Out of the Box

We have this concept, in the adoption world, called a “child profile,” which describes what a family is willing to consider when looking to adopt a child, such as age-range or health-related needs. It’s a useful concept. Like many aspects of adoption, though, it gets sticky pretty quickly.

At worst, the perception of this term is one of a “wish list.” But children aren’t something you order online.

At best, the idea is that a family and their social worker(s), together, have determined the characteristics of a child whom the family is best suited to parent. Careful consideration happens here, including looking at strengths and weaknesses, support systems, hobbies and interests, as well as family make-up and dynamics.

Fear and fantasy play significant roles here, as well. Fear of so many “what if” scenarios. What if we can’t do it? What if this child doesn’t like us? What if we don’t love this child?

Top left corner of painting "Freedom from Want" by Norman Rockwell

From the Painting “Freedom from Want,” by Norman Rockwell

“What if,” as my rural Texas grandfather used to say, “your head were a pumpkin and the hogs were to get it?”

Fantasy can throw a wrinkle in this decision as well. We like to conjure up those Norman Rockwell scenes when we think of our future with children, whether through adoption or biology.

Top left corner of painting “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dalí

From the Painting “The Persistence of Memory,” by Salvador Dalí

The truth is, both ways of thinking are extreme and are unlikely to happen just as we picture. Children tend to bring with them their own personalities and passions. Their Norman Rockwell might look more like Salvador Dali.

So we at WACAP encourage families to push through those fears and fantasies toward the reality of the types of children who so desperately need adoption both here in the U.S. and around the world. In addition to the infants who, in past years, were adopted by the loving families they needed, today we see children who likewise need families … but these kids are older. They have a sibling (or two!). They have experienced far too much trauma in their young lives, and their bodies and minds will reflect this.

But you can do it. They need you. We’re here to help. When families consider the characteristics of the child they might best parent, we would encourage them to think outside the box. We encourage you to do the same. Talk to other adoptive families and hear their stories. Get to know the children who are waiting. You’ll discover that, although they may not be quite like you originally expected, these children are pretty great. Fascinating. Funny. Creative. Helpful. And 100 percent adoptable.

Be open to the unexpected.

Allow yourself to be charmed by the individual.

At WACAP we believe that there is a family for every child. No child should be considered unadoptable.

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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Welcoming Our First Child Home From Haiti

Seeing the Need

With our vision, “a family for every child,” WACAP has long seen the significant need in Haiti, and the hundreds of thousands of children growing up without certainty or stability, without a family. With the need so great, we have continued to ask ourselves, “From thousands of miles away, what difference can we make? What can we do for these children? When?”

Existing conditions in Haiti, such as poverty and disease, were made worse by natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake, and after that Hurricane Sandy, which left so many children separated from their families. While some of these children were reunited with their families, many others needed to be adopted.

By 2012, WACAP was helping to support orphaned children in Haiti, and in 2013, we applied to the Haitian government to become an adoption service provider. By late 2014, we received accreditation from Haiti’s central adoption authority (IBESR) to provide international adoption services for Haitian children in need of a family.

WACAP Begins Serving Children in Haiti

WACAP traveled to Haiti in February of 2015, to meet with adoption officials and the staff of the orphanage we’d be working with (called Fondation Enfant Jesus) and in April of 2015, we officially opened Haiti as our newest international program! Several families who had already started the adoption process with WACAP were the first to begin the process of adopting from Haiti.

As these families began, the government in Haiti was beginning to implement the Hague Adoption Convention, an international agreement designed to protect the best interest of children. As countries improve safeguards, and revise laws and processes, often parts of the adoption process slow down (at least initially). As we talked with families about adoption from Haiti, we helped them understand the process Haiti was undergoing, and how that could impact their wait to be matched with a child, or other timelines.

Helping Families Navigate the Process

Soon, ten WACAP families, accepting that they may encounter some changes or delays while Haiti moved forward in its Hague processes, were working toward an adoption from Haiti, and eight more transferred to WACAP from another U.S. adoption agency that was no longer working in Haiti. Those eight families were in various stages of their adoption process. Only one of those families had already been officially matched with their child, and had taken the required trip to Haiti to meet their son. Although they were understandably discouraged by the news of Haiti adoptions slowing down, and frustrated by the unknowns, they were thoroughly committed to their son.

Our First Child Comes Home!

On November 9, that couple received an email from the U.S. embassy in Haiti about their child’s upcoming visa appointment. Two weeks later they were on their way to Haiti. After spending one week in Haiti they were back in the U.S. with their son! We are likely as excited as this family to see this beautiful boy’s adoption become a reality, and he’ll always be our “first ever child adopted from Haiti!”

