Save the Date for a Fun and Inspiring Event!

auction_save_date

WACAP Invites you to celebrate the 40th Anniversary Ruby Gala Children’s Hope Auction.

Share in our event experience as you celebrate 40 years of success and stories!

Join us at the Seattle Marriott Bellevue, located in downtown Bellevue, on Saturday, November 19th at 6 p.m.

Registration opens Tuesday, September 27, and will be available on our website.

 If you are interested in volunteering, procuring or donating items for this event, please contact our Event Coordinator, Tami Music at WACAPAuction@wacap.org.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, Celebrations, Domestic Adoption, Events, International Adoption, Philanthropy, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And What a Difference We Can Make

Another child captured the hearts of WACAP staff last month in China, when they visited his orphanage. Thinking he might be overlooked, the 8-year-old shared through tears that he was afraid he’d never have a family: a fear or reality no child should have to face.

This 8-year-old and his friends – like so many children growing up without permanency – each have a story they need told, and a story they need changed.

Because the need is great, so is the opportunity. Every child captures our hearts, and what a difference we can make together.

Why Support WACAP?

Why Support WACAP?

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Don’t Ignore Me

He was standing there, just as we entered the room. This was a second orphanage for our visit, and we were excited to deliver gifts on behalf of a WACAP family to their soon-to-be daughter. He stood vigilant, though, hands steadying his stance via the supporting bars of his physical therapy equipment, watching us. It was his perch for keeping an attentive eye on the goings on.

We went to work, but he kept catching my eye. We delivered gifts and learned of updates to share with this sweet child’s American family. We began to meet new children and learn their stories. Down syndrome, digestive tract challenges, lower body impairment existed alongside bright and inquisitive minds. These issues were easily observable. But you keep looking, when a child is right in front of you. When you meet their eyes, their story becomes so much more than a diagnosis. Their challenge is simply their challenge, and we all have one (at least). It isn’t their soul or their passion. It isn’t their potential. And, as the parade of children continued, there he stood, watching over the proceedings from his makeshift observation platform. He leaned in at times, scrutinizing notes that he couldn’t read or observing photography and videography capturing his friends’ faces.

And he began to cry.

The extended hand of child in a Chinese orphanage during drawing activity, WACAP visit August 2018

This 8-year-old boy asked WACAP staff not to forget him … because all he wants is a family.

Big, fearful tears rolled down his face and dripped onto his shirtfront, continuing on to the mats covering the floor. With no provocation, we thought. This got his caregivers’ attention, as they are a valiant and attentive bunch. They love these children, and want the best for them. They want families for these children. Good ones. Chinese or American families does not matter, as love knows no borders. They ran to him with a caucophony of exclamations in Mandarin. His sad reality is the duality of holding the attention of so many, while feeling so forgotten. This is what waiting for a family looks like.

Through interpreters, we learned that he was terrified we would skip over him. That we would ignore him. “He desperately wants a family,” they told us, “and he is afraid you don’t want to talk to him. He is afraid he won’t be able to have a family.”

Consider for a moment: the people you believe to be your only shot for a family, these people, are here in your room, so close you could touch them. And they are forgetting about you. They don’t care about your story, and your dream of a family is fading.

Can you imagine?

I was there, I’ve met several children like him before, and it still doesn’t seem real. Their sweaty grip on that hope yet to be realized. The fear that their chance is slipping away. The tears that they cannot hold back any longer. He is waiting, and so many like him. Perhaps, he waits for you.

During this trip, I have met China’s boys who continue to wait for families. In the U.S., a number of individuals still may not be aware of the many boys in China who wait for adoption, believing that China’s orphanages are primarily populated by girls, due to the historical one child policy (recently relaxed). Boys have always been a part of China’s orphan story, and last year, WACAP placed as many boys as girls.

These children are staggering in their resilience. In this case, an 8-year-old was advocating for himself the only way he knew how. His passion placed him next in line. This boy who struggles just to walk, was showing off, climbing stairs for us and eventually laughing at the time-lapse video of him using his walker, speeding him up to Olympic quickness. After a brief time of focused attention, he began to relax into these Americans who finally paid attention to him. We saw him, not just his diagnosis. We saw his determination and drive. We saw his sensitivity and humor, and fell in love with his smile.

Boy-In-Chinese-Orphanage-WACAP-Visit-August-2016(1)

He is waiting. His friends are waiting. Maybe his story has stirred something in you. I implore you to feed this interest of yours. Listen to it and discover how you might completely change the trajectory for a child’s life, through your activism, volunteerism, or philanthropy. Follow it to where it leads you, even if all the way to China.

Help us tell his story. Help us change his story. I invite you to contact WACAP and learn how you can help show him the way home.

Call us at 1-800-732-1887 or email wacap@wacap.org to learn more about this young man and his friends.


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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Love Knows No Borders

As I write this, I am exhausted from a busy August day in China, getting to know new friends in Huaihua City in the Hunan province. There are three of us on this trip: myself, WACAP’s China Program Director Elizabeth Rose, and volunteer physician Berkeley Powell. We are led by WACAP’s China representative Michael Huang. WACAP is launching a new orphanage partnership here, and there’s no better way to get to know new Hunan friends than over shared meals and spending time with children.

WACAP_Huaihua_Sunset

Sunset Over Huaihua, Hunan Province

Breathing was a challenge many times today, not just due to the sticky heat but because of the weight of the futures that hung in our designated room heavier than the humidity. The parade of children came to greet us, and they were breathtaking. I believe I met your child today.

He held my hand with a firm grip, and later we rolled a ball back and forth.

She smiled at me from behind her nanny’s leg.

He warmed to me after his visit, when he returned to the room a bit jealous of the attention given to the other children.

And your daughter, well she couldn’t stand me, and screamed when I tried to take photos of her for you. I gave the camera over to her nannies, though, and she did fine.

I was filled with hope for the young toddler with Down syndrome, knowing he will find love with your family. As we discussed when we met the city’s Civil Affairs directors, he will know a love which knows no borders.

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WACAP Visits an Orphanage in Hunan Province

These orphanage and civil affairs leaders knew of WACAP’s reputation in China, a reputation earned over years of work by WACAP’s terrific staff and the endless line of WACAP families since 1990 who have travelled to China to create or grow their families. And I thought of you. You may have travelled to China previously to meet your child. Perhaps you will travel soon. Others reading this post may never set foot in China, but are passionate about the children here without families, and you are helping to support WACAP financially in order to end their wait.

WACAP_Great_wall

The Great Wall of China

I bragged on you all today to my new friends. I told them that you are working and learning and ready to be matched with your sons or daughters. You aren’t daunted by medical diagnoses or developmental delays. You are ready for all that has been left in trauma’s wake. You know that WACAP stands ready to help you prepare and to support you after placement. You love these children, will ensure they know of their country and cherish their cultural heritage.

Perhaps you are still waiting to be found, but you are out there.

And I met your child today.


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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Across Continents, The Threads That Connect Us

The more I explore the world, the more I realize how small it is. We are countries and cultures full of people pursuing the very same things: enrichment through productive work, meaning through spirituality, and connection through relationships. Though unique in the expression and pursuit of these desires, we are all alike.image

Take Claire, for instance. She coordinates international adoptions for one of WACAP’s NGO partners in Taiwan. As we talked over tea, she asked questions about the impact of birthland tours on adopted persons. She wondered how adoptive families were able to manage the vast needs brought to them by children from hard places, and we discussed trauma’s impact, and the challenge of establishing “felt trust” within adoptive families. Later, she showed me around the conference room dotted with framed photos of children who once lived in her orphanage but now live with American families. She mentioned names and knew grandparents. She cared deeply for these, her children, and kept up with them through social workers’ and families’ post placement reports and photos — items provided after the red tape, legalities and immigration work of intercountry adoption had been finalized. This was a profound reminder of how important these post-adoption reports are, ensuring transparency and accountability to children’s countries of origin. More than that, they are the thread that connects hearts across continents. The words and pictures are not simply filed away and checked off a list. They are poured over, and cherished by previous caregivers as if letters from home. They are that.

imageI also met Frank, another champion for Taiwan’s children. We crossed paths twice in one day, as he guided us through his organization, giving us insight into how they care for children in the morning, then again as he walked a WACAP family through the immigration process at the American Institute in Taiwan. It was terrific to meet and connect with a WACAP couple at the unveiling of their family, and to now know the dedicated professionals in another time zone who so carefully consider the adjustment of a child to her new parents in those amazingly important, but often awkward first days of adoption. While every adoption story is unique, what it always comes down to is that a child needed a family.

