Area nonprofit works to support adoption and foster children, spread love

Foster children often don’t stand out in our day-to-day lives, but they’re there.

“These kids are in the community,” says Julie Overbye Ledy, founder of the nonprofit Adoption is Love. “They’re working at Caribou and they’re sitting next to us at church.”

Indeed, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, in 2016 there were nearly 15,000 children in the state who experienced foster or group home care, some 9,400 on any given day.

Overbye Ledy started the nonprofit, which runs out of her Roseville home, last year in an effort to “give back to the adoption community and raise awareness in Minnesota.” From that mission came support for the foster community, too.

A mother of four children ages 18 to 29, Overbye Ledy’s two youngest daughters were adopted from Guatemala. 

Knowing how long, arduous and expensive the adoption process can be — she says it can cost upwards of $30,000 — Overbye Ledy said she set out to give adopting parents in Minnesota a bit of help. 

Adoption is Love, so far, has given out two $1,500 adoption grants, with plans to give out the grants twice annually. Overbye Ledy says the grant is paid directly to the adoption agency a family is using so the money saved can be used to defray other costs. 

She says a Minneapolis family who recently received the grant — they’re adopting siblings — used the savings to buy a larger family vehicle.

As for foster children, who in some cases are also eligible for adoption, Overbye Ledy says she came up with the idea of granting them “wishes” — tickets to a concert, fees paid for a dance class — in January of this year. Donors to the nonprofit can fund specific wishes.

“I was going to do 50 a year but the requests have come in,” she says, pointing out that just months into the year, she’s far exceeded that 50-wish goal.

 

The emotional side

A real estate agent for some 30 years, beyond the nonprofit, Overbye Ledy also just started an adoption consultancy.

“I didn’t have that when I adopted,” she says, noting that she went through an adoption agency in Oklahoma. “It was all very different.”

She says recent work with a client couple involved processing all the feelings that can come with adding someone to the family.

“We really talked about the emotional side of it all and I wish I had someone to process all the emotion of going through an adoption,” Overbye Ledy says.

 

Inspiration and

 thank yous

As for the wishes for foster children, she says they come from an urge to brighten the young people’s lives in small ways. For instance, Overbye Ledy says, Adoption is Love recently paid for a girl to take hip hop dance classes.

“I called the studio that afternoon and said, ‘Please let her start the classes and I’ll send a check,’” she says. “It’s the fun things like that that a lot of us can provide for our children, but sometimes when they’re in a foster home or shelter, they just don’t get those opportunities.”

The nonprofit has trips to Valley Fair in the works for foster children and parents, and plans to send 200 kids to a St. Paul Saints game in June — it’s looking for $20 donations in order to do so.

An earlier story about Adoption is Love in the Star Tribune created such an outpouring of interest — Overbye Ledy says 150 people, and counting, have contacted her — that the nonprofit is looking at other ways to get people involved, beyond financial support.

Overbye Ledy says she’s planning events where people can write inspirational cards for foster children or thank you notes for foster parents, setting the events up through schools, churches, book clubs and elsewhere. Well-wishers can also send cards to her that she’ll pass on. She says she also hopes to raise some cash in order to include gift cards for the children that would cover a meal at Chipotle or McDonald’s.

The cards and notes are a free way for people to be involved she says, “that doesn’t take money — it takes 10 minutes to write a card.”

The first such event, falling in National Foster Care Month, is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Autumn Grove Park building, 1395 Lydia Ave. in Roseville. Overbye Ledy says everything attendees will need to make a card will be provided.

“Our philosophy is that a small gift is an act of love that changes people’s hearts,” Overbye Ledy says. “These kids are the people who want to go out and change the world.”

 

For more information about Adoption is Love, go to www.adoptionislovefund.org


 

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813

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