Adopting From China: About the Children, Next Steps for Families

“Should I Still Consider China for My Adoption?”

Between the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption implementing new eligibility guidelines, and recent U.S. Department of State announcements clarifying that pre-approval (being matched with a child prior to homestudy approval) is prohibited, many families feel very uncertain about moving forward with an adoption from China.

Questions are bouncing around online China adoption groups: “Is China still a stable program?” “Will China close to international adoption?” “Why choose China now?” 

Reasons to Adopt from China

Despite all the changes, there are still many reasons to adopt from China.

  • China continues to be a fast and predictable program.
  • Most families who are adopting a waiting child complete the adoption in 9-12 months.
  • There is only one trip, usually about two weeks long, and one or both parents can travel.
  • And the most important reason families should still adopt from China: the kids!

Families-Children-Collage

The Children Who Wait

There is a greater need than ever for families to adopt from China. The shared list of waiting children that all China adoption agencies can access has more children than ever before: 3,317 children listed as of early April.

Families are needed for all kinds of children:

  • There are 361 children age 3 and under. Of those, almost 75 percent are boys!
  • In the next 12 months, 229 children on the shared list will “age out” of China’s adoption system when they turn 14, losing their chance to be a part of a family. Almost 70 percent of those children are boys.
  • Over 700 children with Down syndrome wait on the shared list.

None of these statistics include the hundreds of children on specific agency lists; when you add them in, the numbers grow even more. The need is staggering.

Can you join with us to bring these children home?

Moving Forward: Completing the Homestudy

As of early April, WACAP had only five families with completed homestudies who were waiting to be matched with a young child. We had zero families with completed homestudies open to adopting a boy.

We continue to see lots of toddler age boys with needs that many families are open to, such as albinism, missing one eye, heart defects, microtia, and cleft lip and palate.

Additionally, with the new DOS guidelines, we need families who will move forward and complete their homestudy and who are open to adopting older children or children with a wide range of needs, ranging from cerebral palsy to spina bifida, deafness and Down syndrome. WACAP offers $2,000 or $4,000 grants for many children who are older or have these kinds of diagnoses.

Contact us at wacap@wacap.org to start your homestudy and move one step closer to bringing your child home.


LindseyGilbertAbout Program Manager Lindsey Gilbert: Lindsey became a member of WACAP’s China adoption team in 2011, after joining WACAP as a volunteer. She’s helped numerous families through their adoption process as a case manager, and she currently dedicates her time to both managing WACAP’s Thailand program as well as advocating for waiting children in WACAP’s international programs. She and her husband Geoff adopted their four-year-old daughter Vennela from India through WACAP in December 2017. Outside of work, Lindsey can be found practicing her Indian cooking, in the garden, or on a hiking trail with Geoff, Vennela and their two dogs.

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“Our Adopted Child Won’t Bond With Both of Us”: 8 Tips to Support Attachment

If it takes a village to raise a child, it goes without saying that parents need the support of their community along the way—especially when tough questions obscure the answers.

Here’s one such question, asked by an adoptive mom whose child was struggling with attachment. It’s followed by a response from WACAP’s adoptive parent support group—an online community for families, where WACAP social services staff and adoptive parents offer their experience and perspective when it’s needed most.  


child-parent-hug

One Parent’s Question:

We recently adopted our child internationally. She’s about 18 months old, and after nearly one month home, she is bonding with me, but struggling to attach to her dad. With his return to work and her ongoing rejection of him, I’m worried they’ll have issues bonding going forward.

Do you have any tips that can improve or help speed up attachment between my child and my spouse?  

Response from WACAP Social Worker Zia Freeman:

I know it is hard to deal with watching your partner be rejected, especially if you might like to take a breather once in a while!

For those who’ve adopted as a couple, it is very common for a child to prefer one parent over the other for a while. And the short answer is that you can’t force or “hurry” attachment, especially in such a short amount of time.

Children of this age take an average of 6 months to get a comfortable bond going with any new person. If time becomes more limited for your spouse during the weekdays, he will have to bond with your daughter during weekends and evenings. And you’re not alone in that.

For most parents who can’t take much time off when their child comes home, it’s just the reality that attachment may take longer. Your daughter isn’t bonded to you yet, either; she is doing “insecure attachment,” where she needs to have you present most of the time in her line of sight.

