Dave was grateful for the opportunity to receive love, support and stability from his adoptive family, so for much of his life, he traveled throughout North America to make a difference and bring hope to thousands of children in foster care. In 1990, Dave accepted President George Bush’s invitation to be the spokesperson for the White House Initiative on Adoption, Adoptions Works… for Everyone. With his background as an adoptee and his stature in the business community, Dave accepted the challenge of raising awareness for the cause. He also wanted to reduce the “red tape” and cost that discouraged many families from adopting.
Dave knew he could do more, so in 1992 he established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® (DTFA). The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated exclusively to finding permanent homes for the more than 150,000 children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Created by Wendy’s® founder Dave Thomas who was adopted, the Foundation implements evidence-based, results-driven national service programs, foster care adoption awareness campaigns and innovative grantmaking. Through the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, the Foundation provides funding and establishes innovative co-investment partnerships with states to support the hiring of recruiters who implement an evidence-based, child-focused recruitment model. This model has been proven to be up to three times more effective at finding adoptive homes for children who have been lingering in foster care the longest. “If we can get one child adopted into a loving family, all our work will be worth it,” Dave would say.
In 1997, Dave testified before Congress on the need for adoption tax credits to make adoption more affordable. In 1996, President Clinton signed a tax credit bill into law giving adoptive parents a tax credit of $5,000 when they adopt. At the public signing, the President personally thanked Dave and acknowledged the impact he'd made on adoption across the country.
Three years later, Dave and the DTFA partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to create and promote the Adoption Stamp. It was unveiled in October 1999 at Rockefeller Center in New York and was available in May 2000. The colorful, 33¢ stamp has four themes: "Adopting a Child, Shaping a Life, Building a Home, Creating a World."
For more than 25 years, the DTFA has continued to serve children in foster care with a mission of dramatically increasing the number of adoptions of children waiting in North America’s foster care systems. Because of Dave’s consistent efforts and the support of everyone around him, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption has found forever families for more than 10,000 children in foster care.