We Americans struggle with the problem of children living without families in our nation, just like the Taiwanese or any other culture. Across cultures and countries, none of us have fully figured out the pursuit of connections through healthy relationships, sadly. But we imagepress on, and we do better as we know better. Maybe, when together we begin to acknowledge the vast problem of our world’s orphan crisis, we might begin to better understand the vast quantity of creative solutions. We might decide to roll up our sleeves and get to work for those children I have met on this trip to Taiwan, who continue to wait for a connection to a permanent, healthy, nurturing and safe family. I believe we can do this, but we must do it together. Our team is strong, in the U.S. and in Taiwan, in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. Come join us.

Learn about waiting children here, donating to support the work of WACAP here, or how to start the adoption process here.


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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Tell a Story, Change a Story.

I’m often asked about the specifics of how adoption has changed over the years. Like most questions about adoption, the answer begins with a qualifier, “It’s complicated.” At the end of the answer, we’re left with the reality of children who continue to wait in imperfect systems of temporary care, both in the U.S. and around the world. They wait for parents to step forward and say, “You are more than your history, more than your diagnosis, more than your current limitations. I commit to you, and I am yours forever.”

pie chart showing two thirds of the matches of children and families occur through WACAP's "Family Finder's" programThese children bring with them a history, a story that is filled with real people and experiences. Far from the beginning of their stories, these children bring along their past, marked by memories and complications and trauma. One of our favorite tasks at WACAP is the heart of our “Family Finders” program, telling those stories and finding families for every child. We have a team of dedicated staff and volunteers who can bring a child to life from the child’s government file and a few photos.

Before a family ever submits an application, or pays a fee, WACAP is at work on behalf of these children. We travel to meet them and learn their stories. We collaborate with the appropriate adoption authority in each country to determine how we can best tell their stories. We cut through red tape to obtain permissions. It takes time and effort. We then edit any facts, photos and video we may have into portraits of children who are more than the data found in a file folder. Thanks to our volunteers and staff, these children become real.

And families respond.

Almost two-thirds of the matches that occur within the scope of WACAP’s work are a result of our Family Finding program. The other third happen through a more traditional route, where a child is referred by a country’s central adoption authority to a family with a completed homestudy and who’s approved into an adoption program.

In an email recently received in our office, a prospective parent had this to say, “Thank you for all the info, and I will say that my spouse and I seem to be quite smitten with [the boys.] I know it’s very early, but with the one short online video [we are] quite emotional. We will be in touch shortly.”

Once families “meet” these children, they begin to see the potential beyond the past history. They find the intersection between a child’s needs and their abilities. They begin to picture what is possible. At this point, WACAP professionals and the prospective parents get to work in preparation and study for a future adoption. Families pay for this guidance and education provided by agencies like WACAP.

But the storytelling, that happens because of donors. Adoption fees don’t cover this family finding work. The adoption world is changing, and the majority of our placements happen because a family responds to an individual, waiting child. Adoption isn’t for everybody, but every person can help to forever change the future for a child, or children, who are waiting. Your donation to WACAP’s “Every Child Fund” can transform a life.

Help us tell their stories. Help us change their stories.


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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Family Fun Takes Flight


Thank you to everyone who joined us for yesterday’s annual Family Fun Day! Seattle area families gathered at the Museum of Flight for an afternoon of learning, connecting and celebrating.


WACAP CEO Greg Eubanks reminded us that when we’re overwhelmed by chaos and fear in the world, adoptive families are a symbol of hope. We’re so grateful to the thousands of families who have kept WACAP going for 40 years, resulting in more than 11,500 children finding loving and supportive families.


To celebrate this milestone, WACAP’s Vice President of Development Mary Duncan led a rousing “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long before the 40
th anniversary cakes were cut.

 

We’re looking forward to more family fun in Wisconsin and New York—details to come!!

Special thank you to our event sponsor, Wizards of the Coast!

Wizardslogo

 

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Welcome Home, Maya Lin!

It’s a summer of firsts for two-year-old Maya Lin, who was adopted through WACAP last month. Maya Lin’s mom describes her as “adventurous, independent and smart” and is enjoying watching her get to know her older sister Riley, who was also adopted from China.

Congratulations to this family and welcome home, Maya Lin!

A photo of a toddler girl amongst statues of children

Maya Lin explores China, shortly after meeting her family.

 

A photo of a toddler girl standing in a cozy playroom

Maya Lin at home.

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What Now?

Our society is facing a time of crisis. In the wake of the violent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, both of them killed by public servants sworn to protect them, I can’t help but think about transracial adoptive families, especially those raising black children, and how events such as these shape the way we parent. I believe it is safe to say that while the world is not necessarily a safe place, it is significantly more dangerous for people of color. We’re also faced with the concept of responding to violence with violence, as we learned the news of shots fired at a Dallas protest, killing 5 police officers and wounding 7 others.

Holding HandsIn the face of our current reality, what should we now do in response? What can be learned from these situations? Below is a list of ways you can respond to recent events, celebrate your child’s unique heritage, and prepare them for the realities of a world not quite prepared to ensure their safety.

  • Talk about recent events openly and honestly in an age appropriate manner. Acknowledge your emotions and response to these news stories. Ask questions of your child about their reactions: ‘What are your friends saying about this?’ ‘What do you think?’ ‘How do you feel about our differences?’ Discuss, and participate in, healthy outlets for such challenging emotions.
  • If you haven’t already, do everything you can to learn about the concept of privilege, prejudice, bias, and discrimination. Recognize and acknowledge your privilege. You will not be able to help your child if you are incapable of recognizing the differences between your reality and theirs.
  • Prepare your children to encounter a world that isn’t necessarily friendly. Let them know that racism does exist, that we do not live in a post-racial society, that there is no such thing as “color-blindness”, and prepare them to manage micro and all-out macro aggressions.
  • Educate yourself. Talk to people of color, get the perspective of those that know what it is like to be black, read articles such as The Black Male Code. Do not turn a blind eye to the realities of the world in which your child lives now and will need to navigate independently in the future.
  • Find a tribe that “gets” your kids and the challenges they will meet. Avoid people who are not willing to validate the challenges experienced by people of color. Find positive role models who share your child’s race.
  • Pay attention to the voices of transracial adoptees. They know what it is like to grow up with parents they do not look like or can understand first hand their experiences as children of color.
  • If you haven’t already, join some transracial adoption groups online and/or in your area. There is such value to finding people who understand what it is like to parent transracially, and your child could also directly benefit from such interactions.

Adoption is a beautiful thing. Transracial adoption is also beautiful. Our differences weave together to create a new story of belonging, acceptance and hope for a better future – for all of us.


WACAP_Zoila_Lopez

About WACAP’s Clinical Director, Zoila Lopez: Zoila  recently joined WACAP 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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Let It Go

Think for a minute about children from hard places: institutions, the foster care system, orphanages, and abuse or neglect histories. At best, the family into which they were born cannot care for them. At worst, those are the very ones causing them harm. Are these children lucky? Even once they are adopted?

We sometimes like to think so, but the legal act of adoption, though transformational for children, can never erase their history. This is a tough truth for those of us who are adoptive parents, isn’t it? We want to wipe it all away and make everything better.

We can’t.

We try, though. We try so hard, particularly we dads. We have a drive to fix everything; even if we deny it or try to hide this fact, we think that surely there is a fix for every problem. If only we think hard enough or are smart enough, we just might figure it out. I could write years of blog posts confessing all the times I have suffered under the weight of this misguided trait. Well meaning? Yes. Just not particularly helpful in all situations. Like for our children.

Fortune cookie with message "correction does much, but encouragement everything."

Not being adopted myself, but a (struggling) parent to three children of adoption, I imagine they don’t really like the feeling of needing to be fixed. Just maybe, this leaves them feeling broken. But we American parents want our children to shape up, behave, get over it and live up to their potential. I believe that most parents (adoptive, biological or otherwise) don’t see their children as broken. We see them hurting, and that’s simply unbearable.

So what can we do?

There are no quick fixes. There are, unfortunately, no moderately unhurried fixes, either. Just the excruciatingly sluggish process of our children slowly waking up to the reality that they are now safe. They are loved. They are in a family who is permanent. This takes months, or years.*

In the meantime, we must, as parents, do a better job of connecting with our children, particularly those we have adopted from hard places. Life has roughed them up, and often important adults have proven not to be very trustworthy. Children don’t need to be corrected as much as we think they do; it’s time to let go of that drive. What they need, more often than not, is to feel safe and to build safe and healthy relationships with these new adults in their lives. 

*There is support along the way; here are a few resources: WACAP Webinars here; video overview of TBRI® (Trust Based Relational Interventions) here; and the Empowering Parents Website


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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