As we conclude this season of celebration for our 20th anniversary, it is with a full heart that we share updates and insights from On Your Feet Foundation. Our staff took the past year to reflect and plan with invigorated intention to best serve our community, to hear its needs, evaluate impact, and share its unique perspective with the adoption community. We forged new relationships with triad members to collaborate and lift their voices, connected with adoption professionals who commit to this mission, and reached birthparents in larger numbers giving them the community and support they need.
Welcoming these new community members has been a highlight of 2021. Our virtual support groups find new and returning voices each and every week. We gathered in person for our fall retreat sharing treasured traditions once again. In these challenging times, we all learned things that bring us comfort. For us, that meant forming and reaffirming connections, leaning into our mission, and finding joy and healing in the arts. The value of creativity and self-expression led us to host a meaningful Birthmother’s Day celebration themed by poetry, we collaborated and published a beautiful birthparent journal, hosted our first spoken word open mic event, launched an arts grant program which awarded two birthmothers (Candace and Carissa) with funds needed to meet their artistic goals, and as always incorporated both visual art and creative writing into our retreats. Including the arts into programming has been a wonderful addition. Case Manager Julia Stolle reports that helping clients heal through a variety of paths has expanded our reach more than ever, “Art is uniquely healing because it allows for the exploration and expression of the thoughts and emotions that are difficult to voice in a conversation or traditional talk therapy. The creation of art as a part of the healing process also promotes grounding and mindfulness while reducing anxiety.”
A few of our accomplishments this year include:
- New initiatives, such as the publishing of a journal uniquely for birthparents, launching the Birthmom to Birthmom Mentor Program, our Holiday Assistance Fund, and the Create! Arts Grant
- Hosting 9 sessions of Activism in Adoption, bringing all members of the triad to the table for open and honest conversations on challenging topics
- 38 birthmoms attending our virtual and in-person retreats, most of whom have never attended retreats before
- Case management services reaching nearly 170 birthparents
- BirthmomsConnect Zoom sessions that allow birthparent participation without any geographical limitations reaching over 220 women
- Special events such as our Open Mic Night, holiday gatherings, and our Birthmother’s Day event reaching over 200 triad members, and included mailing gifts to 120 birthmothers on Birthmother’s Day
- More than 300 birthparents connecting through closed Facebook groups, including our birthfathers support group
This year we also awarded 16 grants for counseling and retreats, ensuring ability to pay was not an obstacle to services, and welcomed 176 new birthparents to our community, seeking services for the first time.
As we turn the page on the calendar, On Your Feet Foundation begins its third decade of service with an exciting array of events and services planned. We are poised to do great work to benefit the entire adoption community. Please help us continue to grow and thrive with a donation today. We will use these funds towards vital services impacting birthparents when they seek help--your gift ensures that we can meet their needs.
With our deepest gratitude and warm wishes for a holiday season full of peace and joy,
Jennifer Tully Diehl