It can be exhausting for you (the “clingee”) and upsetting to the other parent who is being rejected, but remember it isn’t personal. Having been adopted internationally, your child is likely more used to caregivers who were women being around her and caring for her needs, as well.

It is good that she is responding well to one parent and that is progress!

We have to remember that we can’t expect children of trauma and loss to bend to our schedules in such a short time; the fact that she is doing so well so quickly shows how much progress she has already made.

Going back to work, school starting, or vacation coming up are schedules that are expected societally and among adults, although newly placed kids need the focus to be on attachment with them as much as possible in the first 6 months to a year.

Though your child is very young, her world has already impacted her brain, and she is reacting very normally to being placed with complete strangers and losing every person and thing that she has been used to.

Don’t lose heart!

Here are eight tips to support bonding between your child and your partner:

  • Encourage your partner to be around you often while home, so that your child can see your partner is safe and not going anywhere.
  • Have your partner offer food and toys (there’s nothing wrong with “a little bribery” in this cooperative, positive way).
  • Don’t force your child to be alone with your partner, beyond what your child is already comfortable with.
  • Rather than holding or picking your child up, have your partner just use light touch when possible, or let the child observe your partner’s activities (e.g., playing with the child’s toys).
  • Remember the messages you’re both sending to your child: Once your child realizes your partner is not going away for more than a few hours and is safe to be around (plus has food and toys to share!), the child will likely respond more positively.
  • Understand the response and timing are unique to each child. For a young child adjusting to two parents, the adjustment time may take a few days to a couple of months.
  • At times that your partner is away and you are with your child, show a picture of your partner to your child, and act very excited when you’re all together next.
  • Don’t require your child to go to your partner, but instead show your child that you are happy with your partner around. Your child will soon understand your partner is part of the family package!

Adapted from advice shared by WACAP social worker Zia Freeman on WACAP’s Facebook parent support group.

WACAP is committed to providing lifelong support to families, including through this vibrant online community where families and social services staff can share resources, perspective, and advice.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Advice, International Adoption, Support Services, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

When Families Say “Help, I Need Somebody”

On his personal blog about adoption, fatherhood, and parenting, WACAP CEO Greg Eubanks shares about a recent visit to his home state. After a chance meeting with an adoptive family, Greg reflects on his own journey as new parent, and reminds us that families aren’t alone.


Help! (I Need Somebody)

baskets of help wanted signs

I was lucky enough to travel back home to Texas during this past holiday season. Like so many others, I enjoyed time with family and friends. I also had the chance, though, to connect with an adoptive family I’d never met. In 2016, however, I met the boy who would become their son. At that time, he lived in a Chinese orphanage and he was waiting. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he and his new family lived in my old hometown. I was “all in.”

So, of course, I invited myself for coffee. When we connected, we talked about the importance of support for adoptive families.

I never needed anybody’s help in any way

As I write about this encounter, I want to rewind a bit to that period of time when I was an adoptive parent, struggling, and grasping desperately for bootstraps that weren’t there.

My wife and I were struggling, and we couldn’t figure out how to make anything better.  We had also determined that we were alone in our situation.

So many in our circle didn’t seem to be able to grasp our reality. Maybe they had elevated us, unfairly and undeservedly, to an heroic status so often assigned to adoptive parents.

Maybe we were acting out of a protective instinct for our children, wanting others to see the best in them. Probably, we are the types who find it terribly difficult to ask for help.  Regardless, we didn’t tell anyone for a long time how bad things were.

Now I find, I’ve changed my mind

Eventually, we reached a point where we had to tell someone. We chose transparency and vulnerability. We chose poorly, because the people we entrusted with our “secret” didn’t know how to react. So they receded into the shadows, and we felt more alone than ever.

Here’s the thing, though: Our need for support didn’t go away. We needed someone to listen, to understand, and to acknowledge that this, too, shall pass. We needed someone to point us to the future where hope resides. We needed someone to climb down into the abyss with us and say, I’ve been here before.

Help me, if you can

Which brings me to coffee, and these new adoptive parents who were about to become friends. As we spoke, I confessed how much I once felt like a fraud. We told stories of our experiences, failures, and shame. We discovered that these feelings are common. And, we discovered they are undeserved.

