Five Days That Last a Lifetime

Each August, nearly 300 WACAP parents and kids dig out their sleeping bags and travel to Sun Lakes in Central Washington for WACAP’s annual Family Camp. Five days later, they return home, usually a little closer, and feeling more connected they did before. One WACAP mom said it best: “Our time together in Sun Lakes was remarkable. I can feel how supported I am, and even when things aren’t perfect, I see my kids accepting more and more how very loved they are.”

As pictures and stories surface from Family Camp this month, we can only agree — “remarkable,” for the same wonderful reasons as every year.

Here’s a look at just a few of those reasons from WACAP Family Camp 2015 :

Growing community:

A photo of a group of smiling people around a picnic table

A picnic dinner at WACAP Family Camp

WACAP Family Camp is a great opportunity for families to connect and enjoy one another’s company. Here, two adoptive families get to know each other over dinner together, as their daughters, Emma and Julia (twins, age 12), and Keira (8) trade stories and smiles.

Culture and connections:

Family Camp holds a special place in the heart of Madison, who was adopted from Russia 18 years ago. “It is truly the highlight of my summer,” she tells us. “It makes me so happy to see all of the kids and their parents bonding and enjoying this time together.” Madison also appreciates the learning opportunities camp provides. “I love the variety of cultures that WACAP brings together and all of the fun activities that are organized to help us learn different facts about each one.”

Madison, right, and friends on bingo night.

Madison and friends on bingo night.

Ongoing friendship and support: 

These WACAP adoptees and siblings have formed strong friendships that keep them coming back to Family Camp each summer. “What has stuck with us is those friends that have been there multiple years and we can now call family,” says Ian, and adoptee from India and longtime camper. “We don’t just get together once a year, we connect with each other and try to meet up throughout the year. This camp makes us family.” Ian’s friend Becky agrees: “We may not see each other every day, but we always come together with friendships just as strong as before. More than anything this is a group that supports us through thick and thin at camp and at home. These relationships are truly the kind that last your entire life.”

Dedicated volunteers:

WACAP Family Camp wouldn’t be possible without the work of the wonderful volunteers who make it happen. WACAP is so grateful to Kyle and Aundi Russel, who work all year to make Family Camp such a positive experience. A very special and heartfelt thank you goes out to Terry Potter, an adoptive mom of three WACAP kids from India. For the last 23 years, Terry has been a dedicated family camp organizer. Her hard work has made an impact on hundreds of families, and she is now enjoying time with her children and grandchildren as she “retires” from WACAP Family Camp. Thank you for everything Terry!

The magic:

This inspiring setting is the backdrop for these special family memories and lasting friendships, year after year.

A photo of a dramatic sunset over a lake

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Oh, What a ‘Family Fun Night!’

We’re thrilled that hundreds of WACAP parents, kids and friends joined us on Saturday for an evening of baseball and family fun at Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium.

Thanks to Wizards of the Coast for sponsoring this year’s Family Fun Night! And thank you to all those who made a contribution to WACAP, the staff and volunteers who made this event possible, as well as the Rainiers and everyone who participated in making the day so memorable.

A very special thanks to Rielee, who threw out the first pitch of the game on behalf of WACAP. In fact, deciding that she might be able to throw even farther if she tried again, she picked up the ball … and threw out the second pitch, too. We love her determination and her spirit.

First pitch at WACAP's Family Fun Night with Tacoma Rainiers

Rielee throws out the first pitch for WACAP at the Tacoma Rainiers game

This post concludes the series focusing on our mission, vision and values. Visit and refer to this blog feed to read any of the recent posts about our organization and the concepts that drive us forward for children.

Posted in Adoption Washington, Celebrations, Events, Foster Care, Mission Vision Values Series, Philanthropy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Innovation in Adoption

We aspire to do more, through innovative methods.

Innovation_in_adoptionIf you search the term “Innovation in Adoption” on Google, the majority of results you get are articles related to the “adoption” of technology in various industries over recent years. But what about innovation in the FIELD of adoption?