Mother and father pose happily with their newly adopted son from Haiti

Thank you to this family for sharing their story and a family photo with us.

How long did it take for our first family to bring their child home?

From submitting their paperwork to Haitian officials to being matched with their son, they waited 12 months, and then close to 12 more before they could bring him home. When you add the time it took to complete the preadoption paperwork and education, their adoption process, from A to Z, took about 2.5 years. We still estimate that it will take about 3 years total to complete the Haiti adoption process, but we do hope to see that timeline shrink as the new Hague process starts running smoothly.

Interested in adopting from Haiti?

Each year, we can submit a limited number of families’ applications to Haiti. We’re currently welcoming families to apply. If you are interested in, or have questions about WACAP’s Haiti program, contact Maya at mayaa@wacap.org. If adoption is not part of your short-term plans, but you would like to help a child in need, please consider a gift to our “Every Child Fund.”

Maya and FamilyAbout WACAP’s Haiti Program Manager, Maya Andreic: Adoption has always played an important role in Maya’s life, as her mom had been adopted. Her first job, after graduating from college, was at a family style home for orphaned children. Through the years she’s learned that quite a few of her relatives have been touched by adoption. Maya’s history with WACAP started in 2000, and has gone full circle: adoptive parent, volunteer, and now WACAP employee. 

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Traveling to India: Kerala

This week our travels in India are continuing. Our second stop was to the state of Kerala. We chose to come to Kerala because several of our families have been matched with children from this state and we have learned that the court process can vary slightly from the process in most other states. We wanted to come to learn more about the court process, see the children who have been matched with our families and promote the advocacy of children with special needs.


A Catholic nun supervises as children explore the orphanage

We visited two small private orphanages both run by Catholic nuns. It was clear from our visit to both institutions that these ladies love their jobs!  The children at both institutions were happy and played with the nuns and caregivers as you would hope they would. There was love and pride in the nuns and caregivers’ eyes when they helped a child walk or when they were consoling a child. One little boy had a game of pull the nun’s habit (the hat that covers their hair). I was surprised that the nun was not irritated by the game, but she actually tickled him each time he did it! We didn’t see many toys but the children didn’t seem to be lacking.  While our American senses were alarmed when several of the older children climbed up the barred windows it was clear this was one reason why their gross motor skills were developing so nicely! The nuns said the kids loved to get up on the window and watch activities outside on the road and in the yard.


Children in Kerala receive excellent care

One of the orphanages was not only what is known as a “foundling” home (home of children under the age of 6) but also a home for girls from destitute and/or broken families who couldn’t care for the girls. We were sad to learn that most of the girls would never receive the opportunity to return to the families who were unable to care for them, and that for these girls, no other possibility to grow up outside of the orphanage existed. Although the likelihood that their birth families’ situations will change is extremely slight, we learned these will girls remain in care just in case they’re ever able to return to their birth families. Like their caregivers, we hope for a positive outcome. However, since most don’t leave orphanage care, but also can’t be considered for adoption, it’s a hard reality: These girls before us will likely spend their childhoods in an institution. The caregivers do make sure the girls receive education through high school (and college if she is interested and able).They also help to arrange marriages for the girls when they’re grown and remain a resource to them if they need help in the future. Still, we encouraged them to consider adoption for the girls who don’t have families and told them about the preparation that American families must go through to help prepare them to best meet the needs that older children may have. We hope they will consider our urging.

After we left Kerala we flew to New Delhi. When we checked into our hotel there was a wedding taking place with hundreds of guests attending. While the girls who were being cared for by the nuns in Kerala had the nuns as their family, most other orphanages aren’t able to provide much if any help to children leaving the orphanage once they turn 16, 17 or 18. Watching the wedding guests was such a reminder of how wonderful adoption is. Giving a child a family is the gift that keeps giving.

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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Traveling to India, Why We’ve Come

Children and caregivers in a corridor at an orphanage that WACAP staff visited during January 2016 visit to India

Meeting some of the children and staff at the orphanage

I, along with WACAP’s India program manager, Priyanka Joshi, have been traveling in India – through New Delhi, Hyderabad and Kerala. These trips always bring so many feelings to the surface. Priyanka and I both miss our families, and as we talk to government officials and orphanage staff, we also know that “family” is why we’ve come: to share how important family is for every child who waits.

The process to adopt from India has been through many changes in recent years, and we are happy to see challenges lessening.

