For Children in Taiwan …

WACAP Adoption Program Manager Mei-Na Tien recently traveled to Taiwan, her home, where she celebrates the Lunar New Year with her family and friends each year.

During her visit, Mei-Na also arranged to spend a day with a Taiwanese agency that asked to learn more about foster care and adoption in the U.S. Throughout the day, she listened and answered questions the agency had about the first steps, the homestudy, and support after the adoption.

As she detailed the process for the agency staff, she thought of her family at home. She knew they would be waiting for her when the day was done.

With the warm faces of her family in mind, her thoughts turned toward the children in Taiwan who had no one waiting – many of them toddlers – and the need for committed families for these little ones.

If you have questions about adopting from Taiwan, or want to know more about the children currently waiting for families, please contact us at

smiling child wearing blue plaid shirt outdoors in grassy field; adjacent text reading

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Adoption FAQ: “How does WACAP decide where to work?”


WACAP Information Specialist, Debbie

How does WACAP determine which countries to work with … and what’s involved in partnering with a new country on international adoption?

This is a question that I often hear as I talk with families who want to learn more about adoption.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Mary Moo, WACAP’s vice president of adoptions, about this question. Mary expanded not only on what guides our decisions, but also the upfront time, collaboration, and care that goes into establishing a new adoption program. This, of course, does not end once the program has been established: there’s ongoing communication, in-country visits, and attention given to ensure we support the children and our families according to the highest standards of service.

Please read on for Mary’s response to this frequently asked question.

close-up image of a globe, in antique shades and pastels, showing the equator near Indonesia

Why such a limited number of countries?
The world is full of children who live in institutional care, live on the streets or live in insecure and dangerous situations. No country has ended this age-old sadness. So, with so many children around the world who seem to be excellent candidates for adoption because of their apparent need for a family, why does WACAP only work in such a limited number of countries?

Difficult Realities
As many of you may know, doing adoption work correctly is hard work. First making sure that a child can’t stay or return to their birth family takes time and effort. In many countries, a majority of the organizations serving orphans and vulnerable children lack funding or systems and sometimes knowledge of best practices. Commonly circumstances surrounding children who could benefit from adoption are challenging due to the complicated nature of birth family situations, natural disasters and poverty. Furthermore, governments’ ability to see adoption as an ongoing, viable option for children can become clouded by domestic capacity challenges, foreign organizations’ pressure, or lack of funding, among other factors.

One Priority: Helping Children Ethically
Because of these difficult realities, finding countries that we can feel confident to work in is also difficult. That’s why — when we consider starting to work in a new country — the first priority for WACAP is identifying if we can be successful in helping children ethically.

While there are many countries that, unfortunately, have reputations for corruption, WACAP has found that finding the right colleagues makes all the difference. Finding organizations and people who are likeminded in their commitment to helping children in need of families is the key.

More than Paperwork and Processes: Finding Those Likeminded in Commitment
We find these likeminded organizations and people through friends, adoptive families, board members and other organizations. Commonly the process starts with exchanges of emails to get to know each other, the circumstances for children in need from that particular country, how the process works in both countries and exploring best practices that each agency feels strongly about. Increasingly, many foreign countries also require WACAP to become authorized or accredited by the foreign government. Trips are made to visit the organization, to talk with government departments responsible for adoption as well as meet with U.S. Embassy staff.

In the end, the decision to start working in a new country is based on collecting lots of information from different parties; our confidence in colleagues that we have identified in-country; the securing of necessary licensing; and the knowledge that the adoption process is functioning sufficiently to enable successful, ethical adoptions to happen.

Typically, this process takes at minimum a year, typically two, or sometimes three (as it did with Haiti) before we are able to welcome families to join us in helping children from a new country.

For Children
While it’s a lot of hard work, we know the smiles in the end make it all worthwhile.

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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Immigration, Adoption and Citizenship

This is not a political blog post. It is a blog post, however, that arrives in the midst of a political storm. I hope you will hear the intent. The immigration debate is far from over. Emotions are high, and understandably so. At WACAP, we want to take this opportunity to repeat a message we have, like many adoption professionals, addressed for decades: the importance of obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship for all foreign born adopted children. Below is information gleaned from our welcome home packet for all newly established adoptive families. The information is worth repeating at this time.

A U.S. Certificate of Citizenship (CoC) is one of the most important documents you can obtain to fully support your child’s future. The CoC is proof that your child is a citizen of the United States and, as such, is entitled to all benefits of citizenship.

Many have asked, “Isn’t our adoption decree, U.S. passport or birth certificate enough proof?”

Close-up on Statue of Liberty, face, crown, and uplifited arm, against blue sky

The answer, unfortunately, is “No, not for everyone.” While some adoptive parents assume their local court’s adoption decree and U.S.-issued birth certificate are all that is needed, these documents do not always provide their children with that extra layer of protection afforded to the children, and eventual adults, who can produce a CoC.

February 27, 2001 is a significant date, here. This is when the Child Citizenship Act of 20001 went into effect, for those adopted internationally under age eighteen. The law was not retroactive, however.

There is a blog post making its way around online adoption groups, posted in May of 2016, which states, “The passport is issued by the U.S. State Department. It is a proof of citizenship, allows one to travel, and can be used as a form of identification. It expires and must be renewed.”

WACAP regularly receives reports from adoptees or their parents advising that some offices (government and private) have not accepted the adoptee’s passport as sufficient evidence of citizenship. While the US government may intend the passport to be sufficient evidence of citizenship, the experience of adoptees in communities large and small throughout the U.S. attests that a passport alone isn’t always enough.

“The Certificate of Citizenship is issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It never expires. It is the most definitive proof of citizenship that the U.S. offers.” 2

If social media posts, comments, and statuses are any indicator, there is a significant and vocal population of adoptive parents who do not view their children as immigrants. It is important, however, to understand that the United States Government has always viewed internationally adopted children as immigrants. Legal immigrants, mind you, but immigrants nonetheless. Some argue that there is evidence to support the notion that the U.S. Congress views adoptees as immigrants only, rather than family members, citing the lack of retroactive citizenship in the Child Citizenship Act as well as the fear many adoptees have over being deported.3,4,5

Our hope at WACAP is that you can feel confident in your child’s citizenship, and that you can instill that confidence in your child(ren) with accurate and relevant information. If you have any questions about CoCs or the process for getting one, please consult this website or contact WACAP’s post placement and finalization team at 206.575.4550 or 800.732.1887.



About WACAP’s Clinical Director, Zoila Lopez: Zoila joined WACAP in 2016 as Clinical Director. She is an adoptive mom, a former foster parent, and brings to her new role an extensive background of work as a therapist and adoption coach to support all members of the adoption triad.

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Reality, Not Romance

Yellow construction sign reading Last fall I met a young man adopted internationally. He had been home for one year, and I was taken by his maturity and language development. He is a young teenager, and I was getting to know him a bit before a WACAP event.

I must confess that I had this narrative in my head that I try to avoid, but as I tell true stories of lives transformed, I find that I slip into its familiar hold. When adoption happens, lives truly are changed for the better: both for the adoptees and the adoptive family. However, adoptees – in my experience – rarely need rescuing, and adoptive parents are neither saints nor saviors. I confess, however, that I get caught up in the romance of an orphan once lost, now found.

This young man, however, destroyed any idealistic narrative in a matter of seconds. As I was asking about his story, given that he is mature enough to give voice to his experience, I focused on the time he spent waiting. He remembered WACAP staff visiting him, yes. He remembered talk of adoption and work to find him a family, yes. So, when I asked what it was like for him when these “heroic” adoption professionals left the orphanage, motivated to find his family, his reply was firmly rooted in realism, rather than romance.

“What do you mean,” he asked. “I went to school. I had homework.”

