One Mom Shares: “Building a Nest: Older Child Adoption”

WACAP parents Kristi and Alexander adopted their son, 7-year-old son Henry, in February. Here, Kristi shares about the experience of adopting an older child: what’s different, what’s familiar, and what’s amazing as their family of six grows closer.


May  2017 In my mind’s eye, I see a sparrow. She carefully arranges bits of string and twigs in her nest tucked by my window. A gust of wind comes and blows some of the nest away. She doesn’t stop her work. The sparrow continues to gather more building supplies for her home. With each tiny twig or bit of string she is creating a safe and secure nest for her babies. She is focused on her goal.

  Photo Credit: Sara Davis Photography

I am that sparrow. Having adopted him three months ago from China, my son is the baby bird, even though he is seven. My fourth child and my only son. My husband and I also have two biological daughters and one daughter adopted from China when she was 1-year-old.

We met him in a hotel lobby. A chaotic meeting place and first introduction. He arrived with the clothes on his back and a bag of candy to give us as a gift. The first moments with him were frenetic and he was nervous.  

I had prayed for this moment but I could barely catch his eye to say hello. This was my first indication that older child adoption was going to be different than adopting a younger child. The paperwork had all looked the same. The flight to China was just as long. But in this moment chasing my son through a hotel lobby—this was all new.

Our time in China can best be described as a “rescue and recovery” mission, in a sense. We tried desperately with the help of our translator to build bridges with our son and find common ground where we could start to bond. He was very restless and it was very difficult for him to calm. We had been prepared by our agency for the different types of responses children might have to the adoption process. But to see in person how truly difficult and traumatic this is for a little soul. To be immersed in a world so foreign, where every sense is engaged, heightened and pressed on every side must be terribly shocking and difficult. That young person is unsure where they fit in this new reality, and this can result in reactions such as grieving, acting out, shutting down or overstimulation.

Our son responded to this sudden jolt of new reality by staying in a heightened state of overstimulation for the first couple of days. By the third day, we began to see glimpses of him. He was holding his sisters’ hands and joyfully counting in Mandarin and in English. However, he continued to have a great deal of nervous energy and struggled to control his emotions when things did not go his way. By the end of the first week, he was communicating in a very basic way regarding hunger and toilet needs. He was also snuggling and hugging as well.  

As we made the long trip home, I wondered what this new reality would look like as we slipped into the schedule of day-to-day. I scanned his face to try to peer into his soul—desperately wanting to guess his feelings and thoughts as well. He had always lived in the orphanage. His world had been so very small for so long and it had changed in a matter of seconds, the moment he became our son. His home, food, toys, friends and caregivers instantly changed. When asked, he confidently and happily exclaimed that “He was going to Meiguo’ (America).” But he had no idea what that truly meant yet.

Our first month home, we immediately attended to medical needs first. Our son had undergone two major surgeries, including open heart surgery, and spent many months of his early life very ill and laying alone in a hospital bed. We visited doctors to ensure that he was healthy and determined next steps for medical care. No matter how necessary, I can only imagine how terrifying this must have been for our son to endure this onslaught of medical care in an unfamiliar setting. We continually reassured him that we would be by his side when he expressed fear and reservations. 

Like a newborn, our son was learning at a rapid pace and demanding much of our attention in the process. The first month home we were exhausted. We laughed and cried. We got it right some days and some days we missed the mark. We were so grateful for the loving support and help of family and friends. They provided much needed respite, brought meals and even helped with laundry.

Having never seen a home, and especially a kitchen, our son was learning new rules of safety. Our other children acted as playmates, teachers and helpmates as he learned how to co-exist in a home. Our three daughters’ love, compassion and patience with their brother has been amazing to witness.

There is evidence of sensory deprivation. For seven years, he lived in a small group of rooms at the orphanage, rarely going outside and not experiencing many hugs or cuddles. As a way to compensate or, overcompensate, for what was lacking in his early years, he constantly seeks out new sensory experiences, whether it be a shiny button to push or a spicy food to try. Also, if you meet him you will likely find yourself wrapped in a big bear hug or the recipient of a happy high-five.

