Transitions: Why are they hard, and what can we do?

Child-With-Cape-and-First-Raised-Toward-Sky-Pexels

Transitions:

Why are they hard, and what can we do?

Our children who came to us through adoption have often lived in a world in which uncertainty is the only constant. For them loss and transitions have been stressful, if not traumatic. They have lost their birth parents or have been separated from their birth family; and they have often moved from foster home to foster home, or from one orphanage to another.

Many times, transitions are not planned ahead, and there is no collaborative process that engages the child in the decision-making that leads to moves and losses, leaving our children feeling uncertain, with limited or no control over their reality or circumstances. It is because of these compounding experiences that adoptees often struggle with transitions big and small and can experience great anxiety surrounding changes.

In my work as a former adoption parenting coach and therapist within the foster care system, and in my current role at WACAP, I’ve met, and continue to meet with families and children dealing with change: parents seeking support with how to respond when their children are exhibiting some challenging behaviors; and children responding to new changes, on top of a history of flux and uncertainty.

These transitions and intersections are both difficult for adoptees; and substantial changes such as moving to a new place, attending a different school, or changing school grades can stir anxiety within these children.

What may children experience?

Our kids may experience a global sense of insecurity and as a result, respond with active resistance to changes in routines or environments. These feelings and the response they evoke can make them seem fearful, anxious, and sometimes even angry or hyperaroused (emotionally and physiologically tense and reactive). Hyperaroused children are hypervigilant and incapable of adequately interpreting the emotional aspects of a situation, which can result in inadequate social interactions with both adults and peers.

In addition, children that have lived in environments where they have not felt safe may perceive threats where there aren’t any, but we must understand that to them, school changes, moves to a different house (even if in the same town or city), or disrupted routines can have deep effects on their sense of safety. For these kids the world can­­­­ seem unsafe and unpredictable, and disrupting a known routine can have a significant emotional impact.

What can you do?

Be proactive – When you know your child is about to undergo a transition, plan ahead; engage the child and provide opportunities for them to feel some sense of control.

Provide an environment that is structured and predictable
– Create routines that give your child a sense of safety in knowing what happens next.

Provide opportunities for self-expression
– Giving your child outlets to express their emotions can have positive and long-lasting effects upon their ability to manage stress. Suggest drawing or journaling, both can be private means of self-expression that the child or teen can share if they so please, but not otherwise.

Focus on the root-cause of the behavior
, and work to help your child identify ways to honor their past – Adoptees can benefit from having parents that understand how important it can be to talk about their losses, and how the grief they experience can trigger feelings and behaviors that we could all recognize as challenging.

Eliminate unnecessary stressors
– Whenever possible, minimize the number of transitions your child would experience within short periods of time. For example, if your son is beginning a new school year, it may help to wait to engage him in new afterschool activities.

Teach your child relaxation techniques
– Don’t just teach them, model it for them. Whether it is breathing exercises, mindfulness practice, coloring, running, or another activity, engage your child in practicing techniques that have a calming effect on them.

Seek professional support
– If your child doesn’t already have a trusted therapist, this may be a good time to seek out help. Yes, it’s another transition, but hopefully a positive one. Maybe you can start the process with family therapy leading to individual therapy sessions for your child, or maybe you can do both concurrently.

Zoila and Zhoe on the carousel, delighted as the horses go round

Along the Way

A number of resources are available to support you and your child in understanding of the feelings and tendencies that transition and change bring. Author and family therapist Lesli Johnson explains:

Separations, relationships, and transitions can be difficult hurdles throughout the lifespan for those whose earliest experience was separation from their birthmother. Attuned parents can help their children and adolescents navigate these events and ideally these experiences will be integrated along the way. In time, adoptees can eventually acquire what Dan Siegel calls “Mindsight” or “the kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our minds and examine the processes by which they think feel and behave…” As adoptees understand the details of their story, make sense of their feelings and triggers as they relate to adoption, they can cultivate resilience and learn to respond rather than react — a skill that offers more freedom of choice in day to day actions and provides an overall sense of well-being.”