He had no patience for my attempts to carve out a soundbite. There was no way he was going to entertain even the slightest amount of emotional manipulation. That wasn’t his experience. He loves his family, he is thriving in adoption, and he appreciates the turn his life has taken. He is not, however, beholden. His adoption experience, as most adoptees will confirm, is more complex than this. The beauty of it is folded in, among all the disorder. Like life, really. So normal.

We like to think of time suspended as children wait for adoption. But that’s not the case. They are living life, building relationships, and learning. Sometimes, in our misplaced messianic fantasies, we weave a narrative of a child’s life on pause, just waiting to begin. This idea fuels an infuriating portrait of children warehoused and pre-packaged for shipping. Just place your order.

I write this post because the concept is a prerequisite to success in adoption. Like any type of parenting, we must reject any notion that our children are lucky to have us, or that our children owe parents their endless gratitude. Adoption is far more complicated, which makes it much more interesting.

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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Looking Forward

Embarking on our 41st year of bringing children and families together through adoption, we’re looking forward … carried by the community of supporters, staff, adoptive parents and adoptees who comprise WACAP’s history and story.

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Adoption FAQs: New Year, New Series

Happy New Year! I’m excited to share WACAP’s newest blog series for 2017 – Adoption FAQs. Every few weeks throughout the year, we will be providing answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, sharing adoption program highlights, featuring interviews with our case managers for country-specific questions, and taking your questions for future posts.


First, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Debbie and I’m the Adoption Information Specialist at WACAP. While I’m “newer” to WACAP, I have a long history with adoption as it has touched my life in many ways. In fact, much of the WACAP staff is comprised of adult adoptees and adoptive parents and siblings, so we have a deep, personal understanding of adoption and the impact of bringing children and families together.

This new blog series is intended to support families regardless of the stage of the process you find yourself in. We will touch on early stages of agency and program research, the homestudy process, in-country processes, how to manage “the wait”, bringing your child home, managing immigration and citizenship requirements, and how WACAP continues to support families through post-adoption and beyond.

At WACAP we understand there is not only a process involved in making the decision to adopt, but also in finding the right country/program for your family, and preparing yourselves  – financially and emotionally – to bring a new child into your family. We are here to support you every step of the way. Please use this blog as a resource. There are so many questions, it may be difficult to know where to start. I am here to answer your questions and welcome your comments, emails and phone calls.

Stay tuned for upcoming Adoption FAQs, and please send your questions to You might even see your questions published in a future post!


About Debbie: Debbie joined WACAP in September of 2015 as the Adoption Information Specialist. She is dedicated to helping families fulfill their dream of building their family through adoption. If you’re interested in learning more about WACAP, discussing program eligibility, or have general questions about adoption – please contact Debbie at 800-732-1887 ext. 547 or

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It Takes a Little Time

I’ve heard them time and again. Questions about adoption can often come across as riddles, often leading to even more questions. Most often, I find that my answer invariably begins with the phrase, “It depends.” This question, however, has a specific answer, and it is one that guides our work at WACAP.“If there are so many children who are waiting for adoption, then why is it so hard to adopt, and why does it take so long?”

Ages of children WACAP is advocating and seeking families for as of January 2017: teens (17%); age 10-12 (17%); age 5-9 (31%); age 3-4 (15%); age 0-2 (20%).

  1. Though there are indeed many, many children who need adoption, the children who wait aren’t infants. There are 13 million orphans worldwide who have lost both parents.1 In the U.S.A, there are just under 108,000 children in foster care waiting for adoption.2 In 2016, WACAP worked with almost 630 children from eight different countries, and 80% were age 3 or older. One third are age ten and older. While many families come to the adoption table with thoughts of younger children, the youth who wait don’t often fit that expectation. Closing the gap between expectation and reality can take some time.

