "I'm showed lots of respect. They care for me. Lots of love is shown."
Zachary used to be one of the more than 1,500 kids in Kentucky who are "legally free" and waiting to find a forever home, according to Heather Byers with the state's Department of Community Based Services.
"Legally free" means that the child's parents have lost their parental rights.
Recruiters help these kids find permanent homes. Wendy's Wonderful Kids plays a role in this process by finding and training recruiters who work for the State. In 2017, WWK went from five recruiters to 60 during an expansion.
WWK specifically trains recruiters to find adoptive families for teens, sibling groups, and kids with special needs who are waiting to be adopted from foster care.
They use a "child-focused recruitment model." In the model, the kids are asked who they'd want to adopt them. For example, it could be a teacher, a friend's parent, or a mentor.
Rae admits that foster adoption isn't for everyone. It is a big commitment, but for her, it has been more than worth it.
"They need another human being to put their arms around them and say, 'I'm gonna love you, I'm gonna love you,'" Rae said.
If you know a foster child and are interesting in adoption options, download the "adoption guide" on this site.
You can also donate here to the Foundation that runs WWK.