Resources:
10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know” –  Lesli Johnson.
Mindsight” – Dr. Daniel Siegel.


WACAP_Zoila_Lopez

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 has an extensive work background as a therapist and adoption coach, working to support all members of the adoption triad.

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Happy Heart’s Day! —  India Adoption, the Children, and a Heart Connection

India Adoption, the Children, and a Heart Connection

In February, we see so many heart images – they’re everywhere!

One of the focuses for many this month is Valentine’s Day – we celebrate love. There’s also a heightened awareness of heart health in February.

We’d like introduce a new heart focus this Valentine’s Day: Children in need of adoption who have a heart condition … because we think it’s important to expand on a common medical condition we see in all of the countries where we work, and especially in India.

We caught up with Jo Reed, WACAP’s Family Finders Program Manager, to discuss the medical needs we see in our India adoption program and how so many families are “opening their hearts” to the idea of considering a child with a heart condition.

We hope you have a “heart-warming” day – and Happy Valentine’s Day from WACAP.


“A Heart Connection”

by Jo Reed, WACAP Family Finders Program Manager

Map of India in Shape of Heart

Remembering How My Daughter Became Mine

As Valentine’s Day approaches, my heart warms remembering how my daughter became mine on a day in 2002—a day when the foreign shopping mall was a shiny sea of Mylar heart balloons in red, silver and pink. That February adventure has forever sealed the connection between the heart-filled greeting card holiday and the changes in my own heart as I learned to parent this complicated wonder that is my child.

For many adoptive parents, there is another, more literal “heart connection”—their children’s heart song rhythms are different because of heart conditions they were born with. As more of the children we see who need families have medical conditions, more WACAP families are opening their own hearts to those who need special medical care, and many of these children have congenital heart conditions.

‘Why do families adopt kids with heart conditions?’

Why do families adopt kids with heart conditions? One mom I asked looked at me in surprise. “Why?” she asked, “Why not? Our family felt it was manageable, repairable. I know some families have had a harder time than we did; we were lucky.” Others tell stories of how personal experiences with heart issues have given them the confidence they needed to adopt a child with a heart condition.

Currently WACAP is advocating for more than 30 children who have heart conditions, ranging from toddlers to teens “aging out” of adoption this year. In 2017, more than 10% of the children with medical needs matched with families had some type of heart concern. These conditions range from very mild (requiring monitoring but not treatment), to significant (involving multiple surgeries and ongoing medication) and everything in between.

We encourage families to learn more about heart conditions. Rainbow Kids’ offers a great resource to families regarding “Special Needs in Children” that expands on many medical conditions common in international adoption, including heart conditions.

WACAP also strongly suggests families seek a pre-adoption consultation with a doctor who specializes in international medication. It’s critical to get a true medical perspective!

 Additional Resources

Ask us about these kids with heart conditions!

  • Vanessa, a 6-year-old girl in Thailand
  • Clint, a 1-year-old boy in China
  • Honor, a 15-year-old girl in India
  • Sherman, a 4-year-old boy in Taiwan
  • Angie, a 2-year-old girl in Bulgaria
  • Brett, an 11-year-old boy in Taiwan
  • Daria, an 11-year-old girl in China
  • Gwen, a 14-year-old girl in Bulgaria
  • Sherie, a 3-year-old girl in India

India has recently been referring many young children with heart conditions for international adoptions and about 10% of WACAP’s families adopting waiting children in India are adopting those with some form of congenital heart disease.

Currently there are more than 30 children with Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) of all ages on India’s list of waiting children, and Indian babies/toddlers with heart conditions are among those most quickly matched with families.

As one adoption professional observed, “All kids without families have hearts that need to heal on so many levels—the medical care my son needs for his heart condition is just one part of the support and care he needs to develop into the healthy, confident child he’s working so hard to become.”