  2. Not only are waiting children often older, they bring with them all of the trauma that has shaped their history. Abandonment, abuse, neglect, institutionalization, and multiple placements make for a rough start. It’s not a thought with which we are comfortable. But it is reality. But don’t be discouraged. Rather, be prepared. WACAP spends time educating our families on the impact of such trauma histories on a child’s development, and we have plans to incorporate more of trauma-informed care in our family education and support. We talk through parenting techniques and set up support systems for when children come home. Children from hard places will need a different type of parent. I will make a declaration here, and this may shock some readers: 100% of children placed for adoption have trauma histories. WACAP spends the time to help families prepare.

  3. Let’s talk special needs. I’m not a fan of that label, but it’s often more concise than a discussion of diverse medical diagnoses, treatments, and developmental delays. In 2016, 75% of children placed through WACAP had some identified special medical or developmental need. Add into that the unique aspects of older child adoption and developmental trauma, and the percentage jumps to 90%.
    Types of “Special Needs” identified among adoptions completed in calendar year 2016, and graphically displayed in a pie chart/by percentage as follows: vision/hearing (7%); developmental disorders (10%); birth defects (19%); congenital heart defects (12%); cerebral palsy (8%); Down syndrome (6%); cerebrospinal (7%); limb differences (7%); older age range/complex trauma (14%); none (10%).

    Types of “Special Needs” identified among adoptions completed in calendar year 2016

  4. Adoption doesn’t erase the years that have passed before a child comes home. Physical and emotional scars remain. Biological parents, foster families, and orphanage friends all exist. A child’s history, including habits, hobbies, traditions, smells, culture norms, language, climate, religion, race, gender and sexual identities, likes and dislikes, fears, resentments, anger, and unbelievable grief are all packed up in the suitcase that comes with you on that plane or car ride home. We spend the time to help you become ready to unpack it all and keep it safe.

  5. Children deserve our very best efforts. Initially, we want to reunite them with biological family members when possible. We hope for a child to remain safely and securely within their country of origin, state, or neighborhood. They’ve suffered enough losses by this point, haven’t they? We do our best to not do more harm when we are trying to redeem an untenable situation. WACAP firmly believes in and advocates for a priority in adoption: first, reunify. Second, seek relatives. Third, find a domestic option for permanency. And, finally, pursue intercountry adoption. A child should never “age out” of orphanage or foster care to no one. Neither should they be removed from biological family prematurely, or without merit. Children are worth the investment of time to make sure every adoption is legal, ethical and in the child’s best interest.

Yes, there are many children who need adoption right now. There is an immediacy, an urgency to their need that often implies a speedy process. After all, if the end result is the creation of a family, shouldn’t we should get to that place as quickly as possible? Well, yes, we should get there as quickly as is possible.

We must also remember that an adoptive placement is not the ending of the story. It is just the beginning. It is foundational, and both parent and child should come to that first meeting with eyes wide open, as thoroughly prepared as possible, because the goal is for the placement to not only be permanent, but to result in a healthy, strong family that will see the best in each other, love all the time, forgive when it isn’t easy, laugh and play together, and create a home that welcomes and celebrates differences. That is nothing short of a miracle, and it takes a little time.

What questions do you have, or would you like to see WACAP address, concerning foster care and adoption (both domestic and international)? Comment below or email to and we’ll blog answers throughout 2017.


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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Expectations: How I Messed Up Everything

At my home this holiday season, we are lucky to be enjoying an extended visit by my daughter and two-year-old granddaughter. It’s great and messy and fun…and exhausting. Parenthood isn’t wasted on the young.

As we put up Christmas decorations, everything changed. We normally do not have an inquisitive two-year-old explorer wandering around our house, and on more than one occasion in recent weeks we have learned new methods for child-proofing. Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention.


“We’ve discovered that our new ‘normal’ involves her pretending to be a cat and covering our long-suffering dog with dish towels.”

So, we bought too many of those inexpensive shatterproof plastic ornaments. We hung lights up high, and we chose an out-of-reach wreath rather than a traditional tree. Many of our nostalgic, and breakable, items remain in storage. We’ll see them next year. This year, we’d rather enjoy our granddaughter than stress about things getting broken.

We’re not perfect. We often express frustration. We are a work in progress.

Here’s the point. Our expectations are where they need to be. We expect her to learn by touching. We expect her to lack self-control.  We expect to do a lot of cleaning up and still have a messy house. Hopefully, the frustration is kept to a minimum. Memories and laughter win out.

As a grandfather, I get this. As a dad, I fear that I messed it all up. I wish I could go back in time and sit my younger self down for a long talk about expectations as a prospective adoptive parent. Here’s what I would say:

  • Let go of your fantasies about parenting. Forget the game-winning touchdowns, and set aside the wedding aisle. Those ideas are about you, not them. Be open to what your child’s individual passions bring. You’ll all be happier, and healthier.
  • Understand that children with trauma backgrounds develop at a different pace, behind in one area and drastically advanced in others. Say it aloud with me, “this is o.k.” Study your child, and learn their behaviors. Then, you should be the one to adjust accordingly.
  • Never, at any point, should you ever compare your family to others in word, thought or deed. Just be. Enjoy each other. Celebrate your unique identity as a family. Celebrate the diverse cultures that may be represented among your family members. Acknowledge and accept that success may be defined differently in your family than in another.
  • Be ready to acknowledge your loss, as well as your child’s, of the biological connection between parent and child. This is subtle, and powerful. I ‘get’ my biological daughter in a way that isn’t possible with my adopted children. She is wired very similar to me, for obvious reasons. I can’t ignore this. I can’t be frustrated by it. I should respect it and embrace the mystery of it, reveling in the opportunity to discover what inspires each of my children, and how their biology is shaping them.
  • Seek out the voices of other members of the adoption triad. Find adult adoptees and listen intently. As primary experts on the subject, there is so much to learn from their stories and perspectives.
  • Stop trying to fix everything. This, I confess, has been the hardest for me. We can’t fix their loss, we can’t erase their pain. All we can do is be present and offer comfort and acceptance. Sometimes, our efforts to ‘fix’ everything does nothing more than communicate to our children that they are broken (sigh).

Like I said, I wish I could go back. I can’t. But I can go forward, and that is something I am willing to do. I find a great deal of comfort in this quote by the late Dr. Maya Angelou, wherein she said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better. You should not be judged for the person that you were, but for the person you are trying to be.”

Here’s to 2017!

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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Sharing our Knowledge, Engaging our Partners

How does WACAP promote positive outcomes for children placed in adoptive families?

This question was proposed to WACAP by China’s Center for Child Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) earlier this fall. More specifically, they wanted to know how to evaluate children and prospective adoptive parents in order to ensure successful domestic placements within China, and they wanted WACAP to share what we have learned in our 40 years of work. WACAP’s Clinical Director, Zoila Lopez, reflects on this experience and the response she received as she traveled to China in November:

Of course, WACAP was honored by the CCCWA’s invitation and we quickly accepted. Then, I went to work with WACAP’s Director of Social Services, Elana Roschy, developing a curriculum that would effectively compress four decades of expertise into a digestible and relevant training. We identified several subject areas:

  • How to thoroughly evaluate the needs of children
  • How complex developmental trauma informs so much of a child’s experience
  • How to properly assess and train prospective adoptive parents
  • The important role adoptive parents play in their child’s self-image, healing, and overall success

I arrived in Shanghai at the end of November, almost one month from the date we received the invitation from China . I was nervous, but buzzing with the energy such an opportunity ignites.


Lopez visits a child care facility with Chinese colleagues

Since finding out my aunt was adopted, I have lived and breathed adoption. Personally, as a foster and adoptive parent; as well as professionally through my studies, and my work with foster care children, birth families, and adoptive families across the country. I have always hoped to have an influence that could improve adoption processes in our country and around the world. Now here I was, in China, getting ready to provide training to a group of professionals that would directly impact the way China conducts domestic adoptions and provides services for the children in their care.

