Founder’s Message

Message from Our Founder


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 mother, 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 available for adoption.  I’ve spent intimate time with these very adoptable children who do not have families and I’ve wondered why.  The fact that the United States has over 100,000 children in the foster care system who are awaiting adoption is simply unacceptable. Finally, as the recipient of a congressional award for my work in foster care, I have a responsibility and a passion toward this project.

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.  We also use our funds to better care for the older children who will never have the opportunity to be adopted.  Through our Mentorship Program, we provide long term relationships for these children with trained Mentors with the aim of supporting their educational goals and life goals while teaching them important life skills. In short, if we can’t give them parents, we can at least give them an education.

Through our research, we’ve learned the answer to why these very adoptable children have not been adopted. 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 photography and story exhibit of children awaiting adoption.  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 late 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 available for adoption, but according to a study by the University of Chicago, Illinois ranks 3rd in the United States 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 cost to the children is unimaginable.

Our work has been applauded by social workers and adoption recruiters, and we are learning that even modest resources can have a huge impact.  We are recruiting foster and adoptive parents through our Adoption and Foster Care Information Fairs through which we have recruited hundreds of parents and families into the foster care and adoption from foster care process while introducing thousands to the issues.  Think of this as “Adoption from Foster Care #101” with the best teachers (selected social workers and adoption recruiters) at the front of the classroom.  Our Finding Forever Families Events are open to the public and the media. We  remind you that adoption from foster care is free and does not discriminate against age, income, marital status, gender or sexual orientation.  Find out about our series of Adoption and Foster Care Information Fairs

Let It Be Us has changed lives with our Mentorship Program through which we guide children in foster care through educational and personal goals teaching them invaluable life skills.  We commit countless hours of one-on-one instruction, provide computers and address any issue that impedes successfully completing their educational goals.  These children often need IEP advocacy and adjustments, new glasses, calculators, school supplies, and a lot of our time.  We arm these children so they can compete on a level playing field with students who have parents and families.

We are the first nonprofit of our kind in Illinois and the Heart Gallery of Illinois – a photography and story exhibit of Illinois children awaiting adoption from foster care – is brought to you on our website through a partnership with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  The Heart Gallery of Illinois is a tool  is used to recruit adoptive parents for the children who have waited the longest.  The success of this type of parent recruitment is astounding. 

If a child is placed in a “Heart Gallery,” he or she has a significant chance of being adopted.

We further provide a team of newly volunteered and dedicated professional photographers and videographers who have rallied across the State of Illinois for this mission.  

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 meet with you any time 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