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.

Posted in Adoption, Domestic Adoption, Facts and Figures, Foster Care, From the CEO, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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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A Tenacity of Spirit: WACAP Staff Share About Recent Visit to Haiti

Below, WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions Mary Moo and Haiti Program Manager Maya Andreic share about their visit to Haiti in November. Traveling after Hurricane Matthew, they discuss why processes in Haiti (including adoption) and recuperation efforts overall can take longer than many expect, especially in the face of an urgent need. Although life is difficult in Haiti, November’s visit made clear that with the many challenges, there is also a strength of spirit … and unyielding resolve to move forward.

Hurricanes, floods, elections and “how long?” These are the themes of many conversations we had during our recent trip to Haiti. The trip came on the heels of hurricane Matthew as well as unprecedented rain from a separate storm front that brought 30 inches of rain to the northern area of Cap Haitian.

We visited with a crèche (COTP) in the Cap Haitian area as well as one (FEJ) in the surrounding area of Port Au Prince. In both areas, the conversations were about the challenges of local people and families due to the many natural disasters that impact their lives.

Four Haitian children walk down the steps at their orphanage supported by their caregiver during WACAP’s fall 2016 visit.

Children at their orphanage taking a step at a time with their caregiver’s support

Both these crèches (orphanages) are part of larger organizations that are focused on improving the conditions and quality of life for families in their local communities. It’s because of the help that they provide in these communities that they find out about children who are abandoned or whose families can no longer continue to care for them. There are no government run orphanages in Haiti, so their only chance for survival is either with a person within their community who takes them in and when this doesn’t happen, with a private crèche like FEJ or COTP.

We heard from both organizations that it isn’t unusual for birth family to bring a child to them and ask to relinquish the child due to the challenges they are facing (likely caused by a natural disaster or family crisis). However, instead of just taking the child, the organizations first talk with the family and visit their home to see if providing help might make the difference in having the child remain with their family. In many cases a helping hand is provided either through food, through education or training and in some cases the simple act of helping them to contact a relative in a distant area. This help can improve the family’s condition or bring them hope for the future to the point that they feel they can provide for their child. We all know that there are many children where a helping hand to the family isn’t enough for the child to remain with the birth family. These are the children that find their way into our lives and become ours.

What impressed us during our visit is the tenacity of Haitians. Whether it is tenacity to make a trip over roads that are now riverbeds, travel further for food, or to figure out solutions that might make a difference between parenting or not.

This tenacious spirit does not change the fact that life in Haiti is very hard. There are many children in Haiti who need families… and there are a lot of families in the U.S. and elsewhere who want to adopt them.

So why does it take so long? Because of the level of poverty in Haiti, the damage and destruction these natural disasters and epidemics result in takes much longer in Haiti to recuperate from. Every single challenge creates a delay in the process flow of everyday life and businesses … and adoptions are no exception.

However, this nation keeps getting up after each knock down, and continues where it left off. This is how things move forward: Children do get adopted and do join their forever families. But it takes a lot of time, and a lot of patience and faith.

Their backs to the camera, four Haitian children walk down the steps at their orphanage with their caregiver.

Children’s clothing hangs to dry at this orphanage after Hurricane Matthew damaged the washers and dryer beyond repair.

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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Forty Years Ago and Today, “Giving Tuesday”

Two parents look happily at their son; part of a graphic inviting others to join WACAP in giving children the hope of a family through a donation on Giving Tuesday.40 years ago a group of adoptive families began meeting in living rooms and around kitchen tables. They traded stories, offered support to one another, and talked about what could be done to help the children who continued to wait for the love and stability they needed. Out of these conversations, WACAP was born.

Over the next 40 years, we went from placing sisters from U.S. foster care with an adoptive family, to working with children in need from Korea, India, Colombia and a dozen other countries. We delivered medical supplies, food, and education to over 200,000 children around the world. We started finding families for children with special needs from China and partnering with our local NBC affiliate and community to find families for children in U.S. foster care. It’s been an adventure every step of the way, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Now, as Giving Tuesday rolls around and we near the end of our 40th year (and counting), we’re looking back at what we’ve accomplished. 11,500 children have come home to WACAP families. That’s 11,500 lives changed forever. We can’t wait to see whose lives we touch over the next 40 years. Children are still waiting, and once again we’re calling on our families, friends and supporters to help.

Celebrate Giving Tuesday with a celebratory gift to WACAP!

Your gift will be used to help us travel to meet children in need, prepare materials necessary for their adoption, find their families, and bring them home. Let’s meet the next 11,500 WACAP families, and let’s do it together.