Adoption has happened in the U.S. (whether legally, or under the radar) for centuries. In those terms, international adoption is relatively new, having taken off in the 1950’s. But the ways in which the field of adoption has changed over the past 60 years, particularly with the advent of web technology and social media, is astounding:

  • Email has vastly changed the way that WACAP is able to communicate with our families, adoption officials and partner NGOs. Nowadays, many questions can be asked immediately and answered promptly without the need to wait for mutually-scheduled phone calls across time zones. Family home studies are regularly emailed to us from social workers across the country. Children’s files, photos, and even video are often available to WACAP immediately via government websites, or through direct emails from our partners in each country. Even when original paper documents are required, delivery services such as FedEx and DHS have made the world a much smaller place.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools have vastly expanded the way that WACAP is able to advocate for children, keep our families up-to-date on the latest news, and connect our families with one another. Last year we launched our private Facebook support group where families can share resources and tips for handling bumps in the road, as well as celebrate triumphs with one another as they raise their children. WACAP has also experienced recent success with engaging a handful of well-connected, placed parents to advocate on behalf of WACAP’s waiting children via blogs, Facebook groups, and other social media venues (if this is something you’d like to do, please let us know:
  • Families wishing to adopt a child no longer request hard copy “photobooks” of waiting children from WACAP. These days, families can regularly search the agency websites to find a child that might be right for their family. At WACAP, our waiting child website is updated daily with new children’s profiles and those who have been matched with families are removed in real time. Never before has there been access to so much information on waiting children!

WACAP looks forward to launching a freshly updated website in the coming weeks. Families should find the new waiting child search and other pages much easier to navigate, whether using a desktop or mobile device. While technology continues to evolve at a lightning pace, one thing is certain – we at WACAP will continue to use these tools in ways that will ensure the greatest number of children come home to families where they will be loved and cherished.

Interested in learning more? Visit and refer to this blog feed  to read more about our organization and the concepts that drive us forward for children.

Julie_WACAPAbout WACAP’s Director of Communications, Julie Snyder: Julie joined the organization in 2008. Her role includes managing WACAP’s website and webinars, social media, advertising and internet marketing campaigns. Julie’s role at home includes being mom to her six-year-old daughter adopted through the China Waiting Child program.

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Our success? Hero driven.

In my job, I work every day to drive the philanthropic engine behind WACAP’s work. Like most nonprofits, we wrestle with how to best describe our mission and the stories that flow from its spark. In our world, however, one thing is clear. The people of WACAP– our staff, adoptive parents, volunteers and donors– are the absolute reason for our success. Their efforts are heroic, really. It should come as no surprise, then, that our values include an aspiration to develop leaders from within our ranks and to recognize the many examples of outstanding efforts on behalf of children around the world.

A photo of four children dressed as popular superheroesAt WACAP we aspire to develop leaders who will dream, inspire & accomplish great things in the world of adoption.

While WACAP as an organization has been a leader in the field of adoption for decades, we are just as committed to developing leaders from among our individual employees and high level volunteers to enhance and increase our effectiveness.

  • We see leadership in employees like Zia and Elana and Kate who develop and deliver outstanding training for prospective families, preparing them for what’s to come and building relationships that invite families to seek them out as a resource when the going gets tough.
  • Leadership is foundational for  coworkers like Jo and Lynne and Denise and Lindsey, who launch innovative methods to match children with families – and are successful when very few believe it possible.


We also work to recognize great work when we see it.  

There’s no doubt about it: our people do amazing things every day to change the lives of children. We’re going on record and stand committed to expressing value for these accomplishments in more intentional and relevant methods. You should get to know these folks:

  • Volunteers like Jan who donates her time and expertise to edit and format a bulletin of waiting children in China, works with information in the child and family data bases, and has compiled and charted research data on family recruitment. Or James who edits videos of waiting children so we can share a little of their personalities with potential families.
  • Adoptive parents like Matt or Becky who not only remain committed to their adoptive children, but call WACAP with a desire to advocate for more children, and help find them families.
  • Board Members like Laura, who share their stories with others, volunteer their time to directing the work of WACAP and ensuring our ongoing success.

Yes, our people are heroes. We’re unbelievably proud, and lives will never be the same.

Interested in learning more? Visit and follow this blog feed for a new post each week through July to read more about our organization and the concepts that drive us forward for children.

DuncanKids_WACAPAbout WACAP’s Vice President of Fund Development, Mary Duncan:  Mary Duncan first volunteered with WACAP in 1993, working at an orphanage in Romania and soon after, joined WACAP’s staff. Having just celebrated her 22nd year at WACAP, she counts her children, who are often (willingly) voluntold to assist with WACAP events, among WACAP’s heroes.



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Integrity and Ethics

For years, adoption practice has focused on the pursuit of that which is in the ‘best interest of the child.’ What, exactly, does that mean? There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question, because every child is different. Every culture is different. Every family is different.

Iceberg_WACAPAdoption is complicated, challenging and beautiful. Everyone loves a good homecoming, but this joyous moment is only the tip of the iceberg compared to the journey leading to this end. There is much more going on under the water’s surface.

  • “What are the reasons adoption is in a child’s best interest? Why can a child no longer live with birth family? Who makes this decision, and how do they make it?”
  • What has been the emotional cost of living in the care of well-intentioned but limited governmental systems, and how can new parents best respond?
  • How are children matched with families?
  •  Who made these rules, whether federal or state government or agency guidelines, and why?

Regardless of one’s specific role in the adoption triad – or the many others who are part of the adoption journey, emotions run high and opinions are strongly felt. What’s more, those opinions they can sometimes disagree.

Since WACAP’s foundation, we have focused on the unique circumstances of each child. This has lead us to develop a system to consult on each case when needed as we work toward determining what serves a child’s best interests. Considerations include:

  • Perspectives of adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents.
  • Statutory and regulatory requirements.
  • Clinical research.
  • Our collective professional experience.

Occasionally, these decisions are readily apparent. More often, they are quite difficult. We love those situations when we get to say ‘yes,’ but integrity occasionally demands that we say ‘no’ to orphanages, officials, or opportunities. It is at these times that we hold close our value of integrity and the ethical practice of adoption. The children we all serve together deserve more than ‘good enough,’ don’t they? They deserve our very best.

Interested in learning more? Visit and follow this blog feed for a new post each week through July to read more about our organization and the concepts that drive us forward for children.

About WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions, Mary Moo: Mary has had the joy of bringing families and children together through international adoption since 1991. During these years she has coordinated adoptions in several countries including China, Cambodia, Ethiopia,  India, Korea, and Romania. Her career in adoption has been supported by immediate and extended family who are also members of the adoption triad.

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Excellence: More Than Words

wacap values family, passion, integrity, excellence, and little girl with cleft lip and palate adopted from chinaWhen we made a declaration of those traits we value at WACAP, we decided to take a risk. Let’s face it, hardly anyone chooses to value excellence. It’s polarizing. (Read those last sentences again, but this time with tongue firmly in cheek.) Clearly claiming not only the pursuit of but the achievement of excellence in our work is, however, a challenge we at WACAP are ready to meet. What does excellence look like in the world of adoption? Below are my thoughts:

  • Excellence looks like a compelling case for support, inviting our community to invest in the future of children with us.
  • It feels exhausting and overwhelming, after two weeks overseas meeting more than 300 children who need families, then realizing that we must find a way to advocate for every one of them.
  • It sounds frustrating, when we communicate tough decisions through phone lines and across time zones, and hope that our emphasis on meeting the best interests of children is clearly understood. (This one frustrates on both sides of that phone call.)
  • Excellence is found in the late night planning for our Family Friday adoption training events, knowing that preparing families for adoption is actually a profound service to children.
  • It is the sense of comfort and reassurance you feel, knowing that all of the delays, any re-filing of paperwork, each of the notarized documents filed, have culminated in the creation of a forever family, and family has the power to transform lives.
  • It sounds like sincere compassion, when a family makes the brave decision to ask for help after placement when things seem to be falling apart, and they realize they aren’t alone.
  • Excellence is the joy we feel when we find just the right family for a child, or sibling group, after others have said it couldn’t be done. And it is the happy tears that come when we open an email with photos of those children thriving in their new homes.

“We are proud of the work we do, achieving excellence every day.”

Why do we strive every day at WACAP to achieve excellence? Children are worth it. Our families are worth it. We have set our sights on excellence because — beyond the resolve of our staff, and steadfastness of our families, and after the hard work they do — the results are remarkable.

Interested in learning more? Visit and follow this blog feed for a new post each week through July to read more about our organization and the concepts that drive us forward for children.