With so many children in an institutionalized setting, caregivers and nannies rarely have time to discuss emotions and feelings with the children in their care. Children who are adopted as older children struggle to correctly match emotions and proper responses to everyday experiences. Our son takes disappointment, and not getting his way, especially hard. To combat this, we read books on different emotions and talk about how we can deal with sadness, fear, anger and frustration. Moreover, we talk through proper ways to behave when we are happy or excited. This, I confess, I had taken for granted in my other children, and I am learning how to help our son to process the range of emotions he is encountering.  

Despite all this hardship as a young child, our son radiates joy and excitement for life. He loves his family and his home. Our son is so proud when he accomplishes new things. He loves reading books, listening to music, riding his bike, attending church and playing with his dog. But his favorite part of any day is playing with his sisters.

He never misses an opportunity to tell someone he loves them. This is a gift he has given to us—our family will never take the gift of love for granted.

We have been together now for three months. The nest we had built for our family had to be completely rebuilt as our family dynamic shifted and changed. Every day, we take steps backward and steps forward. By the time I gather more twigs, the winds have changed. But there is one thing I know, like that sparrow I will keep working and fiercely protect my nest.


We are so grateful to WACAP for helping us wade through the adoption process to bring home two of our children. This process can be arduous and scary, but the staff at WACAP was always there to help us. I would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to take the next step and talk to a WACAP staff person today. There are so many children who need a loving family. We are so glad we said YES!

By Kristi Dews Dale

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On Becoming a Father — On Becoming a Grownup

I’ve been trying to remember the first moment I became a father. My wife and I adopted a sibling group of two when parenthood first landed on us: a 4 year old girl and her 2 year old brother. There was no delivery room for us. Given that ours was a domestic adoption, and it was local, there was no grand travel adventure. It was a process, marked by a clandestine first observational encounter, then multiple pre-placement visits. So when was the exact moment? I don’t really know.

Colorful summer sunset at Tybee Island, Georgia

There are snapshots I recall: sitting in an adjacent booth at a fast food joint while their then-caregivers brought them to play and have a snack. We weren’t to talk or interact, because in the late ‘90s the idea was to observe children live and in person before fully committing, and these siblings weren’t to know it was happening. My strongest memory of the day was of a red-haired little girl wandering around, as four-year-olds are prone to do, stopping in front of our booth and staring at us. What was she thinking? Did she know that we would soon forge a family through trials and false starts and mistakes and celebrations? Did she understand the significance of how her world would soon shift?

I remember our first pre-placement visit, where that same little girl was talking through photos of her recent Halloween costume: a clown. Her brother was in his high chair, a bowl of cereal in front of him. His stare was also fixed, curious about these two strangers. We read to them, played with them and tucked them into their beds in their temporary home each night for a full week. On the last day, we piled them into our car and drove away. Parents? Or strangers still?

I remember thinking, “What now?”

It should have felt more momentous. It should have been more ceremonial. Instead, we found our way to another fast food play land and watched them explore. I don’t remember excitement. I remember an anticlimactic feeling, and a curiosity and disbelief that this was how it actually happened. We just put them in our car and drove away. They were ours now, and we were theirs. What on earth did that mean?

When our biological daughter was born two years later, it all made sense. Of course, we were experienced parents by that point, but the birth met any expectations we had after years of societal conditioning: doctors and nurses, visitors, flowers and balloons. Our older daughter noticed how her hands matched those of her newborn sister. Our son asked if he could “pet her.”

We wouldn’t add to our family for another fifteen years. This time, it was a twenty-three year old adult whom we adopted. There was absolutely no conditioned expectations for this experience. This, to no one’s surprise, was completely new. He had grown up in foster care, “aged out,” then we met. He asked us to adopt him after a three-year relationship. What kind of courage did that take? I wonder about that to this day. For him, though, he tells me that it was no big thing.

It was a huge thing.

It is a huge thing. And it will continue to be so, I suspect.

I have been a parent for twenty years. My children are now ages eighteen, twenty-two, twenty-four and twenty-seven. And I still don’t have a clue. I look back and see more mistakes than successes. This means that I see a history marked by forgiveness and new starts. I see relationships best described as stubborn and committed. My children have stuck with me in spite of all my mistakes and stubbornness.

We’re figuring it out together.

Fatherhood, in my experience, has proven that as much as I would like to make everything better, some things can’t, or shouldn’t be fixed. Fatherhood means that I just need to be there. I need to listen. I need to forgive, and I need to be forgiven. Fatherhood means that I will stay when others leave, as many people in our lives have done. People sometimes bail. Fathers don’t.