Domestic adoption is gaining traction in several cultures around the world, and WACAP is privileged to help encourage this development. Temporary care of children in foster families is an increasingly viable option in some countries, and brings about new challenges and learning opportunities. On the day of training I stood in front of a room full of engaged professionals at the National Center for Management Development at Wuxi, in China’s Jiangsu Province. They were all engaged and eager to learn. Any amount of nervousness I had subsided through my interactions with the CCCWA’s Deputy Director General of Social Work and her staff. My new Chinese friends were incredibly welcoming and kind, willing to share our collective knowledge in order to improve outcomes for children.


Sharing WACAP’s knowledge and experience with our partners in China

I received thoughtful questions that shared challenges and sought advice on how best to handle difficult cases involving Chinese foster parents and the children in their care. Their stories and questions helped me realize anew that the needs of children and parents are universal. While every case is different, there are common threads that unite the adoption community across countries, cultures and language barriers. The training was a success. Those in attendance, including CCCWA staff, were very generous and invited us to return and provide additional training in Beijing next year. I left motivated to continue this work with families in need of support, training, and/or consultation.

I am incredibly grateful for my role at WACAP! I get to do my life’s work; meeting and engaging adoptive families, adult adoptees, and adoption workers in our country and abroad. I get to live my dream of helping the adoption community become the network of people and support systems our children need us to be.


About WACAP’s Clinical Director, Zoila Lopez: Zoila  joined WACAP in 2016 as Clinical Director. She is an adoptive mom, a former foster parent, and brings to her new role an extensive background of work as a therapist and adoption coach to support all members of the adoption triad.

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Guest Post by Your Adoption Finance Coach: Our Work With WACAP Families …

Kelly Ellison, adoptive mom and founder of Your Adoption Finance Coach, reflects on why she’s thankful this holiday season, and WACAP families top the list. (WACAP is committed to building strong families; partnering with Your Adoption Finance Coach, we offer adopting families coaching support and resources to help them become financially prepared for their adoption, and as a result, even more equipped to focus on the child waiting to be welcomed home.)

adoption-finance-coach2A season of celebration and thanks is upon us. As we’ve met with family and friends, and prepare for the holiday gatherings yet to come, we have the opportunity to reflect on the things that we are grateful for, this year and years past. I’m particularly grateful of our work with our WACAP families. Let’s face it, adoption isn’t easy; it requires a strength of heart and dedication that we always find when working with WACAP families.

The financial aspect of an adoption can be one of the most challenging. Our role is to help WACAP families create a comprehensive financial plan for their adoption. Over the years, we’ve seen many WACAP families meet this challenge head on and succeed in bringing their family together forever. Some of the most successful families choose to diversify their approach, whether it’s a crowd funding, grants or special events, it’s never one thing! Working with families one-on-one, our coaches help them to establish the amount of money they will need for their adoption and how to put all the pieces together. Typically, a family will end up receiving a loan and a grant and will then fundraise or receive a family gift for the rest. For those not comfortable raising money, the Adoption Tax Credit serves as a possible refund after the adoption is complete which can apply toward a loan they may have taken out in the beginning.

In our work with WACAP these past couple years, we’ve worked with over 75 WACAP families and each one is unique and special! Your Adoption Finance Coach shares WACAP’s mission to find families for each and every child – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, number of siblings, or special medical needs. When we work with a family we never give up, and no matter what the circumstances, we strive to find the financial resources that will help families solve the cost-related challenges.

If you’re adopting through WACAP and you haven’t had an opportunity to work with us, we encourage you to ask your case manager how to get in touch with one of our coaches to see how we can assist you with your adoption financial plan.

adoption-finance-coach-wacap1About Your Adoption Finance Coach:
Your Adoption Finance Coach offers online resources, training and one-on-one coaching helping adoptive families create and implement a financial plan for completing their adoptions. Kelly Ellison is the founder/CEO and is also an adoptive parent. She has over 25-years of experience in the non-profit sector raising millions of dollars for causes from the arts to the environment. Ms. Ellison brings her expertise to the adoption industry creating the adoption finance coaching system which services over 1,200 families from over 25 adoption agencies and professionals across the country.

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