Our first stop was Hyderabad. Here, our contacts had questions about our processes in the U.S. We were able to share specifically how WACAP families are prepared to parent the children they welcome home. They were pleased to learn how we help American families understand the possible challenges (and joys) faced when adopting a child with special needs.

Adoption official behind her desk meets with WACAP staff during their visit to India January 2016

Meeting with adoption officials in India

I continue to marvel at the lifelong commitment of our families. Talking about this commitment face-to-face with this official, I am optimistic that it made a difference. Hopefully, with information better clarified, she can help find solutions for paperwork delays that cause a child to unduly wait for the stability and love of a family.

During our visit we’ve learned that the orphanage successfully coordinates approximately 100 domestic adoptions annually.

Intercountry adoptions in India are primarily of children with medical or developmental diagnoses, and such placements have been limited in recent years. This orphanage is responsible for close to 200 children whom it considers to have “special needs.” We saw children with needs as minor as thyroid conditions and a benign heart murmur to children with microcephaly and blindness. As we shared our stories of the many children with such needs whom we have seen adopted successfully into wonderful families, our goal was to inspire officials to reduce barriers to adoption for children who should wait no longer for a family.

Sign for the care facility Sarah's Covenant Homes in India, taken by WACAP staff during 2016 visit

Care facility WACAP staff visit while in India, Sarah’s Covenant Homes

We’ve also had the opportunity to visit an NGO in the Hyderabad area, which provides care for over 120 orphans who have or who had medical needs.

The NGO started as a response to orphans’ needs not being fully addressed in government orphanage care, and as a way to be able to provide improved care for these children. Now the organization manages four small group homes where the children receive therapies and increased medical attention. Because all of the children have or had special needs, their chances of being adopted domestically is unlikely, so each of these children hopes and waits to be adopted by a family from the U.S. or Europe.

As we continue to share how family transforms the lives of all children – with all types of needs, Priyanka and I are both hopeful. We’re hopeful because the children who are waiting need us to remain their advocates. And we are hopeful because there are families who hope and who also wait to welcome them home.

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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Seeing Our Children Grow

We have literally watched (our child) come alive. She has gained tremendous strength physically, but her entire demeanor is so different!  She is LOVED.  She is HOME.  She has a voice and she now knows that it matters to a whole group of people… Thank you for all that you do as an organization to bring LIFE.”

~WACAP Family

Sometimes, working in the non-profit sector can feel like a thankless task. There are no big salaries or company cars. No fancy holiday parties or incentive packages. Just a seemingly endless amount of bureaucracy and roadblocks, and the humble knowledge that we are trying to make the world a better place through our work.

It’s a fact that, for WACAP’s staff, every child we place becomes “our child” if only for a moment in time, whether we meet them in an orphanage an ocean away, or at a local meeting with state foster care workers. When WACAP makes the decision to advocate for a child and find that child a family, those kids belong to us in our hearts.

So at WACAP, our “perks” come in the way of communications from our families. Holiday cards filled with family photos. Graduation announcements. Newspaper clippings about milestones reached and awards won. We smile through tears as we read about “our kids” uniting with their families, learning and growing, facing and overcoming challenges; in many ways simply living life – but LOVED – in a family.


Holiday cards from WACAP families brighten our office’s reception area.


Thank you for sharing your lives with us in 2015. Over the coming months we will be launching some new ways that WACAP families can share photos and updates with our staff, and in turn, we promise to share more stories with you here. WACAP’s vision is: a family for every child. With your help, we will find a family for each and every child we meet in 2016 and beyond. Happy New Year!


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

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New Year, New Family

There’s no getting around the fact that adoption, much of the time, is hard. The process is hard. The losses are hard for children and for new families. There is much beauty to be found, though, when you look closely.


In the interest of finding beauty this holiday season, let us share with you Jodi’s story. Jodi had always wanted to parent, and found her heart drawn to be a mom for a child who had waited and who might be considered “hard to place” by some. She focused her search on older children and was matched with a 12 year old from Bulgaria. Immediately, she began the work with WACAP to bring him home.

Then one day everything stopped, and grief descended again over this adoption process. Her soon-to-be son had suddenly, and very unexpectedly, passed away. Jodi was devastated.

After some time had passed, she worked with WACAP and with Bulgarian authorities, continuing her pursuit to adopt a child who was waiting. If she stopped now, she thought, would she ever find the courage to start again?

This past July, an older child in Bulgaria received news that his waiting would soon end. Thanks to Jodi’s commitment, he would now have a mom. They met in August and formed an immediate bond.

And now, we at WACAP are so happy to share their good news with you. Jodi and her new son, Thomas* recently arrived home in the USA just in time to celebrate a new year together, with new starts. As difficult as this year has been for Jodi, the years have also been difficult for Thomas.

May the coming new year bring the knowledge that, whatever comes next, these two have each other. They are family. Happy Holidays to them, and to you. And may 2016 be everything you hope for!


If you would like to help WACAP find families for more children like Thomas, consider a gift to our “Every Child Fund,” and help bring more Thomases home.


Click here to make a donation.

*Thomas is not his real name

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Fear. Fantasy. Reality.

Today, I’m writing to all of you thinking of, or pursuing, adoption. You, the hopeful, the risk-takers. The ones dreaming of your future son or daughter, looking through waiting child websites or picturing futures with the one(s) who will eventually join your family.

Keep doing that.

It helps. I’ve been there, and imagining the possibilities is one of the best aspects of this crazy-making adoption process. These conversations are where you carve out all of the rich, sweet potential of adoption. Here is where you make sense of the preparation, the gut-wrenching process, with all of its false starts and inadequate answers. Here is where your motivation lives.

But consider something else. Your reality will be what it will be. Be careful of investing too much time building a set of expectations (of the process, your experience, or your future child) that will most certainly leave you frustrated. So, in the middle of your wondering, I want to challenge you to be open.

Just be open.

Be willing to honestly consider the options that come your way as you work to adopt a child into your family. I can promise you, there will be roadblocks. The road you are on, the one you absolutely know in your gut will lead you straight to the perfect child – the one you’ve dreamt of – will come to a divide. You will be forced to consider a right or left turn.


And it is right here where you will risk paralysis. Frustration. Resentment.

It’s ok. You’ll get through.

I’m a big fan of a singer/songwriter by the name of Sara Groves. In a recent interview, she shared the inspiration behind a recent song, describing an idea where the two enemies of reality are fear and fantasy.[1]

This is exactly where you will find yourself, more than once, as you pursue adoption: between fear and fantasy. These are, perhaps, the top two barriers to successful adoption. Are you fearful of what might be, if you say yes? Do you fantasize, like I did, about a son who hits the game-winning home run, or about the walk with your daughter down the aisle at her wedding? Both can be dangerous, and focusing on either could leave you stuck, and ruin the greatness that is found in the reality unfolding right in front of you.

“What if I sat right here and took you in without the fear 

and loved you whole without the flight and didn’t try to pass this cup?

This cup, I want to drink it up. To be right here in the middle of it.

Right here, right here, this challenging reality’s better than fear or fantasy.”

“This Cup,” by Sara Groves from the album, Floodplain

At these times, I challenge you to take a breath. Be mindful of your strengths and limitations, but be open to the unexpected. You will, eventually, face a reality that is vastly different than your expectations. Welcome it, and take it all in. Be open to the possibilities that you never dreamed of.

[1] Midday Connection Podcast. Moody Radio. 2015, September 8.

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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A Home for the Holidays

One Hour of Television That’s Worth It
Every holiday season, the Dave Thomas Foundation and CBS air a heartwarming special, “A Home for the Holidays,” sharing life-changing stories of children and families joined by adoption. You need to watch this hour of television. It will inspire and motivate you.

You will fall in love with the children and families profiled here. And maybe, just maybe, you will be inspired to do something in response: Research adoption. Donate to a child welfare agency. Volunteer. Each of them, wonderful! Whatever action you might consider after watching this special, please follow through.

"A Home for the Holidays" Adoption Special

You’re hearing real stories, rather than fictionalized versions. You are meeting real children from the foster care system and the families who step in when biological parents cannot. Perhaps you are discovering the reality behind whatever you had previously imagined.

About Adoption: When Your Heart Says “Jump-In”
Let’s talk expectations: Adoption takes time and effort. Even when your heart wants to leap, there’s a process to follow, step-by-step. This is actually a great thing, as the preparation time will pay off in huge dividends after a child comes home. There are things you will learn along the way that many aspiring parents don’t even know they need to ask. The time in-between is okay. That it seems to pass too slowly is normal, too. The time allows for preparation. It’s a very good thing, and adoption-minded families need to be aware of the required investment of time.

The Children: The Reason Why
Then there are the children. In the USA, there are 108,000 children who wait for adoption right now. They are incredibly resilient, charming, inspiring, and funny with unbelievable potential. The children are also older; sometimes, as siblings, they come in pairs or trios (or more!); and they have heartbreaking trauma histories. Don’t let the latter overshadow the former. These kids are just that: kids. Loveable. Beautiful. Adoptable. Allow us to tell you about them.

Walking You Through, Now and Later
As you learn about the many children that wait for adoption and their stories, don’t be intimidated by the need you see or the time the adoption process can take. Don’t be discouraged by thoughts that adopting from foster care is too expensive to be possible (a commonly held misconception).

Agencies such as WACAP are here to help answer your questions, and walk you through the process, start to finish – and even afterwards.

So, tune in to this holiday special. Think about what you might do in response. Then give us a shout. WACAP provides a dedicated adoption information specialist ready to answer your questions and help you investigate the possibilities. Her name is Debbie, and she can’t wait to hear from you. You can reach her at 206.922.1547 during business hours (Pacific Time) or by email at wacap@wacap.org.

If adoption isn’t for you, you are still needed. Donate to help us advocate for children who are waiting to be adopted, and support families after adoption, as their lives begin and their foundations grow.

Together, we can make sense of the process and find a way to transform lives one by one.

This is how we change the world.

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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Adoption From Foster Care

Of more than 400,000 children in the United States foster care system, there are 108,000 children who are waiting to be adopted.1  Read that once more and let it sink in. 108,000. This is fact, and it is unacceptable.

It is why WACAP is committed to children around the globe and right here at home. Adoption from U.S. foster care is a relatively affordable option for families considering adoption, but there are many things to consider.

  1. The children who wait for adoption are often older, may be a part of a sibling group, and most have histories of trauma.
  2. Children enter foster care through no fault of their own. They are in foster care for their safety.
  3. If unable to be reunited with their birth parents, children are often placed with relatives. If this doesn’t work out, they are frequently adopted by their foster families.
  4. It is only at this point in the process, after the above options have been ruled out, that other families are considered. 108,000 children in the U.S. are at this point in the process. They need someone.

Our US Kids program at WACAP is a “foster-to-adopt” program. We place children in families under a foster care contract with the state of Washington while preparations are made to finalize their adoption. This allows time for us to support a family in the early stages of a placement and help older children make the transition from temporary placements to understanding what a “forever family” means.

I hope you’ll take time to look at these statistics to learn more about the numbers behind our US Kids program. There are too many children who are lingering in a system that was never intended to be more than a temporary solution. No government or institution can possibly parent a child. This is a job for families. Permanent, committed remarkable families.

If you are interested in learning more about our US Kids foster-to-adopt program, give WACAP a call at 800-732-1887 or email wacap@wacap.org.

 1. www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/trends_fostercare_adoption2014.pdf

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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What does China’s New Child Policy mean for Intercountry Adoption?

WACAP’s China Adoption Supervisor and Hague Compliance Manager, Elizabeth Rose, discusses this week’s news from China:

Perhaps you’ve heard about China’s recent decision to end their “one-child policy?” It has been an interesting topic of discussion in our offices this morning and across the internet. Though this is certainly a complex issue, and one that will certainly have an impact much more broad than within the scope of intercountry adoption, we at WACAP want to discuss what this decision might mean for children, and for US families thinking of intercountry adoption.

1. This decision is a positive step for families and children in China. At WACAP, we are thrilled for Chinese families who now have more freedom in this area. Regulations that work to preserve and strengthen birth families are wonderful. We can all hope that this change indicates progress towards lifting all limitations on family size.

2. China’s decision to allow two children per couple, based on our experience at WACAP, will not have a significant impact on intercountry adoption from this country. When it comes to intercountry adoption, we no longer see the healthy younger children needing placement. The children for whom we advocate are those who have always been a part of the world’s orphan crisis: they are older or have some form of identified medical or developmental need. Over the past five years, WACAP has placed over 600 of China’s children in permanent families. These adoptions, however, did not occur due to China’s one-child rule: only 3% were infants with no known “special need.” 80% of these children had identified medical diagnoses, and 14% experienced developmental delays. Another 4% were older, with an average age of 12.

Waiting Children, or those with special needs, have always needed families. WACAP’s history of adoptions from China, comparing ‘healthy infants’ with ‘waiting children,’ illustrates this burgeoning reality for intercountry adoption.

Waiting Children, or those with special needs, have always needed families. WACAP’s history of adoptions from China, comparing ‘healthy infants’ with ‘waiting children,’ illustrates this burgeoning reality for intercountry adoption.

If you are considering intercountry adoption and are wondering about today’s headlines and what they mean for adoption from China, let me encourage you. We are actively recruiting families for over 220 waiting children from China.

  • Their average age is 7 ½ years old.
  • Almost 70% of them are boys.
  • Most have special needs.

Their most significant need, however, is a family. Today’s announcement is good news. Be happy for the benefit to China’s families, but don’t be discouraged about adoption. There are children who continue to need families like you.

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