And as soon as I type that last sentence, I am guilt-ridden. Just as my three oldest children were beginning to figure out adulthood, the other half of their family moved away. From Texas to Washington, we left them. I once asked my oldest if that act felt like an abandonment. It did.

Ouch.

We keep taking another step forward. We figure out grandparenting and long-distance parenting. We struggle with phone calls vs. texts vs. facetime (and there is an etiquette for this so individualized to the person it will make your head spin.) We declare that it is worth it. Our lives are filled with extra layers of birth family and life before we ever met each other. Time and energy spent figuring out how to be there for each other is always a worthwhile investment.

There is a joy to fatherhood that I’m only recently discovering. It is better than anything so far, and that is the opportunity to see your children finding their way and becoming real life, grownup humans: a mom, a friend, a cook, a photographer, a sign-language speaker, a student, a driver, a nurse. Their signal grows stronger with each passing year, and they are becoming. After hurting with them through struggle, I have been engulfed by waves of pride as they begin to walk out the other side into a life that is meaningful and unique and beautiful.

Fathers, enjoy every minute. Sit with your children through struggles. Listen to them. I wish so desperately to go backward and do this more, which is impossible, so I try to do it now. Invest the time, connect with them, and one day you will have an opportunity to behold a kind of rare beauty in their becoming that will put to shame the longest lingering summer sunset.


WACAP CEO at orphanage in Africa, children gather smilingAbout WACAP’s CEO, Greg Eubanks: Greg joined WACAP as CEO in December 2014. Serving children and families has been the focus and passion of his 20-year career in nonprofit executive leadership and business administration. With an extensive background in international adoption and foster care, Greg is committed to bringing hope to the children living without a family … and helping them home.

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Adoption FAQ: “What if I get pregnant during the adoption process?”

debbie-adoption-info-specialist

Debbie, Adoption Information Specialist

Individuals consider adopting for different reasons, and different factors affect the timing, and even the urgency driving this life-changing decision. Some families have experienced a difficult road of infertility and find adoption a remaining or open path to giving their love to a child. For others, adoption is one of the considered paths to starting or adding to their family.

Not surprisingly, a question that’s asked frequently by those inquiring about adoption has to do with pregnancy. “What happens if I get pregnant during our adoption process?” aspiring parents often ask. Or in follow-up, “Why do I have to put my adoption on hold?”

I feel it’s beneficial to share what happens if a family learns they’re pregnant while in the process of adopting. It’s also important to understand the reasons why it’s best to put the adoption on hold. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Elana Roschy, WACAP’s director of Social Services, who expanded on this topic. Please read on for her response.


sign signifying a bend in the road against a hillside

Families do become pregnant during the adoption process, and WACAP works with each family case by case when it happens to determine how it will affect their adoption.

For instance, a country may have requirements related to the number of children that can be living at home. We make sure families understand those requirements, as well as why WACAP’s policy (requiring at least one year between placements of children, whether by birth or adoption) is intended to support families and their attachment to the children joining their family.

As we engage families in discussion and look at their situations individually, often families are required to place their adoption on hold.

While the process of putting an adoption plan or process on hold can raise questions/concerns on behalf of a family, it is most important for us to help families understand the reasons why we ask this of them.

  • We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child. And we know from our years of experience, that children joining a family through adoption and who come from hard places require mindful attention to their attachment process. We counsel all of our families about the importance of those first few months home and how best to nurture this attachment and security for their new child.
  • We feel that the placement of a child through adoption too soon after the birth of a child can create an environment not always conducive to healthy attachment.
  • We want to allow time for parents, after the birth of their child, to adjust. We know some parents need time to adjust to how their bodies may respond. Some may experience postpartum depression, feel overly protective of their new baby, or ultimately want or need more time to reinforce their bond.
  • This time with a new baby is so important to a baby’s development and to the bonding process, just as we feel the time with a newly adopted child is. It is our responsibility to ensure that each child placed with his or her new family is going to receive the appropriate attention needed to develop that secure attachment needed to succeed.
  • We ask that after a family’s baby is born and a set amount of time has passed, that we reconnect, and talk about how the family is adjusting. In addition, this is an opportune time to discuss their feelings about their adoption plans and ultimately update the homestudy to move forward.

Even when the picture changes and a family’s plans need to go on hold, it’s our privilege to talk with parents about paths that are open along the way, or around the bend.


head shot of WACAP's director of social services, smiling About WACAP’s Director of Social Services, Elana Roschy: Elana enjoys interacting with WACAP families and staff, and helping to ensure that families receive both the initial and ongoing support they need as they adopt. Over the last decade, Elana has worked in WACAP’s adoption programs, and as a social worker for WACAP, she’s worked one-on-one with numerous individuals and couples, helping them through their homestudy process and supporting them after their adoption. As WACAP’s director of social services, she’s delighted to introduce and grow WACAP’s support, education and training services for families.

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Two Adoptees’ Stories: Two Perspectives on Growing Up Adopted

Both impacted by adoption, Katelyn, adopted from Russia, and Jacob, adopted from Colombia, each have unique stories to tell about growing up adopted. Each was profoundly changed by family, and both carry powerful feelings that continue to shape who they are.  

Thank you to WACAP adoptees Katelyn and Jacob for sharing about their journeys, the families who shaped their paths, and what they’d like others to know.  


KATELYN:

Katie-Junior-PictureKatelyn, adopted from Novosibirsk, Russia, today is a junior in high school. A competitive gymnast with a spirited personality, she believes adoption – and having a family’s love and care – has transformed her life. Katie life’s had a difficult start, but that’s one of the reasons she values all the more the opportunities she’s had and the parents who’ve always told her how much they value her. She knows adoption isn’t perfect, and that families aren’t perfect, but that’s also why she tells her own story: to bring others the hope that she has found.


Meet Katie

My name is Katelyn, and my family and friends call me Katie. I am a junior in high school in North Carolina, where I am at the top of my class academically (with a 4.4 GPA). I am also a competitive gymnast and have committed to a full Division I scholarship at a wonderful university in my state. What people don’t know about me is that I was adopted – adopted from Novosibirsk, Russia.

I often wonder, “When people hear that, what do they think of?” Lately I am afraid that too many negative things, worries, and concerns run through people’s minds. I’ve learned that many people, including me, have heard many negative stories about adoption, and not enough success stories.

This is why I am here to share mine.

Against All Odds

When I was born, I was 5 pounds 3 ounces, and my biological mother left me in the state hospital in Novosibirsk. I should have weighed 12 pounds by December. Instead I was only 6 pound, but I was still fighting to live against all odds.

I was transferred to the orphanage with the label “failure to thrive.” Adoption agencies deemed me “unadoptable,” yet I still fought for my life.

The doctor at my orphanage took me from the baby room and used to let me play in her office while she worked. When my parents called the doctor to discuss another child they might have considered for adoption, she told them about me.

Charisma That Inspired

My mother says that my charisma and spirit affected the doctor so much that when my parents spoke to her, all she spoke about was me. Many of my parents’ friends cautioned them not to proceed, but my mom and dad responded together from separate phones, “She is our daughter, when can we come bring her home?” My mom swears it was inspired by God. There was no way to explain it. Although, when my parents me for the first time, I had become very ill. I still kept fighting. When they finally brought me home, they gave my strong antibiotics, and I started to thrive quickly.

Although it seemed grim for me from the start, with the proper love and care, I was to become the young woman I am today, almost getting ready to be on my way to college.

Children Like Me

I believe that it is a shame so much negativity – from stereotypes, or stories we’ve heard – is associated with the very thing that has given me a family, my life, and the blessing that I have today. I share my story in hope to inspire many others, in hope to lift the “burden of negativity” keeping many children that are like me from being adopted and not given the opportunity to thrive as I was.

I hope that my story shows that only the proper love and care can have the ability to give a child a second chance, a second chance for a happy life and a chance to thrive. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and I hope to have either changed what you have believed or have encouraged you to spread the word to others about my story or other success stories you have heard. Thank you for yet another opportunity to share my story and possibly save another child just like myself.

Katie-Parents-Nationals-Competition


JACOB:

Jacob-Soccer-Jersey.pngJacob was born in Cali, Colombia. He was adopted in the mid-80s by parents whom he describes as supportive and exemplary to him and to his sister.

Noting too that he had limited exposure to his country of origin and culture growing up — or to others who looked like him — Jacob considers the experience of growing up adopted and the questions he came to ask about identity and belonging. As he reflects on his experience, he offers his thoughts about what adoptive families need to know from the start, plus words of encouragement and courage to families, especially when the difficult conversations arise.


From an Adult Adoptee: Advice to Adoptive Parents

As an adoptive parent today, there is every reason to learn about and honor your new child’s country of origin. (To say it simply: There is no longer any excuse not to.) We are constantly bombarded with information on a daily basis, and we have answers to even some of the most pressing questions available at the touch of a screen we can pull from our pocket.

Limited Mirrors for People Who Resembled Me

My parents are fantastic people and have been exemplary to my sister and me, but they were at a massive disadvantage when they adopted us in the mid-80’s for the simple fact that information about Colombia and its culture were not that readily available. They are monolingual English speakers, as is the rest of the family, so it was not until high school that I was exposed to Spanish for the first time (and even then, the instruction was mediocre at best). Their house is still geographically isolated from any ethnic diversity, so my only mirror for people that resembled me when I was growing up was a meteorologist on TV named Steve Pool and eventually Ken Griffey, Jr.

This issue of ethnic isolation was what affected me most while growing up. My family, friends, teachers, coaches, people at restaurants, everyone was white and even my sister could “pass” for a white person during the winter months.

Ethnicity and Identity: Dreams and Dialogue

I can still vividly remember a dream I had when I was approximately 13 years old. In the dream I walked to the bathroom on the bottom floor of my parent’s house, turned on the light and the reflection staring back at me was a white face. Shocked and angry, I jumped back and was curious as to how my brown skin had been kidnapped. Twenty years later, I look back on that dream, still happy it was only that—a simple dream. No desire to be white has ever crawled into my mind, even when I endured ignorant and racist comments in my academic and athletic life. I have always been and remain proud of where I come from and where I plan to go.

Influential Conversations

And that is where my parents, especially my mom, have been so influential.

From the time I can remember, my parents have always been very open with us about our past and as we got older, they did not shy away from having the difficult conversations about identity and our biological families. I commend them for respecting us enough to tell us the entire truth as they knew it.

Of course, their own life experiences could not have prepared them to completely answer me when I came home from elementary school asking what the N-word meant, for example. While they were open to hearing questions about race/ethnicity, it has become clear to me they were unprepared to have profound discussions about it or offer any kind of meaningful advice regarding those topics.

I am convinced that had they had more training or even simply a more diverse group of friends and acquaintances, my sister and I would have been more prepared to articulate our own feelings of identity and belonging as we continued to develop.

Sharing, Finding Courage

I have described these experiences to highlight my own advice to those embarking on this tumultuous yet rewarding experience of adopting a child: Out of respect for your new son or daughter, do not be shy. Even if your voice quivers and your palms sweat, have the audacity to look them in the eye and have the courageous conversations that will ultimately lead to enhanced trust between you. You owe it to yourselves and yes; you owe it to them us.

Jacob-Mom

More about Jacob:

Jacob Taylor-Mosquera was born in Cali, Colombia and adopted through WACAP at eight months. He was raised in the Gig Harbor/Tacoma area where he attended high school and played soccer. He studied international relations and Spanish at Pacific Lutheran University, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama and completed an M.A. in public policy with an emphasis in Latin America at Leiden University in the Netherlands. In 2004, he found his biological family in Colombia and has maintained a positive relationship with them. He enjoys traveling, dancing, amateur photography and is learning French. Jacob will return to Washington State this summer to begin teaching Spanish and coaching soccer.  


Along with 16 other Colombian adoptees, Jacob has just published a book detailing the experiences of Colombian adoptees in the U.S and Europe. The proceeds of this project will go towards funding DNA tests for adoptees beginning their search for their biological families back in Colombia. For more information, please visit their website at www.decodingorigins.com.

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Saturday Snapshot: “I Share My Story”

WACAP adoptee at gymnastics competition with parents, and quote she share about what it meant to have their "love and care"

Katelyn, WACAP adoptee from Russia, believes that every child deserves to know the story of a family’s love.

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“There in front of us”: One Family’s Thailand Adoption Story

Parents hugging their daughter, posing for outdoor photo between colorful posts.

Two years ago this month, Nicole and Derek were matched with their daughter, Chayanun, whom they adopted from Thailand last year. Below they share about the joy Chaya has brought to their family and the country that welcomed them when they traveled to meet her. Finally, they recall the words that have made all the difference for them — whether they were waiting for her or celebrating bringing her home.

Here is the letter they shared, written just before the spring.  


March 7, 2017 – Almost a year ago today we met our daughter for the first time. This was a day we had dreamt about since we began this journey years ago and finally we were there, waiting the last few moments out of thousands to finally be with our little girl. That first meeting was better than anything we could have imagined, she was really there in front of us and she was perfect. We were parents.

Our journey to adoption began after unsuccessful fertility treatments and some serious soul searching. We took some time to heal and process our loss and slowly began talking, first to one another about adopting, and then to adoption professionals in our area. We attended informational meetings on both international and domestic adoption and decided international adoption was the path we wanted to take. We decided to work with WACAP because an agency near us recommended them. This is the best choice we could have made. Throughout our entire process they were there for us, answering our questions and guiding us every step of the way. We decided to apply to the Thailand program, and since we had diagnosed infertility and met the age requirements we could apply to adopt a healthy child under 3 years old. Our dossier was approved in May of 2013 and we were matched with our amazing daughter Chayanun in May of 2015!

Toddler holding snacks and her stuffed animal

Loved by her family, Chaya multitasks with snacks in one hand, and a stuffed animal in the other.

In March of 2016 we were invited to travel to Thailand to meet our little girl. All of our patience had finally paid off! We were both filled with so much excitement and anxiety! Lindsey Gilbert, our case manager at WACAP, helped us prepare for our trip and definitely calmed some of our fears. WACAP also did an incredible job preparing us for our first meeting with Chaya, and the staff at the Thai Red Cross Children Home were very understanding and supportive during our stay in Thailand. We were able to meet many of the caregivers and nurses who had done such an incredible job caring for our daughter. We were so impressed with both the facility and the staff. You could tell that the all the children were loved very much and were given excellent care.

We spent most of our 16 days in Bangkok in our hotel room getting to know and forming a bond with our daughter, but ventured out to tour a few beautiful Buddhist temples, Lumphini Park, the aquarium and numerous ice cream parlors. Chaya bonded with Mommy first, and spent most of the stay in Bangkok clinging to her. Daddy had to build on meal time feedings, as that was his avenue towards bonding, and spent his time carrying the diaper bag, running errands and venturing out to the streets for some amazing Thai food. The Thai people were so warm and welcoming to us and our entire experience there was beyond anything we could have dreamed of.

We loved our time in Thailand but were excited to come home so all our friends and family could meet Chaya. We took things slow, staying close to home for the first few weeks, although we did attend our best friend’s son’s birthday party and visited with family on several occasions. We are amazed every day at how Chaya has not only progressed but has flourished. Despite Chaya being delayed in her speech in Thai and she was not exposed to much English, we were surprised how far she came after the first six months. When we took custody of her last year she was quiet and very reserved; now she loves meeting new friends everywhere she goes and enjoys talking and singing all day long! Shortly after coming home, she warmed up to Daddy and was soon squealing through the hallway to give out bear hugs at the end of the workday. She has brought so much joy into our lives; we are so proud to be her parents!

Toddler with a big smile standing outside in front of pink flowers

Smiling brighter than the flowers

One of the biggest lessons we learned from this process was patience, and it is something that we have tried to carry over into our new lives as parents. At one of the early informational meetings we attended, when the road in front of us was the longest, one of the speakers told the room that, “the one thing you’ll need most of all is patience.” We didn’t think much of it at the time but it is something that we have gone back to again and again. Sometimes when the waiting seemed too much to bear, we would think about that one word, patience. Really taking that virtue to heart and living it every single day has paid off and given us the greatest gift anyone could ever ask for.

Nicole & Derek

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In His Dancing Shoes: A Senior Prom Snapshot and Armando’s Story

This month, Armando — who loves music and especially hip hop — donned his dancing socks and shoes for his senior prom. All rhythm and smiles, he was thrilled. So was Armando’s family, who welcomed him home last year. Living in foster care at age 13, Armando needed a place to belong and family to belong to.

Click here to read this WACAP Success Story about Armando, the people who were part of his story, and the family who always encourages him to dance.

Armando's Senior Prom.jpg

Armando-Prom-Taking-a-Break.jpg

Armando's Prom.jpg

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School Essay Inspires: “Love Makes Family”

Teacher, Mr. Mead, with Alex, student winner of philanthropy essay competition

Teacher, Mr. Meade, (left) inspired by Alex’s essay about WACAP; WACAP selected for donation

It was just another Wednesday—or that’s at least what WACAP staff members thought as they got settled for the April staff meeting.

Soon, however, there was a room full of people blinking back tears, as a parent’s voice—their colleague’s voice—reached them with her daughter’s story. Alex’s story.

photo of Alex, who wrote about WACAP for school essay competition about philanthropy

“Love makes family,” says Alex.

Jo Reed, an adoptive mother of two children she’s unyieldingly proud of, beamed about her daughter.

Alex had won an essay competition about philanthropy for her English class, and she’d chosen to write about WACAP: the nonprofit adoption agency that helped bring her and her family together.

Alex not only did her homework about WACAP, but stood up at school to read this about what makes a family. Her mom, reading that same essay her daughter had read aloud in class, reminded us all that it was in fact, just another Wednesday with an incredible story about a family’s love, and an invitation to be part of that story.

Thank you to Alex for the invitation and for the reminder of what a difference we can make, any day of the week.

 

PDF Icon - Link to Alex's Essay

Alex-School-Essay-Love-Makes-A-Family-WACAP

As a result of hearing Alex’s essay, staff were inspired to match the donation  of Alex’s teacher and as a result, WACAP received over $400 to support its vital work bringing children and families together.

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Post-Adoption Success Story

parents and kids in favorite "Power Rangers' pose

The “Power Rangers’ is a favorite pose for this family

Today, on May 15, we highlight the story of parents Josh and Kelsey and what their adoption and their post-adoption follow-through has meant to so many: their children’s first caregivers, Thai government officials, and the many families waiting for their own children to come home. For those adoptive families that don’t understand the importance of the seeming red-tape of post-adoption reporting, we encourage them to comply with their child’s birth country requirements and help organizations like WACAP continue to do the hard work of finding families for waiting kids.

We want to introduce you to a family who helps tell the story of why post-adoption reporting to the country of a child’s origin is so vitally important.

In the fall of 2016, a team from WACAP traveled to Thailand to meet children who were waiting for families. Among the children they met while there were two brothers, ages six and two. The Thai government encouraged the WACAP team to find separate families for these brothers, as there was concern by officials that a single family would be hesitant to “take on” multiple kids of these ages, considering the children’s trauma history. The WACAP team members requested that the Thai government allow them to try to find one family for the brothers. Sharing stories of families who’ve committed to adopting siblings, staff assured the Thai officials they could find a family for both children. Hearing about how they had done so in the past, the Thai officials agreed.

It took 6 days for WACAP to identify a family for these boys.

Meet Josh and Kelsey. This couple welcomed Graham Kongkiat and Ike Nuttarit home in 2016.

The family shared their adoption journey and trip to Thailand in this emotional and heartwarming video.

Our reporter caught up with the family just last week to see how it was going and asked a few questions about how the post-adoption reporting experience has been for them.

WACAP: Josh and Kelsey, why was it important to you to write your post-adoption report?

Josh and Kelsey: It is important for us to write our post-adoption reports for many reasons. For one, our boys were so very loved and cared for in the orphanage of their birth country. It may not have been the type of love and care a Mommy, Daddy, and family could have given, but nevertheless, they cared for our children for 7 years and we owe it to them to have detailed reports and pictures. They deserve to know what bright futures the boys have ahead of them and how much they are thriving in the love and security of a family. Not doing post-adoption reports was never even a consideration for us. Secondly, sometimes it feels like we’re not doing anything right as parents, but then we look back at the old post-reports and can see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve thrived in our family.

WACAP: Did you realize the important role these reports play in intercountry adoptions?