Blue donation button

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“Adoption is a ‘second birth'”

Daniel was born in China in 1996, and was nearly 6 years old when his parents, Pam and Thomas, adopted him through WACAP. Now 20 years old, Daniel looks back at where his story began. Although his journey has not been without questions, he has always had friends and family along the way, reminding him about unconditional love and what home means.
Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your story.

Day of adoption; child between his parents in ChinaA common conversation starter for college students is our diverse backgrounds. When people ask me about my cultural heritage, my conversations goes something like this:

“I was adopted from China.”

“You were adopted? That’s so cool! What is that like?”

This reaction never fails to amuse me. I don’t really see anything particularly cool about being adopted. That would be like me telling a non-adoptee, “Wow, you were born? That’s really cool, what’s that like?”

The origins of an adoptee and non-adoptee are more or less the same. None of us get to choose our starting lines, or the families that we are born into.

To me, being selected for adoption is like a “second birth.” I didn’t choose the adoptee life; my family quite literally chose me.

Although I stand behind the same starting line as everyone else, I can tell you that my journey isn’t the same. And it is only fitting I share my story with you now, as November is National Adoption Month.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to never have to see color. Having a diverse group of friends was normal for me, and I was never aware of any negative or complicated implications regarding race toward me or anyone else I knew.

I never felt different because my family is white. Everyone I went to school with knew I was adopted, but I never felt ostracized or discriminated against because of it.

It wasn’t until I went back to China to adopt my little sister, who is not biologically related to me, that I started to notice and view the world in its true, complex spectrum of colors.

The people in China would look on with interest or confusion as they saw a Chinese boy joyfully and casually walking alongside two white people. It was because I was a foreigner, since it felt more like a vacation to me than some epiphany where I was returning to the motherland, “my home.”

I wasn’t really “Chinese” to feel a connection to my country other than birthright because my upbringing in America molded me into an Asian-American. The battle of my duality was further exacerbated when I went to a predominantly Asian and white high school.

I wasn’t “Asian” enough to perfectly fit in with the Asian crowd, and I was only white in culture, but not in color. Being an adoptee made me a different brand of Asian-American than my peers. I was on a balancing beam, and I could never fall to one side or the other. I would always be somewhere in between.

All I wanted was to relate to my Asian-American peers.

I longed to feel like I understood all the jokes about growing up Asian.

I remember I asked an Asian friend of mine to have her mom make me fried rice so I could know what an Asian childhood tasted like.

At that point, I actively tried to seek out people that looked like me.

I would go to lengths to befriend other Asians and try to dub them a surrogate family of sorts, even calling some of them “big sister” or some other familial title.

It was through them that I could feel some sort of artificial kinship and slightly satiate the curiosity of what it might have been like to have Asian siblings back in China.

Wondering about those “what if’s” does not consume me, but it persists now and then.

When I look in the mirror and try to piece together if I had my birth mother’s eyes or if the gray streaks that run through my hair are because of my birth father, I’ll never know.

It is bittersweet knowing the closest thing I have to knowing anything about my birth parents is myself, but I am not making it a lifelong mission to find them, and I’ve accepted the fact I may never get answers to questions I have.

One rewarding thing about being adopted is finding other adoptees. We often become quick kindred spirits with one another. They are a rare coalition of people that can fundamentally understand me in ways nobody else can.

But it doesn’t always take an adoptee or adoptee family to understand the notion of unconditional love.

One of my biggest role models and a “big sister,” Riyanka, gave me a surprise t-shirt as a gift before she graduated high school. The shirt read that “family is more than blood.”

I am a living embodiment of this quote. Blood is something that can be diluted, but love can’t. That is where family stems from — an unconditional love and acceptance from the people that happen to enter your life.

I am fortunate enough to know that love in limitless capacity.

To my adoptee family: mom, dad, Ty, Meg, Mark and Lola, I love you all and am thankful for each of you. This is something I never express enough.

To my birth parents who have made the biggest sacrifice of not getting to watch your child grow up: I carry the burden of not ever being able to thank you or tell you that I am living a happy life.

To anyone I have ever called “family:” know that I love you too, and you have also played a part in my understanding of who I am.

When people ask me where my home is, I respond with home is wherever my precious people are. Being adopted, I don’t place much value in one geographical location; rather, I find home with the people that love me.

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Shining a Light on Adoption: “The Capacity for Love”

photo of lightbulb with spotlight and light reflections, some in shape of heartsSaturday, November, 19 is National Adoption Day. It’s a day that shines a light on adoption, celebrates the children and teens who now have a permanent family, and raises awareness for the children in state foster care across the U.S. still waiting for a family.  

On this day, WACAP — joined by hundreds of friends and supporters at our Ruby Gala and Auction — will be celebrating 40 years of helping children in state foster care find the stability, love and permanency of family.