Want more information?—just ask! WACAP can help you determine if adopting a child with CHD is right for your family. Email FamilyFinders@wacap.org or call me at 206-922-1518.

Jo Reed, Family Finders Manager, mother of two children who will always be my Valentines!


Jo Reed of WACAP's Family Finders Team smilesAbout WACAP’s Family Finders Program Manager, Jo Reed: Jo came to WACAP in 2004 and with her, an unyielding commitment to bringing children and families together. An adoptive parent of two children, Jo is also a daily advocate for every child growing up without permanency. Through her work with WACAP’s Family Finders, she has helped share the stories of thousands of children who needed advocates and a family.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Advocacy, Celebrations, International Adoption, Reflections, WACAP, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Heart’s Day! —  India Adoption, the Children, and a Heart Connection

A re-post of the “Happy Hearts Day — India Adoption, the Children and a Heart Connection” post — for those who experienced any difficulty with the link.

India Adoption, the Children, and a Heart Connection

In February, we see so many heart images – they’re everywhere!

One of the focuses for many this month is Valentine’s Day – we celebrate love. There’s also a heightened awareness of heart health in February.

We’d like introduce a new heart focus this Valentine’s Day: Children in need of adoption who have a heart condition … because we think it’s important to expand on a common medical condition we see in all of the countries where we work, and especially in India.

We caught up with Jo Reed, WACAP’s Family Finders Program Manager, to discuss the medical needs we see in our India adoption program and how so many families are “opening their hearts” to the idea of considering a child with a heart condition.

We hope you have a “heart-warming” day – and Happy Valentine’s Day from WACAP.


“A Heart Connection”

by Jo Reed, WACAP Family Finders Program Manager

Map of India in Shape of Heart

Remembering How My Daughter Became Mine

As Valentine’s Day approaches, my heart warms remembering how my daughter became mine on a day in 2002—a day when the foreign shopping mall was a shiny sea of Mylar heart balloons in red, silver and pink. That February adventure has forever sealed the connection between the heart-filled greeting card holiday and the changes in my own heart as I learned to parent this complicated wonder that is my child.

For many adoptive parents, there is another, more literal “heart connection”—their children’s heart song rhythms are different because of heart conditions they were born with. As more of the children we see who need families have medical conditions, more WACAP families are opening their own hearts to those who need special medical care, and many of these children have congenital heart conditions.

‘Why do families adopt kids with heart conditions?’

Why do families adopt kids with heart conditions? One mom I asked looked at me in surprise. “Why?” she asked, “Why not? Our family felt it was manageable, repairable. I know some families have had a harder time than we did; we were lucky.” Others tell stories of how personal experiences with heart issues have given them the confidence they needed to adopt a child with a heart condition.

Currently WACAP is advocating for more than 30 children who have heart conditions, ranging from toddlers to teens “aging out” of adoption this year. In 2017, more than 10% of the children with medical needs matched with families had some type of heart concern. These conditions range from very mild (requiring monitoring but not treatment), to significant (involving multiple surgeries and ongoing medication) and everything in between.

We encourage families to learn more about heart conditions. Rainbow Kids’ offers a great resource to families regarding “Special Needs in Children” that expands on many medical conditions common in international adoption, including heart conditions.

WACAP also strongly suggests families seek a pre-adoption consultation with a doctor who specializes in international medication. It’s critical to get a true medical perspective!

 Additional Resources

Ask us about these kids with heart conditions!

  • Vanessa, a 6-year-old girl in Thailand
  • Clint, a 1-year-old boy in China
  • Honor, a 15-year-old girl in India
  • Sherman, a 4-year-old boy in Taiwan
  • Angie, a 2-year-old girl in Bulgaria
  • Brett, an 11-year-old boy in Taiwan
  • Daria, an 11-year-old girl in China
  • Gwen, a 14-year-old girl in Bulgaria
  • Sherie, a 3-year-old girl in India

India has recently been referring many young children with heart conditions for international adoptions and about 10% of WACAP’s families adopting waiting children in India are adopting those with some form of congenital heart disease.

Currently there are more than 30 children with Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) of all ages on India’s list of waiting children, and Indian babies/toddlers with heart conditions are among those most quickly matched with families.

As one adoption professional observed, “All kids without families have hearts that need to heal on so many levels—the medical care my son needs for his heart condition is just one part of the support and care he needs to develop into the healthy, confident child he’s working so hard to become.”

Want more information?—just ask! WACAP can help you determine if adopting a child with CHD is right for your family. Email FamilyFinders@wacap.org or call me at 206-922-1518.

Jo Reed, Family Finders Manager, mother of two children who will always be my Valentines!


Jo Reed of WACAP's Family Finders Team smilesAbout WACAP’s Family Finders Program Manager, Jo Reed: Jo came to WACAP in 2004 and with her, an unyielding commitment to bringing children and families together. An adoptive parent of two children, Jo is also a daily advocate for every child growing up without permanency. Through her work with WACAP’s Family Finders, she has helped share the stories of thousands of children who needed advocates and a family.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Advocacy, Celebrations, International Adoption, Reflections, WACAP, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breaking News: Intercountry Adoption Affordability

Protecting-Intercountry-Adoption-Affordability

What You Need to Know; What You Can Do

Oversight of adoption is important. It is vital to ensure best practices, maintain integrity, and for accountability regarding our work in the best interests of children. At WACAP, we welcome this accountability, because, like so many adoptive families, we want what is best for children, a permanent family: hopefully a biological family or one who will adopt from within their country of origin. But for the many children who wait in orphanages around the world, intercountry adoption is their only remaining lifeline. It is what motivates us at WACAP, creating a world in which there is a family for every child. To do this well, accountability is needed, and transparency is vital.

Therefore, WACAP is proud of our accreditation by the Council on Accreditation (COA) through January 24, 2021. Last fall, however, COA announced their intent to cease serving as an Accrediting Entity (AE) for the Department of State (DOS). Therefore, during calendar year 2018, we will transfer from COA to Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Maintenance Entity, Inc. (IAAME), which was named by DOS as a new Accreditation Entity in August of 2017.

On February 1, 2018, the Department of State posted a notice of the accreditation fee schedule for IAAME, followed by a conference call on February 5th with Adoption Service Providers (ASPs). As we at WACAP have engaged with other adoption providers and the National Council for Adoption, we find that there is very little clarity in communication regarding this change. We do know that this new fee structure is a drastic increase in accreditation fees for ASPs and, ultimately, for families pursuing Intercountry Adoption. The new fees will go into effect on February 15, 2018, giving us very little time to notify families.

The most significant increase is a “per adoption” monitoring and oversight fee of $500, which must occur at the time of a family’s acceptance into an adoption program. If the family is ultimately matched with a sibling group, additional fees of $500 per additional child will be applied. According to the Department of State and IAAME, these fees are nonrefundable, even if a family withdraws or if their process does not end with a finalized adoption. At WACAP we embrace accountability for everyone and are disappointed that such a significant fee increase was imposed without time allotted for public comment or clarity. 


FAQ

The cost of adoption is already so significant. Why are we increasing fees for families?

DOS has estimated that this reflects only a 1.4% increase in fees for families. WACAP acknowledges that any fee increase puts an increased strain on families working to change the lives of vulnerable children through adoption. WACAP has no control over these fees.

Why is WACAP transitioning from COA to IAAME?

We have no choice. COA’s announcement that they are ending their Memorandum of Agreement with DOS leaves only one Accrediting Entity (AE): IAAME. While WACAP does not currently have a working agreement in place with IAAME, DOS has advised that, in order to provide adoption services, WACAP and all ASPs must work with them.

I have already started the adoption process. Will this affect me?

Unfortunately, this new fee will affect many families who have already begun the adoption process. The fee must be assigned at the point when a family is accepted into an intercountry adoption program. For WACAP, this occurs after a home study is approved and once a family submits signed contracts and pays their first fees related to their specific intercountry adoption program. Please feel free to contact your adoption Program Manager or Case Manager at WACAP if you have questions about your specific case.

How can families get involved?

Advocate. Use Your Voice.

We will be participating in advocacy days on February 7 and 8, in conjunction with the National Council for Adoption (NCFA). If you would like to join us in contacting your US Senators and House Representatives, find more information, including talking points and further instructions, on the NCFA website.

Get Informed. Join Our Conference Call for Families.

In an effort to provide as much transparency and information as possible, I will be hosting two calls for interested families, to provide an overview and allow for Q&A.

These calls will be at:

  •  2 p.m. on Friday, February 9th (PST)
  • 5:30 p.m. on Monday, February 12th (PST)

To join either call:

  • Dial 641-715-3640, using participant code 187278.


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 Virtual Art Walk With Kids Who’ve Inspired Us  

On January 31, many people celebrate “National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day” … and we’re inspired. Join us for an art walk with a few kids we’ve met through “A Family for Me.”

Common to each of their stories is time spent in foster care, resilience in the face of change, and creativity that inspires us all.

Like many of us, they’ve found art to be an important outlet in their lives, using it to express who they are or to learn more about the world.

It’s been our privilege to be advocates for these children and to help them share their stories, their passions, and their many talents.

Decorating-Dessert

Cake decorating – edible art!

Decorating-Shoes

Decorating shoes with 10-year-old KeJuan. Stay tuned at www.wacap.org for KeJuan’s “A Family for Me” video.

Drawing-for-Wood-Project

Sketching out a design for a woodworking project.

Making-Metal-Jewelry

A great day for making metal jewelry.

Painting-Close-Up

A talented painter shows her gift.

Spinning-Clay-Pottery-Wheel

At the pottery wheel.

Theatrical-Makeup

Learning theatrical make-up.


To date, over 60 percent of the children featured on “A Family for Me” have found adoptive homes. If you have questions about adopting a child in foster care, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org. 

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoption Washington, Art, Celebrations, Creative Endeavors, Foster Care, Videos, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adoption FAQ: On Pre-Adoption Preparation and ‘Really’ Being Prepared

Child-Looking-Outside-At-Window-PexelsQ&A With WACAP’s China Team 

Recently, WACAP’s China adoption team was asked how pre-adoption training and preparation correlated to parents’ feeling satisfied and equipped after their adoption.

For everyone on WACAP‘s staff, this question strikes a chord. That’s because – even when families spend months preparing and researching, meeting with their social worker, and completing the training hours required for an adoption – it’s always hard to prepare for something that changes everything.

Below, WACAP’s China adoption staff share about preparing for the kind of change adoption brings, while banking on the understanding and experience that will grow with a family.    


Preparing for What You Can Beforehand: Managed Expectations

After talking with families, here’s what China’s adoption staff observe about the connection between pre-adoption preparation and parents’ feelings of satisfaction after they adopt.

A lot of post-adoptive parental satisfaction has to do with managed expectations, so knowing what to expect is a huge piece of the puzzle.

As they move through the adoption process, WACAP families ­complete a series of required adoption-related trainings and reading. Those most open to learning and applying the information, and those who prepare themselves for all eventualities, tend to feel the most satisfied and equipped after the adoption.

Emotions and Reactions: Harder to Plan For

However, it’s also hard to truly be ‘prepared’ for what adoption is like until you have experienced it yourself. Many adoptive families who’ve completed the training and readings have commented that they ‘thought they’d understood what the adoption would be like … but found it was hard to prepare for their own emotions and their own reactions when the adoption actually took place.’

Speaking From Experience: What No Class Can Do

A WACAP case manager and adoptive mom agrees, sharing an experience from her life.

My own personal experience can speak to why it’s hard to fully anticipate and prepare for our own emotions (even with the planning we’ve done and knowledge we may have).

I had been working at WACAP for several years when we adopted our first son. I’d listened to the trainings many times over. I’d walked hundreds of families through the adoption process.

But there was nothing that could have prepared me for how I’d feel when my then-3-year-old son started winging blocks at my head as hard as he could and laughing when he managed to hit me in the face. Nothing could have told me how I’d feel when he spat in my face and then laughed when we were at the Consulate appointment.

At the time, his behavior worried me, even though I knew things would change with time and I’d seen many other families go through this exact experience.

Now that I know my son better, I know that he deals with his anxiety and fear by laughing hysterically and being very over-active. But all the classes in the world could not have prepared me for how I was going to feel when living in the thick of it in China.


Thanks to China’s adoption staff and to our families for sharing their thoughts and responses for this question. We also welcome your questions at wacap@wacap.org.

 

 

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Advice, International Adoption, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What to Expect, Adoption Style”: One Couple’s Adoption Story

Erin and Joel adopted their son, Carsen, in 2015. Today, he’s a spirited four-year old, and Carsen’s parents can’t imagine their lives without him. Here, their memories take them back through the days just before their adoption and their first night in Nanchang, China – “a night that did not feel so expectant with hope,” they recall – to today … which feels like an unexpected gift.


“What to Expect, Adoption Style”

Adopting From China: One Couple’s Story

Toddler-Smiling-Brick-Backdrop

Tonight is a night like any other. Routine. Normal. I hold Carsen close, freshly bathed and dressed in racecar pajamas. His sisters are tucked into their beds waiting on goodnight kisses, but this ritual belongs only to the two of us. With one arm draped across my shoulder, and the other gripping the curtain of his bedroom window, he takes in the familiar scene: “Goodnight, Daddy’s (Da-you’s) car, goodnight street light, goodnight neighbor’s house, goodnight moon,” he calls in his sweet voice.

My chest tightens as I stare at the moon, full, luminous, and round with expectation. How I have come to treasure such moments with our beloved son. And as I hold him close, moonlight spilling into his darkened room, I am brought back without warning to a night over two years ago and half a world away. A night that did not feel so expectant with hope. Our first night in Nanchang, China, when I, disoriented by jet lag, plagued by fear, and distraught by the new trauma we just imposed on Carsen, crumpled to a heap on the bathroom floor of the hotel and voiced the thought that had been screaming in my head for the past ten hours.

“What if nothing turns out as I expected it?”

With-Parents-at-Table-PaperworkTruth be told, my husband and I traveled to China with our own set of “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” style expectations. However, in the realm of Special Needs, International Adoption, expectations must be unpacked very carefully and handled with extreme caution. In reality, no amount of knowledge acquired through training (which WACAP does exceptionally well!), medical consultations, or blog reading could have prepared us for how we would react once adoption moved from the hypothetical to the real.

Carsen was placed in our arms, and we were flooded with emotions spanning from fear to wonderment and everywhere in between. We felt moments of delight in this tiny person who began showing us glimpses of personality and spirit, while conversely feeling terror over unknown medical diagnoses and prognoses, along with guilt over taking him from the only home he had known. We desperately missed our biological children we’d left behind at home, and we wondered anew how they would react to and connect with this tiny stranger who was now their brother. We were overwhelmed, and in this midst of this raw experience, we questioned if we were even doing the right thing. So we held onto each other, to our son, and we reached for a lifeline. We called WACAP and received kind, informed, and thoughtful encouragement. We conferenced with two wonderful doctors who gave us new insight and action, and we drank in the experiences of other adoptive families we met during our time in China.

In order to move forward, it was time to let go of the expectations that threatened to derail our adoption before it even began.

We expected a son who was deaf and who had CHD.

Toddler-With-Mom-Outside-Brick-BackdropWe compiled pages and pages of handwritten notes, translated and examined progress reports, and logged hours with a local pediatrician who is also an international adoption specialist. Upon meeting Carsen, we were astonished to find that he could, in fact hear. This was impossibly remarkable news. However, we also realized that his craniofacial differences could lead us down a very different diagnostic path than the one we had been anticipating. From the hotel bathroom between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., the only place and time we could find a stable Internet connection, we exchanged countless emails with international adoption specialists in Washington. This point of contact was a lifeline for us while in country. Through this connection, we laid to rest our previous expectations of Carsen’s special needs and exchanged them for equal parts reality and hope.

We found renewed excitement to embark on a fact-finding mission to discover who our son truly was and is. Once home, I prepared an empty two-inch binder with a tab for each of the six specialists he would see initially. This binder, absent of information, spoke volumes to my fear of the unknown. Now, this same binder is a remarkable symbol of just how much he had progressed and accomplished. In fact, he has graduated from the care of four of his six specialists in just over two years and could be described in no other way than thriving, healthy, and happy. The focus has shifted from piecing together the puzzle of Carsen’s medical and special needs to pure enjoyment in the unique and wonderful person he is.

We expected his grief, and we expected to comfort him through it.

We did not expect that we would feel grief so viscerally with him. As we entered the hotel lobby, our terrified and traumatized son was literally thrust into our hands as his nanny and orphanage director ran out the door, late to their next appointment. There was no opportunity for privacy, no opportunity for conversation, no opportunity for transition. The scene unveiling so publically for all hotel guests to see was more kidnapping than homecoming. Knowing we were the cause of Carsen’s grief made us feel like his enemies, not his parents. While we had been prepared for this possibility in training, we were devastated to a degree we could never have anticipated. Once settled into our hotel room, our exhausted son let my husband rock him to sleep. We sobbed together as we held him, broken by the heartbreak that makes adoption necessary, broken by the depth of loss our sweet son had experienced, and left wondering if and how these broken pieces would all fit together. As much as adoption comes from broken places, two years in, we also know it is the work of mending hearts. Watching our son embrace life in all its challenges and rewards gives us renewed faith in the miraculous resiliency that is the human spirit. He has not had an easy road, but he approaches life with joy and love, and that inspires us to do the same.

We expected to love him at once.

Family-Photo-Parents-Four-Kids-Outside-Brick-BackdropAnd we did, truly, love him at first sight, but what’s more lasting and permanent than the emotion of love is a true bond. Bonding is a process that requires time, careful cultivation, and so much patience. My wonderful mother advised me, “Your girls grew within you for nine months before you met. Give Carsen and yourself that same time.” This proved excellent advice. Two and a half years after a love at first sight reaction to a tiny profile picture, Carsen is entwined so fully into our hearts and our family that it would be impossible to imagine our lives without him. It has taken an immense amount of patience and effort. Now, when he holds my face still so that he can look into my eyes and says, “Mommy I love you,” I am blown away by his choice to love, accept, and trust. It is a choice our whole family has made. As to our fear of how Carsen’s three sisters would react? As with any sibling relationship, there are moments of competition and miscommunication, but they are truly his bodyguards in tutus, fiercely protective and fiercely loving. Together, we comprise a faulty, but incredibly loyal unit.

If I could encounter that earlier, fearful version of myself, who wondered if things would be as she had expected, I might wrap my arms around her and tell her, “Absolutely not, Honey, because this child, this experience, will blow your expectations out of the water. It will be harder than you imagined. And it will be costly and painful in many ways. But the surprising joy in the journey will make it all worth it. He is worth it.” But telling her would spoil the surprise, and the greatest gifts in life are always unexpected.

Truth be told, I am grateful to this earlier version of myself because this same set of expectations that left her so rattled in the early days of Carsen’s adoption is also what gave her the energy and idealism to press forward through the lengthy adoption process and towards her incredible son. And while the specialist appointments, IEP meetings, and developmental assessments can be daunting and time consuming at times, she will find herself inspired by her son’s fighting spirit, his grit, and his ability to bring people together.


Our thanks to Erin, Carsen’s mom, for writing this story, and for inviting us all to share in their family’s journey.

If you have questions about adopting from China, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org. We’d be glad to answer your questions.

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“Race for Home”: WACAP Family-Friendly 5K Fun Run This May

“Race for Home” – May 6, 2018

Family-Friendly 5K Fun Run in Seattle’s Seward Park

Race for Home Logo - race participants in motion, seattle skyline with event details: May 6, 2018 at Seward Park.

You’re invited to join us this spring for a family-friendly 5K fun run. All abilities are welcome to run, walk, stroll or roll along with us, and celebrate at the finish line with music, food, fun, child-friendly activities and prizes.


WACAP brings over 40 years of family-building and expertise; you bring your team and enthusiasm for our mission.

Proceeds from “Race for Home,” through corporate sponsorship, individual and team fundraising and entry fees, support the work of WACAP to find permanent homes for children waiting in U.S. Foster Care and internationally.

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Is There a Child Waiting for You?: WACAP’s Partner Countries at a Glance

image-child-looking-through-circle

Is Adoption Right for You?

Do you have questions about the children waiting for families or about the adoption process?

Right now, the need for adoptive parents is great, and currently, many WACAP partner countries are matching children with their families more quickly than we’ve seen in the past!

Here’s what we’re seeing today, plus some highlights about the countries we work with.

Korea

Child-and-Parent-Together-Hugging-Wearing-Blue-and-Orange-WACAP

  • Short wait times (currently we have just one family on our wait list!)
  • Babies 18 months old and younger at time of arrival home
  • All children cared for by experienced foster families rather than institutions

Thailand
Toddler-Playing-Overalls-and-Pink

  • Comparatively short wait time for eligible couples
  • Young children matched between 12 – 36 months old
  • Eligibility guidelines flexible for families open to adopting waiting children

India

  • Toddler-Smiling-Next-To-Stuffed-Animal-Orange-Print-Pillow-WACAPOver 1,300 children waiting for families
  • Sibling groups of all ages
  • Families open to children with medical concerns matched with young children very quickly

China

Child-Smiling-Open-Arms-Button-Down-Blue-Shirt-Yellow-Bowtie-WACAP

  • Families urgently needed for boys
  • Over 3,000 children, 8 months old to 13 years old, are waiting
  • Quick and predictable process

U.S. Foster to Adopt

Video-Chid-Smiling-Sharing-Story-WACAP

  • Washington families needed for children of all ages
  • Quick-moving process for families open to older children
  • For younger children, opportunities for foster care with hopes of adoption
  • Affordable option for families

Bulgaria

Parents-and-Children-Together-Suspension-Bridge-in-Background-WACAP

  • Many older children and older sibling groups need chance to thrive in a new family
  • Flexible requirements for adoptive parents
  • Grants of $1,500 – $3,600 available for many waiting children

Taiwan

Young-Child-in-White-Hat-on-Sunny-Day-WACAP

  • Children as young as 9 months up to 15 years
  • Skype meetings with your child
  • Shorter time required in country
  • Most children cared for in foster families rather than institutions

Haiti

Parents-Hug-Child-Outside-Foliage-WACAP

  • Young children who are considered healthy in need of adoptive families
  • Proximity to U.S. makes for easier travel
  • For single women hoping to adopt, no age restrictions on children

Want to Learn More?

Contact our Adoption Information Team

Meet Children Waiting for Families

 

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoption Washington, Call to Action, Foster Care, Images of Family, Staff/Board Spotlight, Travel, WACAP, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

News Anchor Inspired to Share Her Personal Adoption Story

Just before the holidays, News Anchor Michelle Li — moved by the “A Family for Me” partnership between WACAP and KING 5 — was inspired to tell her personal adoption story.

In this video, she talks about what being adopted, and what finding her birth family has meant for her, sharing the feelings and connections that bring these worlds together.

Michelle Li on KING 5 news set sharing her adoption story

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