Josh and Kelsey: We didn’t realize how important these post-adoptions reports were until we actually traveled to bring our boys home. Seeing the boys with their care-givers at the orphanage made it clear to us that they desperately wanted to keep a line of communication with us after we brought the boys to the US. They mentioned several times, “Don’t forget to send us pictures,” and “We can’t wait to hear how they are doing.” It made us realize that these post-adoption reports were not assigned as a threat to challenge our parenting abilities or a nuisance we just “have to get through.” These reports play an active role in the lives of the caregivers of our children. The country might know us on paper, but they only met us in-person for two weeks… and now have entrusted their children to us. If we were birth parents in the United States, and placed our children for inter-country adoption, we would plead for the same courtesy. We would want to know if our children are being cared for.

WACAP: What message do you have for adoptive families who might be too busy after their kids come home to do the post-adoption reporting?

Josh and Kelsey: Being “too busy” for post-adoption reporting almost sounds like an insult to the birth country. My husband and I both have full-time teaching careers, coach multiple sports, are involved in Youth ministry, as well as maintaining a dedication to our extended families. We take the boys to multiple medical check-ups, therapy sessions, and put them through public school while allowing them to be involved in school sports and extra-curricular activities. We understand what “busy” means. We started the adoption process knowing that we made a commitment to fulfill our adoption obligations to the fullest- that includes post-adoption reporting. This country allowed us to adopt these children with the understanding that we would provide post-adoption reports. By not sending post-adoption reports, we would be sending a message to our children that their birth country is not worth our time; therefore, disrespecting their heritage.

WACAP: What is life like today with your two boys home and settled into your family?

Josh and Kelsey: Now that the boys are home and becoming settled, we face many daily challenges, but experience the greatest of joys. Our boys are so incredibly happy to be in a family with their Mommy and Daddy, and they tell us that often. Both boys really enjoy school, playing sports, and spending time with their grandparents and cousins. We love watching them hit milestone after milestone and praising their accomplishments. The boys have picked up on English quickly and are beginning to feel comfortable and secure enough to open up to us about their lives in their birth country. We celebrate their heritage often with meals, birth-country holidays and learning about the culture. The boys have a lot of trauma they are still dealing with and, thankfully, we have found ways to help them, professionally and parentally. We love our sons with all of our hearts and are so incredibly happy to call them ours. We live one day at a time- some days are great, others are trying, but we are confident adoption was the right choice for our family.

WACAP’s CEO Greg Eubanks agrees that a family makes all the difference, and that a report about the impact a family has can be transformational.

“These reports are vital for future adoptions, because this is the way we remain accountable to a child’s country of origin.  Adoption can feel so much like a bureaucracy at times that we lose the human side.  The officials and central authorities in each country care deeply about the children they are placing with our families.  They trust each one of us to do right by their children, loving them well, helping them meet their potential, and maintaining their cultural heritage.

Plus, in cases like this one, reports help us prove our worth, and keep our word.  I remember meeting these brothers and hearing their story.  Hearing the fear in the voices of adoption workers that we couldn’t find a family for both of them, due to their age & history. When they asked us to find separate families and we balked at that idea, it took some negotiating.  Reports from the Josh and Kelsey and their social worker about how they are doing underscore that we know how to do this, and families like them aren’t the exception.  They are the rule.”

WACAP program staff report that Thai officials were so encouraged by the post-adoption reports from the Davis family, and seeing how the boys have thrived in their new home that they are considering a subsequent request for a single placement of another set of siblings who are waiting for a family. And that’s great news… for the organizations that care for children, the people who work to find the right families for them, and ultimately, the waiting children around the world.

The Office of Children’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State has declared May 15th Post-Adoption Report Day. The goal is to highlight the importance of submitting post-adoption reports for families who made those commitments as part of the international adoption process.. The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) says post-adoption reports are one of the ways countries assess whether children are healthy, safe, and loved as a result of intercountry adoption. This information can be critical to deciding whether future children will have the option to join families through intercountry adoption or might otherwise languish in institutions or other impermanent situations.

Additional resources:

Recent article by Zoila Lopez: Post Adoption Reporting: Why It Matters

 

 

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GiveBIG for Children on May 10!

May 10, 2017, is GiveBIG!

We invite you to join us for this one-day online celebration of philanthropy, sponsored by the Seattle Foundation.

WACAP’s vision is “a family for every child.” We believe every child without a family deserves our advocacy and help finding permanency. Donate on May 10 and help make that happen.

WACAP Give Big Blog Graphic - link to https://www.givebigseattle.org/world-association-for-children-and-parents

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