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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To China and Back

Mary and Elana in China

Mary and Elana in China

WACAP staff members Mary Moo and Elana Roschy recently returned from a trip to China, where they met many children in need of families. Mary provided a brief update about these children:

We saw over 300 children and we will be looking for families for close to 150 of them.  Some of the 150 are children we already have been advocating for but many of them are new children for whom we’ll be receiving files for over the coming months.

During the trip we met with 5 partnership orphanages and one of those is a new partnership orphanage in Shandong province.  We are sorting through thousands of photos that we took during the trip. We saw children whose medical conditions were resolved or reasonably minor as well as children with significant needs.  Two younger children had very serious heart conditions so we hope to get their files quickly to start advocating for them.

Many children in China are in need of families.

Many children in China are in need of families.

If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a child from China, please contact us.

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Passion for Finding Families

When I first came to WACAP, I was, I admit, a bit of a doubting Thomas. I had doubts whether we really could find a family for every child. It’s a nice thought, but is it reality? I thought, “Maybe we could find families for most children, but not all children.” However, after being proven wrong over and over again, my direct experience has taught me – it can be done! What it takes is passion. Putting passion to work yields great results.

A photo of four smiling girls

A family for every child

My particular job involves finding families in some of the most challenging situations, and I have experienced that there is a family for every child out there. We just need the resources and time to find that family. Over and over, amazing WACAP staff have found families within impossible time limits when a child is reaching their country’s adoption age cut-off, or needs to be quickly adopted to get life-saving medical care. We have found families for children who are much older, children with five siblings that need to stay together, and children with serious medical needs. I’ve seen adoptions that I didn’t think were possible-families reaching out to adopt a child with neither arms nor legs; children who have been abused and are working through trauma; children who are missing part of their brains; older children who are both blind and deaf; children with very rare diseases; children with short life expectancy, and children who have lived on the streets and not even received orphanage care for much time. Over this time, I’ve also seen and celebrated many relatively healthy children go home to loving families. With each new day, so many of the children we serve continue to astonish and inspire me.

Once you have seen repeatedly that there is a family for every child, you really develop a passion for finding families.  Somehow you just keep trying until you know that child is home with his or her family. These children move your heart and you just get hooked – you know the family is out there somewhere– and you know you are the last chance a child has for a family.

What happens if an adoption worker doesn’t believe the child is adoptable and doesn’t have that passion and inspiration to find a family? Research shows if an adoption worker thinks a child is “unadoptable,” then this attitude will greatly impact that person’s ability to find a family for the child. Research indicates that with special efforts, permanent families can be found for any child. I know from personal experience that if a worker views a child as “unadoptable”, he or she is doing such a great disservice to that child.

A photo of a smiling girl with a bow in her hair

Could you be the family for Sarah?

Rest assured, WACAP staff (including me, a recovered doubting Thomas) know every child is adoptable and we make heroic efforts to find each one’s permanent family. We have become increasingly passionate about our work with children.

A family I worked with recently said to me, “Adoption is not for the faint of heart- it is for the lion hearted.” I watch closely as families familiar with a certain medical need are genuinely able to manage this need for their child and other children they adopt with the same or related need, and it compels me to keep moving forward, looking for the next family.  Are you open to adopting a child with a medical or age-related need, who has a brother or sister, or who needs support while overcoming a difficult past? Please let us know. We believe each child, no matter the individual needs he or she has, deserves a family. You might be just the family we’re so passionate about finding!

Interested in learning more? Visit and follow this blog feed for a new post each week through July to read more about our organization and the concepts that drive us forward for children.

About WACAP’s Research and Recruitment Manager, Lynne Mason: Lynne Mason has worked as WACAP’s Research and Recruitment Manager for over 8 years. In this role, Lynne helps find adoptive families for children across the globe, many of whom are passed by because of challenges in their past or because of health or age-related needs. Lynne is committed to being a daily advocate for these children and finding each child the family prepared to meet his or her needs. A member of hundreds of listservs and Facebook groups, she shares these children’s stories across communities, states and networks. She believes that if time were no object, she could find the family who is right for every waiting child.

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The Power of Family

WACAP believes in the power of family to transform lives.

A photo of a small girl

Mia, before finding her family

We get to witness this transformation time and time again, as we see children come home to loving families. Mia recently came home to her family, joining her brother Maddox, whom we met in 2012. Her transition from life in an orphanage in India, to life with a mom, dad, and brother, is a perfect example of the power of family. Mia’s mom writes:

I just wanted to share our new family pictures. We cannot believe Mia has been home for five months already! She is doing great! She met the rest of her family last week and they all love her so much. She saw the ocean for the first time and giggled every step through the small waves! She is doing great and is the biggest blessing to our family!! 

A photo of two smiling children with their armsa round each other.

Mia with her brother, Maddox


Mia with her dad


Happy to be home

All smiles on Mia's first trip to the ocean.

All smiles on Mia’s first trip to the ocean.


What a difference a family makes


The power of family

Over the coming weeks we’ll be discussing the values that describe who we are and how we approach our mission. Click here and follow this blog feed to learn more.

Posted in Adoption, Celebrations, International Adoption, Mission Vision Values Series, Welcome Home | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Meet Tess, WACAP’s Youngest Volunteer

Four-year-old Tess Ketarkus was found in Xi’an, China in early 2011 and adopted by Joe and Becky Ketarkus in November of 2012.  She is the ninth of ten amazing Ketarkus Kids.  Tess was born with a congenital heart defect that required two incredibly complex surgeries.  Her mom is a wonderfulTess volunteer for WACAP‘s China Program as a Parent Advocate, working to spread the word and answer questions about children who need families. Tess always works alongside her mom.  After Tess’ most recent heart surgery, she was given a job of her very own.  This job turned out to be incredibly important to Tess’ recovery.  It gave her a purpose with a cause she loves– helping waiting children.

Tess’ volunteer task is to give pseudonyms to some of the children who are waiting for their families, so that they can be posted on WACAP’s secure waiting child website. Tess takes this job very seriously and sometimes has to really think about the child and their name for a very long time.  She keeps a baby name book near her bed, and a running list of possible names.  Her mom shows her the child’s picture and often she’ll run off to “think about it.”  Later, she’ll come back and say “I’m ready to give my baby a name.”  Sometimes, Tess’ babies are older than she is.  When asked about this, Tess said to her mom “that’s okay, they can be my babies until they’re someone else’s.”  She doesn’t care if they’re two or twelve, they’re all “her babies.”

Tess recently sat down with her mom to tell us a little more about herself, her family, and her volunteer work with WACAP.

Tess2Can you tell us a little bit about your family?

Tess: There are 10 kids in my family.  They are all adopted! (Tess pronounces it ‘da-dopted’).  I like playing with all my kids.  I love them so much.  I don’t like it when they go to school, but pretty soon, they won’t.  Because it’s ALMOST SUMMMMEEERRRR!!! *insert shrieks of delight*​

How did you get started with this volunteer project?

 I like to name all the babies who don’t have mamas yet.  My mom’s friend, [WACAP Waiting Child Case Manager] Lindsey, sends me emails.  ​We look at a baby name book and I pick a name.  Then, it’s the baby’s name until they’re ‘da-dopted.’  I like that when they’re ‘da-dopted’.  Did you know that Louis will be ‘da-dopted’ soon?  I saw his picture and I love him.  He’s got a mama now.  That makes me feel SO HAPPPYYYY!!! *again, shrieks of delight* Now I want baby Emilio to find his family.  Okay?

What do you like best about volunteering with WACAP?

​ I like to see the babies.  Sometimes, they look like my sister, Cate, or my brother, Bo.  They’re from China too!  I’m from China.  Do you know that?!?​  Sometimes the babies are big like my sister, Ally.  We still call them babies.  They can be their mama’s baby.  I’ll still be my mama’s baby, even when I’m growed up.  

What do you like to do when you’re not volunteering for WACAP?

​ I like to play.  I like unicorns, princesses and things that are pink.  I like to do yuga (yoga).  I go to yuga class.  Did you know that?!? ​

What are your plans for the future?

​Well…my heart is fixed now.  Did you know that?!? I had a heart defect, but it’s fixed.  So,Tess3 now I’m going to have a party.  But, not yet, and not a birthday party.  My birthday isn’t for a while.  This party is for my heart, because it’s fixed.  But, my party isn’t today.  So, maybe, I’ll just go out to lunch today.  That would be fun!  ​Did you know that?!? 

Thank you, Tess, for all the great work you do for waiting children!

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