There is a statistic that we have shared quite a few times this year, which I will share again, because I think it’s important:
Only 30% of non-profit organizations are in operation long enough to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
In 2001, when our founders started On Your Feet Foundation with a $10,000 grant from Walgreens, I am not sure how far their vision extended, or how much of an impact they hoped to make, but I can say with absolute certainty that they have changed innumerable lives.
From humble beginnings — one case manager in Illinois, a little money for books for a college course, a bus pass to get to work, and helping fund some birthmom retreats — to what we are today…
…serving nearly 1,000 birthparents across the US and Canada, with a staff of 8, plus an additional 6 birthmom retreat facilitators. An organization that is flexible and responsive and adaptive. A team that is incredibly dedicated to our mission, who go above and beyond every single day, and for whom I am enormously grateful. A team who has spent the past two years navigating the demands of their jobs with the needs of their families, who have found ways to expand our services, reaching birthparents across the country who have never had this kind of support or community.
This year, as we celebrated 20 years…
- We continued to build on our virtual birthmom retreats as we recognized that they fill an important need
- We expanded our BirthmomsConnect support calls from 3 calls each month to 7
- We launched our Birthmom-to-Birthmom Mentor Program
- We awarded 2 Create! Arts Grants, helping 2 birthmoms towards their goals of publishing a book
- We built upon our Activism in Adoption education series which was launched in 2020
- We developed our Birthparent Support Alliance Program so that adoption agencies and attorneys across the country can ensure that their birthparents have access to post-placement care when they need it
- We delivered more than 3,000 hours of case management services to our clients
Would you believe it if I told you that we do all of this with an annual operating budget of just ~$150k?
(Just think what we could do with more!)
So it is with ever so much gratitude and appreciation that I extend my thanks to you. No matter your relationship to adoption or how much you have given to On Your Feet, we are here today because of you. Like the birthparents we serve, as the only independent, non-profit organization in the country dedicated to providing comprehensive post-placement care to birthparents, we know what it is like to feel invisible. The recent and ongoing hearings in front of the Supreme Court have highlighted the incredible dearth of understanding of adoption and, specifically, the birthparent experience, causing further trauma - making birthparents feel unseen, not just by a clueless friend, but by the highest court in the land.
Which means that we must continue to:
- Constantly educate those who choose not to see the trauma that exists in adoption
- Have countless conversations with individuals who don’t understand the need for post-placement care - who think that birthparents can just drop their unwanted child at a fire station like we drop old clothing at Goodwill
- Teach others to recognize how much birthparents love their children and the extraordinary amount of love and strength and courage it takes to make a plan to place their child for adoption – and then live with that decision for the rest of their lives
- Endlessly explain why the work we do is important
But you see us.
Because you see us we move into our 3rd decade of service.
Because you see us, we will:
- Offer 6 birthmom retreats in 2022
- Launch our 2nd Birthmom-to-Birthmom Mentor Cohort
- Expand our Activism in Adoption education programming
- Increase the number of case management hours delivered, and;
- We will continue to be a voice for birthparents.
From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all of the lives you have touched this year - thank you. Thank you for seeing the importance of On Your Feet Foundation, the work we do, and the incredible humans we serve.
We see you.