Below, a member of WACAP’s US Kids staff, offers his thoughts about National Adoption Month, and what we need to remember on this day.

National Adoption Month is instrumental in bringing to our hearts and our minds the needs of children looking for a family. This year’s particular focus on adolescents helps remind us as well that you never outgrow the need for support. While this is most assuredly a heartening message to see go out, the fact remains that such an ephemeral spotlight cannot ably highlight the needs of these teens. They need stability every day, and a family for life.

As WACAP’s foster care licensor, I support families adopting a child from state foster care, helping them through the process of becoming foster care licensed in their home state. I have the dual role of assisting foster/adoptive parents not only to attain, but also adapt their licenses as they grow to see their abilities match the needs of a greater demographic of waiting children and adolescents. Families frequently find that once they get past the paperwork, the process is not nearly as frightening as they might once have thought, and these same families come to feel they may be open to a child older than they may once have considered. I love seeing families expand their horizons, and—working with our case managers—I am happy to adjust the licenses to grow alongside the families.

I receive numerous daily announcements of teens needing placements and looking for families of their own. Monthly consortiums with state social workers and staffing meetings also highlight teens hoping to become part of a stable home. While there are dozens of families in our program, only a scant handful are open to teens, and the number tapers off as the age goes up. However, families who may never have considered older children often find themselves drawn to a profile for one reason or another, and learn that while a teen or adolescent may not have been what they were expecting, the capacity for love is every bit as great.

A final point we can remember today is that a child’s simply being on the verge of adulthood does not mean that child is ready to leave the foster/adopt system. Children of all ages need support and security to help them thrive, and many people may not realize that even legal adults can and do get adopted! Adolescent and adult adoptees may have a more extensive backstory before you came into their lives, but it does not make them any less a part of the family. Nor any less in need of one.

Grayscale Photo of WACAP Foster Care Licensor, US Kids ProgramAbout WACAP’s US Kids’ Foster Care Licensor, Logan Bussey: Logan joined WACAP in the spring of 2016, a “proud US Kids program licensor since Star Wars Day (May 4th) 2016,” he notes. Before joining WACAP’s staff, Logan earned his M.A. in psychology and spent two years in the social work sector. Working with families to become foster care licensed in their state, Logan is looking forward to the impact he can make in his role – and how he can help the children and teens in state care find the permanency they need.

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Proposed Changes to Intercountry Adoption Rules by the U.S. Department of State

Most of us agree on the major things. It’s the details that often trip us.  Such is the case with recently proposed regulatory amendments for the Intercountry Adoption process by the U.S. Department of State, the central authority for adoption in the United States.  Here’s what we know:

  • Everyone agrees that children should remain with biological family members when possible.
  • Everyone agrees that children should remain within their culture and country of origin when possible, through domestic adoption options.
  • And, most everyone agrees that when these two things cannot happen safely, intercountry adoption can be a valuable method for connecting children with a permanent, loving family in which to grow, thrive and reach their greatest potential.

How these ideals are achieved, however, is a different question, and there are plenty of opinions. Which brings us back to the Department of State’s proposals, consisting of twenty-two pages of fine-print details on how to achieve the above goals.  Some of the most provocative additions include increased training requirements for prospective adoptive parents, amplified regulatory oversight at a country-specific level, guidelines to assess and disclose fees, and obligations for supervision of foreign entities providing adoption services.
WACAP graphic showing people connecting with the words
Many are concerned that these might have the unintended consequence of further slowing the adoption process for children. Thankfully, the Department of State has invited comments from agencies, organizations and individuals in response to the draft regulations and has extended the deadline for commenting through November 22nd.  WACAP has been carefully reviewing the proposed changes and will be providing thoughtful and constructive feedback, item by item. Some, we welcome.  Others, we strongly oppose.

If you desire to engage with our governmental agencies on intercountry adoption issues, we offer some possible options:

And, since November is National Adoption Month, we encourage you to share your WACAP adoption stories, and shed light on the following facts:

  1. The vast majority of intercountry adoptions occurring are very successful.  See some of these faces here.
  2. Today, however, children continue to wait for families with no option for reunification or domestic adoption in their country of origin. They need us to act now!

These children, like those in U.S. foster care, are the motivation behind WACAP’s energy and passion. Our desire is to find permanent, safe, loving, and skilled parents for them.  We change the world by changing their world, connecting each child with a family in which they can celebrate their unique history and culture while discovering the promise of a brighter future.  Find out more about adopting.  Maybe they are waiting for you.

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.

Posted in Adoption, Call to Action, From the CEO, International Adoption | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment