This is the time a year when we typically pause, take a breath, step back and take stock of what we’ve accomplished over the course of the year. Did we do what we set out to do? Did we reach birthparents we haven’t connected with in the past? Were we able to change lives for the better? Did we grow as an organization?
As I look back on this year, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Things didn’t go according to plan.” In fact, what continues to run through my head is the famous stanza from Robert Burn’s poem, To a Mouse:
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
Which brings some comfort as we could not have foreseen what 2020 would ask of us. But we came together as an organization, and we rose. We quickly recognized that rolling out our retreats on a national scale, as planned, would need to wait. That in-person services would need to transition to virtual, that planned fundraisers would need to be canceled. But that did not mean we would sit back and bide our time, waiting for the dust to clear, because that is not who we are! Instead, we took a page out of our virtual retreat, Survivor to Thriver, and we made the commitment to thrive!
- We quickly instituted a new program with our BirthmomsConnect support calls, offering them three times each week from March to July. In July, we transitioned the calls to three times per month with themes and materials, hosting 60 calls and nearly 100 women. This program, which reached women from Alaska to Texas, Canada to Qatar, will continue in 2021.
- We partnered with Knee-to-Knee support groups and Shared Beginnings to host a Birthmother’s Day celebration over Zoom, mailing 250 custom-made bracelets to every birthmom who requested one.
- We hosted two virtual community art days with licensed art therapist, Kristi Gmutza, reaching nearly 50 triad members.
- We launched the speaker series, Activism in Adoption, serving nearly 100 triad members and adoption professionals and are poised to reach many more with this innovative program bringing all members of the triad to the table for open and honest conversations on challenging topics. Speakers in 2021 will include Hope Baker, Isaac Etter, Nam Holtz, Kevin Hofmann, Billy Kaplan and other notable names in the field of adoption.
- We adapted our weekend retreats to a virtual format, enabling women to connect with us who would not normally be able to travel for a retreat. This format was so well-received that we will offer a minimum of 3 virtual retreats in 2021 and plan to continue to offer a virtual retreat as part of our standard retreat programming.
- Our case management services expanded to Wisconsin and beyond! With 3 case managers on staff, we are handling requests for support from more than 200 birthparents, including a number of birthfathers, who have recently reached out seeking support.
- While providing access to adoption-competent therapy through our counseling grants continues to be a cornerstone of our services, we also launched our Emergency Assistance Fund, enabling us to provide responsive grants for rent assistance and job support.
- And we grew our staff. During a time when so many experienced losses of jobs and income, I am grateful to be able to say that we provided jobs this year while also offering our staff the flexibility they needed in order to be present for their families.
While we took advantage of the PPP and SBA/EIDL funds, our success this year is thanks to the continued support of our donors. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for your generosity. As a small, yet mighty, organization, every dollar counts – and all of it comes from donors like you. Over the course of the past 20 years, while adoption has changed significantly, birthparents still find themselves left out of the conversation and lacking services at times when they are vulnerable and struggling with the trauma of placement. On Your Feet has worked hard over the years to shine a light on their stories and their important place in the adoption triad. You have made that possible.
To quote Activism in Adoption speaker and birthmom, Cathy Crossno, "I love that there's a resource like On Your Feet Foundation. It's amazing seeing how far adoption has come because we didn't have support back then. With On Your Feet, we have a place where birthparents can find comfort and hope during a time when they can otherwise feel terrified and alone.”
In order to continue this important work, we need your help to meet the increased demands on our services. In honor of 20 incredible years of serving the adoption community, please make your gift today to enable us to continue to grow and thrive, providing support to birthparents, improving outcomes, and strengthening the triad.
From our families to yours, we wish you a holiday season full of joy and a happy, healthy New Year.