Though we spoke briefly of an impressive, evidence-based model that is providing hope and support to many adoptive families, most of our conversation was confessional. We imparted no wisdom. Far from it! We simply shared our experiences and found out how unremarkable they ultimately were in the world of adoption. What we were trying to say was, “we’ve been down here before and know what it’s like. But there is a path that leads out of this place. Maybe we can find it together.”

Not just anybody

It is because of experiences like this that I write my blog. There is a reason why I fight through my instinctive self-talk that chides, “No one cares what you have to say!”

Finding the right type of support can be such a difficult, seemingly impossible, task. I am convinced that there are others out there who feel alone, ashamed, terrified that they are forever lost in a wilderness.

You are not alone. You are not a failure. There are others like you. Like us. So, reach out.  And, be reachable.


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. He blogs about his experience as a parent, and about lessons learned at https://millionmistakes.com.

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Welcome Home to Abel, Two Months Home

Welcome home to 2-year-old Abel!

Adopted from China, Abel joined his family in January.

His parents, Jordyn and Brian, are thrilled, and this month they shared that after just two months home, Abel is making incredible strides.

Toddler sitting on suitcase, wearing gray

Toddler relaxes on carpet, joins in on coloring and drawing activities

Children reading on couch


To learn about adopting from China or to find out more about the children waiting for families, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org.

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Loving Your Older Child, Even When the Feeling Is Missing

In 2011, WACAP parent Kris Kittle welcomed home her 13-year-old daughter, adopted from China. Here, Kris offers some tips to families about how to build and strengthen emotional connections with children who’ve joined their families through adoption. Especially addressing parents who’ve adopted older kids, Kris acknowledges that love can be hard to feel sometimes … and that’s okay.


Loving Your Child: Older Child Adoption

By Kris Kittle, Ph.D

Those who choose older child adoption face many distinct challenges. Many of the challenges are openly discussed as parents seek out advice and wisdom in how to address them.

One of the unique challenges parents may face, however, is not feeling love for their child, although this topic is rarely discussed. Few parents willingly admit they do not feel love for their child; those who do often receive judgment from others.

When the Feelings Are Hard to Find

Admitting you do not feel love for your child is perceived as unacceptable because it runs counter to human nature, so why do so many experience it?

There are likely a variety of reasons, but consider this scenario: When an infant or young toddler joins your family, you see the sweet smile that melts your heart. You hear the contagious baby giggle. You know how much this treasured child depends on you for care and comfort. When the baby you’ve cherished becomes a preteen—who perhaps begins to exude an attitude—you still know and remember the sweet baby tucked behind the challenging exterior.

However, when you bring your child home as a preteen (or older), you do not have those memories of the sweet and precious baby. You see only the tough exterior, and you are not sure what is underneath. Often, it is difficult to look past the exterior to that hurt child hiding deep inside.

Three Tips to Help Parents Build Emotional Connections With Their Older Kids

How can parents love their child when they lack the gushy loving feelings?

1. Set realistic expectations.

Would you marry a complete stranger and expect to feel immediately emotionally connected to that person? Certainly you answered, “No, of course not.”

Adopting an older child is similar: You are entering into a relationship with a complete stranger who has their own experiences, personality, and likes and dislikes. Yet as their parent, you are expected to feel emotional love for them from the start.

Those emotional connections and feelings can develop, but it often takes time to feel that love. It will take time for your child to feel love for you, too. And they may never feel love for you. You have to accept that loving your child is not about what they do (or don’t do), but who they are as your child.

2. Love is an action, not a feeling.

As one dad I talked with shared, “Love is what you do, what you say, and how you interact with your child.”

  • You can express love to your kids by meeting their needs.
  • You can show love by giving sincere, authentic praise every day (even if you have to look really hard to find something praise worthy).
  • You can show love through service such as teaching skills, such as how to cook, how to sort laundry, how to manage money, etc.
  • You can show affectionate touch by giving hugs, pats on the back, fist bumps, and high fives.
  • You can spend quality time with your child listening to them and doing activities together that your child enjoys.

3. Take care of yourself.

It is hard to help others when you have already given everything within you, and you feel dry … parched, out of energy, done. As parents, it is easy to become so immersed in the needs of our children, or family in general, that we neglect taking care of us. However, we cannot pour from an empty cup, either. (Airline attendants remind us to put on our oxygen masks before assisting others.)

We need to change the narrative that suggests taking time to care for ourselves is selfish. Nonetheless, many parents struggle to find enjoyable things that help them feel refreshed. If that sounds like you:

  • Consider different types of activities that you have tried or want to try.
  • If you’re unsure of what works for you, consider activities in these categories:
    • Reflective (example: meditation or positive self-talk).
    • Calming (example: reading or spending time in nature).
    • Physical (example: exercise).
    • Creative (example: hand crafts or coloring).
    • Social (example: join a new group or go to a movie).
    • There are many ideas within each category, so search the internet for additional ideas.
  • Don’t be afraid to try out new ideas.
  • Keep track of what works for you as well as what does not.
  • Make sure what you select is beneficial, not detrimental (such as overworking).
  • If taking time for yourself seems difficult, start with small increments of time and gradually increase it. Find what works best for you to take care of you.

Worth the Effort

Setting realistic expectations for yourself (and your child), acting out love by meeting your child’s needs (even when you do not feel like it), and making sure you have energy to give are vital for you and your child.

If one day (or week) is really hard or is unsuccessful …

  • Give yourself grace.
  • Recommit to showing love to your child.
  • And purposefully act.

It can be hard, but you, your child, and your family are worth the effort.


Headshot of Kris Kittle, author of blog post and co-author of book  Dr. Kris Kittle is a WACAP adoptive mom and co-author of “Wisdom from Adoptive Families: Joys and Challenges in Older Child Adoption,” which brings together the experience of forty families who adopted preteen or teenage children. You can learn more about the book at www.AdoptionSurvival.com.

Dr. Kittle earned her doctorate at the University of North Texas and teaches leadership communication at Dallas Baptist University. She also blogs at https://kriskittle.com.

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Federal Adoption Policy Changes, A Call to Courage

In light of Department of State changes to the adoption process, WACAP case manager and adoptive parent Lindsey Gilbert reminds us why children need our courage.


“Why You Should Still Adopt from China”

From the Lens of a WACAP Parent and Case Manager

Recently, the Department of State clarified their policy in a notice to Adoption Service Providers (ASPs), and made it clear that regardless of a foreign country’s practices, that U.S. ASPs are prohibited from making “soft referrals,” which includes matching a child to a family who has not yet completed a homestudy.

This applies to all countries, but was particularly a shock to the China adoption community, where for the past several years families have been able to come forward for a specific waiting child and be matched prior to completing their homestudy.

Since this announcement, many families have said they would not have started the adoption process if they hadn’t been matched with that specific child first. Many in the China adoption community are speculating on how this will cause adoption numbers to drop even further.

This breaks my heart.

Other countries we work in have already had similar policies in place, such as India and Taiwan, and we’ve seen that in those countries, the children most negatively impacted by the policy are the children who are the hardest to find families for: children who are older, large sibling groups, and children with complex medical or developmental needs.

When my husband and I began the adoption process, we came forward for a little boy in need of an adoptive family, but ultimately the adoption fell through. We were heartbroken, but we grieved our loss, picked ourselves up, and moved forward.

We were registered on the Indian government’s adoption website, and immediately matched with our daughter in May 2017. She had been waiting for a family since December 2015.

Perspective shot of mom and daughter holding hands, daughter looking up.

I can’t imagine if we had said, “No, that little boy was the only child for our family; since we can’t adopt him we won’t adopt at all.” We wouldn’t have our hilarious, smart, beautiful, brave daughter, and that thought takes my breath away. Every heartbreak we experienced was worth it to get the privilege of being her mama.

Drawing-with-Mom

China’s shared list of waiting children that all agencies can access is larger than it’s ever been: 3328 children as of writing this article. The need for adoptive families is greater than ever, and the process is requiring more of families than ever before.

It requires you to be brave, to put your heart on the line, and trust that when you get to the point of being matched, the child who needs you will be there waiting.

Our kids are the bravest people I know—can you be brave for them?

With-Dad-on-Plane-Featured

More Information

If you have questions about the Department of State’s changes, or would like to learn more about adoption, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org.


LindseyGilbertAbout Thailand Program Manager Lindsey Gilbert: Lindsey became a member of WACAP’s China adoption team in 2011, after joining WACAP as a volunteer. She’s helped numerous families through their adoption process as a case manager, and she currently dedicates her time to both managing WACAP’s Thailand program as well as advocating for waiting children in WACAP’s international programs. She and her husband Geoff adopted their four-year-old daughter Vennela from India through WACAP in December 2017. Outside of work, Lindsey can be found practicing her Indian cooking, in the garden, or on a hiking trail with Geoff, Vennela and their two dogs.

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, International Adoption, WACAP, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Family Finds Unexpected Gift in Open Adoption

This WACAP family shares their foster-to-adoption story, marveling at the joy their daughter brings and at something else unexpected: “One of the best parts of our daughter’s adoption ” they share, “has been building a relationship with her biological parents …” 


Finding Unexpected Gifts

This past March, my husband and I were hiking alone along a crumbling, rarely traveled section of the Great Wall of China and thinking “how could life get any better than this?” and little did we know … the happiest day of our lives was yet to come.

Last year, on National Adoption Day, we officially adopted our daughter. She is the most incredible little girl ever, only really she is.

An Afternoon Phone Call

She entered our lives via a phone call at 2:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon, and by 5 p.m., we were arriving at the hospital to pick her up.

baby in blue denim, smiling happily
As newbie licensed foster parents, we didn’t know if our first placement would be an infant, toddler, or preschooler, so we had held off on furnishing our apartment with much more than just a crib.

We never imagined that we’d only have a couple hours to prepare, so we hurried to buy a car seat, and relied on my sister to run and pick up all other usual newborn items. After a rather surreal series of hours at the hospital, we left with a fragile 4 pound, six-day old baby girl.

Only it turned out she wasn’t fragile at all. Our daughter is a strong, bright, and super easy-going baby.

Foster-to-Adoption: Realities, Emotions and Surprises

Though we became foster parents to ultimately adopt a child, we were prepared for the reality that some foster placements wouldn’t be permanent.  

We spent the first couple months fraught with emotions as we grappled with the desire to see her parents succeed at reunification, but also wanting to keep this wonderful little person we fell in love with and share our future with her. Through letters and messages we discovered we share similar world views and interests with her biological parents, which ultimately helped everything fall in place with an open adoption.

“One of the Best Parts of Our Adoption”

It surprised us that one of the best parts of our daughter’s adoption has been building a relationship with her birth parents and knowing they will be a part of our lives as she grows up.

Parents holding their young daughter with

Our little girl’s adoption day also marked 15 years since my husband and I went on our first date. I am not sure whether or not my mother appreciated such a long wait to get her first grandchild.

But here she is!

Six close-up images of baby


If you’d like to learn more about U.S. foster care and adoption, contact us at wacap@wacap.org.

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Celebrations, Domestic Adoption, Foster Care, Images of Family, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Forward: Looking Ahead to Growing Bonds, Incredible Journeys

It’s time to spring forward! 

We’re looking forward to the season ahead, and to the families, connections, and friendships that will continue to grow.

Quote in photo: "It is an incredible journey -- and best when shared" by Karen, adoptive parent. Image (left) two children in orphanage before they were adopted. (image right) two children/friends from orphanage after being adopted by their families on the way to school, with older sibling, family and friends.


You can read about these two young friends from Haiti, and the paths that brought them and their families together, here

If you’re interested in learning more about adopting from Haiti, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org.

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Celebrations, Images of Family, Memes, Quote, Reflections, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WACAP Celebrates Our Diversity of Families

Family portrait with quote from adoptive parent -

We’re privileged to work with a diversity of families everyday – including committed parents like Kathryn.

In the image above, Kathryn comments on what being a parent has meant to her: “If I’ve done anything important my life, this is it.”

We couldn’t say it any better.


All-Children-All-Families-Seal-2018
WACAP recently received our Seal of Recognition for our work with the Human Rights Campaign – All Children, All Families.

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Images of Family, Memes, Quote, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

18 Adoption Movies to Add to Your “Must Watch” Movie List

Animated graphic with film, popcorn and message, "It's Oscars Time | WACAP recommends ..."

Recommended Adoption and Foster Care Related Movies: To Watch and Discuss!

For families on their adoption journeys, the way ahead can feel like a lot of hurry up and wait.

WACAP recommends families use this time to prepare, and that involves training, reading, discussing, planning … and a lot of paperwork!

These 18 adoption and foster care related movies suggested by WACAP staff are an excellent way to keep learning and discussing important topics, at the same time you’re enjoying your down time and screen time.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Advice, Celebrations, Foster Care, Videos, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment