“What Is the Best Question to Ask a Child?”

Read one WACAP staff member’s story of what it means to ask herself this question every day … and what it means to a child waiting for a family to hear the answer.

WACAP Family for Me Coordinator Photo

WACAP’s “A Family For Me” Coordinator Denise Russell

As WACAP’s “A Family for Me” program coordinator, it’s a joy to spend time with the kids we feature on KING5 News (Seattle’s NBC Affiliate) as well as connect with viewers who are compelled to contact us because they’ve seen a child they found to be unforgettable. Meeting children who are waiting for a family, interviewing them, and then speaking with people wanting to offer their hearts to these kids is an amazing little journey.

At WACAP, it all starts with finding an activity we know each child will enjoy. Then we film them having a great time but also sit down to talk with them. During our brief interview, the challenging part can be asking the kids to talk more about themselves and what they want in a family. Though they’ve agreed to share with us, some kids get slightly embarrassed, some just say, “I don’t know,”… and then some have a huge amount to say.

One young man appeared so soft-spoken, I just geared up for the sound of crickets. But once he started talking, there was no stopping him. And when I asked him, “What makes you really happy?” he went into great detail about snow and how it reminded him of old memories and family. His words and sincerity were so touching that our activity guide needed to walk away and take a deep breath. It’s hard not to react and respond back, but I try to stay quiet and let the kids say everything they want to say (even if their answers are just reflected in an expression). And in realizing that, interviewing has become one of my favorite parts of the experience. Our efforts to find common ground — and help the kids feel comfortable — allow them to express who they really are and their dreams for the future.

The tenacity of these kids is extraordinary. Although in some cases, they may have grown up in a difficult environment or had a traumatic past, when you meet them, you see that they each have so much hope and so much character! Some pour themselves into a passion, like music. Some dive into a new experience like it’s a bowl of ice cream. Some take on the world quietly, cautiously and thoughtfully.

I’ve discovered that they all seem to love animals. Some like them big and some like them small, but it all seems to be about unconditional love. They all want someone dependable in their lives, who will spend time to really know get to know them, protect them, and weather the inevitable ups and downs.

So what is the best question to ask a child? I think it might be, “What do you want me to know about you?” In our “A Family for Me” videos, which you can find posted each week on WACAP’s website and on KING 5, you will see kids who are gregarious, quirky, focused, anxious, thoughtful, charming, rascally, serious, creative and loving. You will see yourself in some of them and be astonished at the bravery of some of the others. They represent over 9,000 children in Washington state foster care who are ready and able to be adopted — all kids wanting a warm home and a loving parent or parents, all children WACAP believes deserve the family of their dreams.

WACAP A Family For Me LogoNationwide, only about 50 percent of all children waiting in U.S. foster care to be adopted find permanent families. Since 2005, nearly 80 percent of the kids we’ve featured through WACAP’s “A Family For Me” have been adopted. Even after KING 5 airs “A Family For Me” each week, each child’s video segment continues to be invaluable for state case workers, who get to introduce families to these children using a story that showcases their unique personalities. Special thanks to our partners Yuen Lui Portrait Studios and KING5 Television for joining us in giving children in need a family.

If you’d like to learn more about adopting a child from state foster care, click here. If you’d like to help us support “A Family for Me” through a monetary or in-kind donation, let us know. Additional support allows us to reach more kids.

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Why 2,000 Photos?

WACAP president sits with many children in orphanage

WACAP President and CEO Lillian Thogersen meets the kids in one Chinese orphanage

Just a few weeks ago, WACAP staff returned from a trip to China, where we had the opportunity to renew or establish new partnerships with four Chinese orphanages. We’re excited to be working with each one to help find families for the children in their care.

Following this trip:
     –You might have seen on our website or heard on our Facebook page that we met over two hundred children who need families.
    –You may have read that the three staff who traveled returned with over 2,000 photos of nearly 100 kids, along with hours and hours of video to share with families.
    –You might have wondered, “Why 2,000 photos?

At each orphanage we visit, before our camera goes “click” and “click” again, WACAP staff gets to meet with the children.

That means WACAP CEO Lillian Thogersen gets to hold a little girl’s hand; she learns this child’s just turned five and has been in the orphanage that whole time. Yu Ping Kuang and Bixin Huang of WACAP’s China team sit down to listen to a 12-year-old boy talk excitedly about why he loves to play soccer. This bright young man looks right into their eyes. (Unless he’s adopted within two years, he won’t get the chance to be … because of his country’s adoption age requirements.)

Slideshow of kids we met

Slideshow of some kids we met

The first picture our staff takes of each child is the most important one; it’s noiseless and not captured by any camera. It’s taken through a lens that says, “I recognize what an extraordinary person you are. And I will show a family — the family who’s right for you — what I see.”

Without any camera in operation, this image has already been collected and indelibly preserved. And only afterward, does our staff lift up the camera, press on the power and bring the frame into focus.

We take 2,000 pictures so we have a way to convey what we already know — that there is another child who is waiting for a family to look through our lens.

(In the slideshow on WACAP’s China adoption webpage, you can meet some of the children we held, met and talked with on our recent trip — children waiting for the family that we can’t wait to show their pictures to. If you’re interested in learning more about when these children’s information will be available from their orphanages, contact us at ckids@wacap.org.)

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Where I’m From


Lola was adopted from China through WACAP at 16 months. Today she’s a busy and talented 11 year old who, between piano lessons, language classes and dance performances, finds time to show off her cooking skills and prepare meals for her family and friends. Lola wowed us with her ballet performance at the 2013 Children’s Hope Auction, and recently impressed us again with this original poem. Thank you to Lola and her family for sharing!

Where I’m From

By Lola

I am from the black and white ivory keys,
Listening to the sweet melody while my fingers are dancing across the keys
Waiting for my ears to hear DING,
The signal that I’m done

I am from leaping and jumping across the floor,
Going from one corner to the next
Holding strong until the end of class,
Curtseying to the piano teacher

I am from the kitchen,
Searching through all of the pots and pans looking for the right pan to do the job
Sticking my head in every cabinet and drawer looking for just the right ingredients
Turning on the front burner and putting everything in the pan

I am from learning totally new words,
All the way from Ni hao to Zai jian
Learning new words each class,
Practicing with my teacher every class I have

I am from having fun all the time,
Whether it is spending time with family, friends, or playing with the cat
Always deciding what to do late that day with family
Chasing the cat around the house losing my breath

I am from my life
And that’s what makes me unique

Lola dances at the 2013 Children's Hope Auction

Lola dances at the 2013 Children’s Hope Auction

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On the Red Carpet With Shruthi

Shruthi and her service dog standing

Shruthi and her service dog and pal, Stover

“She scared us to death with the basement steps!” say Cathy and Robert Reed, parents of 8-year-old Shruthi, who was adopted from India through WACAP at age 4. 

But that they can say these words at all points to something extraordinary.   

That’s because this little girl, not even 20 pounds when she came home, was born with a number of special needs, including limb differences, a cleft palate, vision challenges, and club feet, many related to a rare medical condition called Larsen syndrome.
(Read more here

WACAP’s Family Finders staff searched for years to find the right family for Shruthi, whose medical needs most families felt foreshadowed what Shruthi’s future would hold, not how many steps she’d take.

Shruthi and service dog Stover painting

A pair of painters

Today, after four years with a family’s love, an increasingly tenacious 8-year-old whose legs once could not hold her upright, believed she could walk the basement steps on her own. Since just one year ago, Shruthi has been able to get herself in and out of her wheelchair, has recovered from major surgery on both legs and feet three months ahead of time, walked with her forearm crutches, and put on her first “real pair of shoes.”

Down the Red Carpet

Down the Red Carpet

From taking small steps without holding onto anything, she’s since climbed those basement stairs. And, after being nominated for the Night of Superstars and Ragan’s Hope last month, this dazzling little girl found herself on the red carpet.   

Below, Cathy shares more about the miracle of each step, of the past year, and of the little girl the whole family knows is their superstar.   

This past year has been remarkable! 

As of today of this month, Shruthi has been with our family for longer than she was in the orphanage. A full four years without a family. At 8 she amazes us! The sparkle in her eyes continues to shine and there isn’t a braver child than Shruthi!  Shruthi has started walking without crutches, walker or holding onto anything! All since her last surgery in July.

Shruthi and service dog in princess and baseball player costume

Shruthi and Stover Team in costume

Service-dog Stover and Shruthi are a real team and, of course, are into everything. Stover opens the refrigerator for Shruthi and, of course, he gets a carrot for his effort; he picks things up for her, plays with her, opens doors for her, helps her take her clothes off and helps her eat. Actually she has to take a bite, chew and swallow it in order to give Stover a treat. If Shruthi doesn’t eat fast enough Stover will nudge her reminding her he is waiting for his treat.

Stover gives Shruthi the confidence she was lacking and makes her feel safe. It is nothing short of a miracle watching her as she improves almost daily.  

Make Over for the Event

Makeover for the Big Night

Shruthi recently was nominated for Night of Superstars and chosen. Night of Superstars and Ragan’s Hope honors 20 local children with challenges who achieve beyond their abilities in academics, community service and other areas.

On February 15, Shruthi walked the red carpet for this special event. She even got to ride in a Limo, have her hair and makeup done and has already met recording artist Jason Ashley. (She calls Jason “my cowboy.”) 

Young girl smiles and signing an autograph

Smiling and signing an autograph

Shruthi is definitely our little superstar. She continues to grow both physically and mentally and is almost caught up developmentally. From the nonverbal, 17 pound 4-year-old little girl who came home to her family in March 2010 has emerged a beautiful young lady who just turned 8 and is in regular first grade.

She is always smiling, always trying, always kind and caring, and rarely complains. She has under gone 10 surgeries since coming home to straighten her legs and feet and even through all this, she is happy!  Shruthi is a little miracle, and God has allowed us to watch His healing and the power of love of family.

I pray everyday that when prospective adoptive parents are looking at children with special needs, that they are able to look past the challenges of their little bodies and see what they can become.

dad holds his daughter at special event

Proud dad and daughter at Night of Superstars

mom and daughter smile

Two superstars, mom and daughter

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A Happy Hour of Hope

February has been a busy month here at WACAP! We currently have three staff members in China, visiting orphanages that are part of our new partnership project! So far they’ve met many children who need families. We’re looking forward to receiving the information we need to find families for these kids!

We’ve also been lucky enough to be the Charity of the Month at Luther’s Table, a non-profit restaurant just down the street from our Washington headquarters! Luther’s Table is a no-tip establishment, so anything given above meal and beverage costs is considered a donation. For the month of February, Luther’s Table is donating 30% of donations to WACAP!

Luther's Table, set up for Happy Hour of Hope

Luther’s Table, set up for Happy Hour of Hope

Last night Luther’s Table hosted us for our first ever “Happy Hour of Hope.” WACAP families, staff and friends gathered in the evening to socialize and share information about the work WACAP does on behalf of children.


Thank you to Luther’s Table for partnering with us and to everyone who joined us.


It’s great to have such a generous community member as a neighbor! Next time you’re in the Renton area make sure and visit the friendly folks at Luther’s Table!

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Growing Faith and a Family of Eight

Art and Jen Powell, parents of six children — four of whom they adopted from China — recently welcomed home two of their daughters, Mercy (age 14) and Zoey (age 5). Mercy and Zoey, adopted through WACAP, joined their family this past summer.

As the Powells have watched their family grow over the years and grow together each day, they’re bolstered by their love for each other and inspired by the Christian faith uniting them. From medical care to a community of support, “we have watched God meet our needs,” they say.  

Here’s a little of their story of faith and family:   

About Our Family

We have added four kiddos from China to our family in the past four years.

Family of eight wearing matching smiling Elmo t-shirts

Happy to be together, wearing sixteen smiles (Back: Art, Mercy, Allison, Zachary and Jen; Middle: Bethany; Front: Jacob and Zoey)

We did a lot of preparing, planning, reading, researching and anticipating worse case scenarios before each adoption. We didn’t enter into adoption with a plan for adopting children who were certain genders or who had certain special needs. We just knew God was growing our hearts and our family in this way.

As we have parented, we have experienced a variety of special needs, and we’ve welcomed children who were older into our family.  

Dad shows daughter how to ride a bike, both smiling

A fall bike ride

Each child brings his or her own story and unique needs.  We have been overwhelmed by the beauty of adoption and how it has changed us as individuals. We feel, as we’ve adopted, God has helped us become more compassionate, patient, loving, kind, flexible and focused on the things that matter the most in this life. The smallest of moments take on the greatest meaning now.  

Some of the most precious things we have experienced these past few months involve watching our newly adopted 14-year-old daughter give and receive love. We have celebrated learning so many new things from cooking, riding a bike and best of all, learning to be a family! We have watched special friendships grow between new siblings. We have watched special needs fade to the background.  

Initially, we battled some fears with adopting our now 5-year-old daughter who is blind. We don’t know braille and wondered if we could meet all of her needs. We prayed and knew … , and wow, what a non-issue now. This little lady is a wonderful addition to our family. She is so very sweet, bright and capable. There are times we forget she is visually impaired.  

Dad and daughter laugh, holding bananas to their heads like phones

Dad and daughter share a laugh

One of the beautiful surprises that has come from the last few months has been watching all the kids grow in language. Our Mandarin speakers are learning English quickly and our English speakers are gaining more Mandarin. We all have a great love for China and the culture. We have worked hard to make our world a bit smaller in the last few months. One of the ways we grow together as a family is to find ways to work in cooperation at home. We enjoy preparing meals together often experimenting with flavors and spices.

We try to incorporate lots of humor and fun. It helps to laugh at ourselves. Our 14-year-old daughter appreciates Mama trying to make authentic Chinese dishes. We can all laugh together when sometimes it is just too terrible to eat!   

Mom gives two of her daughters a hug

A hug with mom

We are so blessed to be a family. We are so very grateful and blessed by the miracle of adoption. We consider it a privilege to be the parents of six amazing children. We are mindful of all the children still waiting for families and we pray regularly that each of them will know the love of a forever family.  

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Six Months with Oliver

Two-year-old Oliver, who was adopted from China through WACAP, just celebrated the six month anniversary of his homecoming! Oliver’s parents tell us that he is a very outgoing, active and happy child who is obsessed with anything that has four wheels on it.

Oliver, home for six months

Oliver, home for six months

Congratulations, Oliver and family! We know you have many adventures to look forward to!

Oliver with his mom and dad

Oliver with his mom and dad


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Candles, Cupcakes, Trampolines–A Thank You to our Community

Since 2005, WACAP’s award-winning “A Family for Me” program has found families for more than 200 children in U.S. foster care who were waiting for families.

Family for Me

“A Family for Me” provides personalized family recruitment services for children who need families. Through vibrant photo and video portraits, we get to know these kids—who they are and what they hope for in a family. Just like the children featured, each video is unique. Over the past year, we’ve been so touched by the generosity of those who have rallied to support our efforts. We’d like to extend a special thank you to these Puget Sound-area businesses and organizations, who donated space, goods and services to Washington’s foster children in need of families.

City Blocks


Doodlebug Sportz

Elliot Bay Book Company

The Experience Music Project

Flying Pie Pizza

Laser Quest

Mike N Terry’s Outdoor Fun Park

Parkour Visions

PGP Motorsports Park

Point Defiance Zoo

PS Stores


Seattle Bouldering Project

Seattle Children’s Hospital

The Space Needle

Spooner Farms

Swans Candles

Ted Brown Music

The Triple J Ranch

Trampoline Nation

The Washington State Fair

Weston High School

Yummers 2 the 3rd Power Cupcakes

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With the New Year

Nearly 200 children will be ringing in (or waking up to) a new year with their families for the very first time.  

Adopted from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Washington state foster care, these kids are no longer waiting for the certainty, security and love that family brings. 

WACAP is excited to celebrate the first year home for all of the children who have joined their families this year.  

(Read about some of these children and other stories of family in WACAP Today.)


Posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, Celebrations, Domestic Adoption, International Adoption, Welcome Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Uplifting Holiday Tradition

Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle this evening, and enjoy A Home for the Holidays!

This entertaining and inspiring television event celebrates family and features stories of children adopted from foster care. Make some hot cocoa, grab a blanket and box of tissues, and enjoy!


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