Founder’s Message

Message from Our Founder

Susan-McConnelll-new

Let it Be Us has designed and built the strong and innovative bridge between these waiting children and adoptive parents.  Our work has been applauded by social workers and adoption recruiters. 

As an adoptive parent, I founded Let it Be Us because I know how important it is that every child lives in, and is loved by, a family.  I have worked with the State of Illinois for over a decade with the goal of finding families for children in the foster care system who are awaiting  adoption.  The fact that the United States has over 100,000 children in the foster care system who are awaiting adoption is simply unacceptable, as is the fact that Illinois ranks last in the nation at achieving adoption for her waiting children. Finally, as the recipient of a congressional award for my work in foster care, I have a responsibility and a passion toward the Let It Be Us mission. 

Let it Be Us is a 501(c)(3) child welfare organization dedicated to the adoption and education of children in Illinois foster care. Funds raised go toward programs and projects that maximize the prospects of successful adoptions for these children.  I am especially proud of designing our Targeted Recruitment Program with my team, which may be the first program in the country to use subscription based social media as well as a large and growing registry to locate parents for waiting children.  I’m also proud of our series of Adoption and Foster Care Information Fairs which are town hall style events recruiting hundreds of individuals annually who are interested in becoming foster and adoptive parents. 

Through our research, we’ve learned the answer to why these very adoptable children are still waiting. People simply do not know about them.  We’ve learned that a bridge needs to be built.  A very strong and innovative bridge to connect these children with potential adoptive families.  To that end, Let It Be Us curates and manages the Heart Gallery of Illinois – a parent recruitment tool that is a photography and story exhibit of children awaiting adoption, in a partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Service’s Adoption Listing Service.  This digital gallery is visited every day by people hoping to adopt. Our goal is to bring as many eyes as possible to the Heart Gallery of Illinois on our website, raising awareness and finding parents for these beautiful waiting children. 

Together with a Board of Directors consisting of incredibly talented experts in adoption, foster care, education, marketing, public relations, media, social media, and fundraising, we have formed Let it Be Us and our work was launched in Illinois in March of  2014.  Our Board is heavily weighted with foster parents and adoptive parents who know the system firsthand.  Illinois is the perfect place to start.  Not only is Illinois home to so many children in the foster care system who are awaiting adoption, but according to a study by the University of Chicago, Illinois ranks last in the nation for the number of children who age out of the foster care system without ever finding an adoptive family. Let it Be Us has designed and built – and is constantly strengthening – the important bridge between these waiting children and adoptive parents.

We have built that bridge through our programming, and the statistics prove that our work is needed.  If children are not adopted and age out of the foster care system, they not only go out in to the world alone, but what happens to them next is a spectacular failure. These statistics have, again, been calculated by the University of Chicago:  

  • 97% will never attend college.  
  • Only 50% will finish high school. (Only 37% will finish high school in Illinois.)
  • 45% of the girls will be pregnant by age 19.  
  • The percentage of boys who end up in the prison system is extreme and incalculable.  (We suspect it is well over 50%.)

The financial cost to the state is significant and the social cost to our communities is high, but the emotional and life-long cost to the children is unimaginable.

If a child is included in a “Heart Gallery,” he or she has a significantly increased chance of being adopted.

 

We meet regularly with Illinois State Senators and Representatives through our Let it Be Our Voice Program” to inform them of current needs within the Illinois foster care system.  In addition to personal meetings, we stay connected with them through email and social media and Let it Be Us acts as a resource for them during this time of unprecedented change in Illinois. 

Since our inception, our accomplishments have opened doors showing us more need than we imagined.  We seek corporate and foundation sponsorship during this opportune time in Illinois as the State stands ready to solve problems and identifies this as one of its most important. I am available to speak to groups or to meet with stakeholders, donors or grantors to discuss the mission of Let it Be Us.

Thank you for your interest in Let It Be Us. Our work will not only help these waiting children, it will benefit the generations that follow.

Susan McConnell
Founder and Executive Director