DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A national nonprofit organization on a mission to get those in foster care into safe and permanent homes is celebrating a major milestone in Ohio.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is celebrating its role in helping 1,500 children get adopted out of foster care in Ohio.

Fourteen-year-old Samantha McGregor is one of those children. Samantha was in the foster care system for more than 12 years before meeting her adoptive parents.

“Samantha has fit right in from the very get go,” Samantha’s adoptive mother, Aaryn McGregor, said. “My kids warmed right up to her and they love her.”

Samantha was born without critical organs and was one of the first children to go through a triple organ transplant.

“It was important that she be connected with the right family who could care for all of her needs,” Aaryn McGregor said.

For kids like Samantha, who either have complex medical needs or are aging out of foster care, it can be a challenge to find a forever family. The leader of the non-profit talked about why it is so important that the group works to support children like Samantha.

“Those children, when they age out of care, not because they are bad kids, but because they don’t have the safety net of a family are at a much higher risk of profound community issues, like homelessness, unemployment, being undereducated, moving back into other systems,” Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, said.

That’s where the foundation’s Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiters come in. The recruiters use social work to connect children to prospective adoptive parents, whether that’s another relative, caregiver or someone who has worked with the child in the past.

“These are the children that sometimes others had given up on or thought were just too difficult to find a family for,” Soronen said.

Soronen says her organization is not alone in its mission. Governor Mike DeWine recently increased the state’s investment in the Dave Thomas Foundation, which works alongside the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).

“It’s a significant co-investment relationship with the counties that the governor has been so generous in providing to the foundation,” Soronen said.

With thousands of kids in Ohio still waiting for a permanent place to call home, McGregor hopes Samantha’s story will cause more families to open their hearts to adoption.

“I have always that they are just more of a blessing to us than we could ever be to them,” McGregor said.

Click here to learn more about the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.