Save the Date for WACAP’s Children’s Hope Luncheon!

save the date Paralympian, silver medalist in wheelchair racing and recent contender for Ms. Wheelchair America, WACAP adoptee Maggie Redden inspires active, healthy living while advocating on behalf of the 54 million Americans living with disabilities. Born in India, Maggie contracted polio as an infant, a disease that paralyzed her from the waist down. At age 2, Maggie was adopted by a single mom who encouraged her to follow her dreams. Currently, Maggie is working at a nonprofit organization helping individuals with disabilities gain self-sufficiency while pursuing her Masters of Public Administration.

 If you’re in the Seattle area, Save the date of Thursday, April 30, and join us for lunch at WACAP Children’s Hope Luncheon to hear Maggie’s remarkable story and learn how WACAP continues to help children with disabilities find adoptive families today.

Interested in being a table captain and inviting your friends and family to help support WACAP? Contact us for information.

 

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

Traveling Adventures

Our goal with WACAP’s Impact Blog is to advocate for children in need of a family, show how together we are making a difference for these children, and share the stories of families as they are created and go on to thrive. This playful story by WACAP board member and adoptive mom Laura Templeton, recalls her trip to China to meet her daughter. Providing a glimpse into the experience of traveling, Laura reflects on one aspect that’s sometimes overlooked, especially when in process of adopting internationally: the delight that comes with taking time to investigate the culture around you.


Naturally, when my husband and I headed off for China, our sole focus was on meeting our daughter and bringing her home. Sightseeing was definitely further down the list. And making new friends wasn’t even on the list. As one of several families using the same guide service, we were pleasantly surprised to be plopped down in a group of five fun-loving, adventurous families who knew how to make an emotional or daunting trip in a non-descript city fun.

Much of our fun was meticulously organized by our guide extraordinaire, Wendy. Wendy took care of every detail of our adoption for us, down to ordering room service at the hotel and having cases of bottled water delivered to our rooms. As our guide, she introduced us to the colorful sights and sounds of the marketplace — pets, spices, silks. She led us through crowded jewelry displays and helped us bargain for Year of the Monkey jade pendants. Wendy personally inspected every pearl on the little necklaces we purchased for our daughters. What a privilege it was to know this attentive, caring person. (I would love to always have a Wendy in my life!).

However, some of the differently memorable and fun adventures unfolded when we were on our own—without the guiding hand of our wonderful Wendy. One night, our group WACAP Laura in Chinadecided to go out to dinner and set out in search of an authentic Chinese meal at a local restaurant. Without our guide to make recommendations, we bravely chose the first restaurant that caught our eye and were escorted to a packed dining room.

As newcomers to the traditional cuisine and also to the Chinese language, we took one look at the Chinese language menu and realized that to communicate, we needed to take matters into our own hands in a more creative way. With the blessing of our waiter and the restaurant patrons, we played “How Good is Your Meal?” with the rest of the restaurant guests. Encouraged along by our waiter, it looked something like this: I walked around the restaurant with our waiter and pointed at the guest’s plates. A round of cheering would erupt when I’d choose someone’s dish, and that menu item would be added to our order. When we’d been introduced to most of the visually interesting entrees in the dining room, our waiter allowed us into the kitchen. There, I pointed out some leeks, tomatoes and a duck hanging from the ceiling, and made the universal sign for “please whip something up,” not quite knowing what to expect.

The result was duck soup. There was no doubt about that, because of the webbed feet and beak floating in the bowl (i.e., a dish we’d later learn was a standard on many Chinese menus). But for those first few instants of culinary surprise and discovery, we knew we’d been given license to exchange our adult “international sophistication” for child-like delight. So we allowed ourselves a moment to “play and explore,” inspecting the floating pieces and posing with the beak — and to truly experience the evening, with wonder and joy. I can’t recall how any of the food tasted, but the dining experience was pure pleasure.


When you travel to meet your child, make sure to enjoy the entire experience. Soak up the culture so you can share it with your child in the future. Bring your sense of adventure, make memories, and find ways to enjoy what’s around you.

In what ways are you excited or anxious about traveling? Leave a comment to this post, or email us.

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What’s stopping you?

Jo Reed of WACAP's Family Finders Team smiles

Jo Reed of WACAP’s Family Finders Team

Jo Reed, manager of WACAP’s Family Finders, talks about how WACAP is bringing hope to children who are waiting — and one of the ways we’re reducing barriers, like cost, to help bring families together.

Every day, I come to work thinking about families. In fact, I search for them — online, by phone, via email. At WACAP, our Family Finders team has over 300 children for whom we are actively looking for families at any given time.

Through this work, there are some things I have learned:

  • Every child deserves a family. The teenager, the child with missing limbs, the child who is HIV positive, the sibling groups. All types of children are waiting, and they need all types of families.
  • When you focus on finding families for children (rather than the opposite approach), the children win … and families thrive.
  • There are amazing families in our midst, willing to commit to a child or children whom others have overlooked; we love these families!
  • WACAP is committed to minimizing, as much as possible, any barriers that stand between children and permanent families.
Jo at her desk, helping bring children and families together

Jo at her desk, helping bring children and families together

One of the most significant barriers we see is the financial challenge for many families. At WACAP, we know that there are families out there who would move forward with adoption if the costs weren’t so high. More than being just “qualified” to adopt a child, these families are also uniquely capable of loving, nurturing, protecting and meeting the needs of a child. But that initial hurdle of adoption costs discourages many from the process.

With this in mind, I am delighted to let you know that recent donations to WACAP are helping us make an even bigger impact … and bring more children home. If you, or someone you know, has thought about adoption but didn’t pursue it because of cost, I encourage you to take a look at our waiting child page.

WACAP Waiting Child Page, Extra Grant Assistance

Many of our children are regularly assigned grants that will reduce the costs of adoption for families. With these recent donations, even more grant dollars have been assigned to specific children. (On the waiting child page, look for a designation in red that says “Extra Grant Assistance.”)

What are you waiting for? Go meet them!

We want to know!
Have you ever wanted to adopt, but stopped? What has discouraged you from starting the process? Leave a comment here on the blog, on Facebook or email us.

Posted in Adoption, Foster Care, International Adoption, Philanthropy, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get Ready for It . . .

Little girl with cleft smiles

Abigail’s joyful smile after coming home to her family in 2012

We get excited, here at WACAP, when talk turns to children coming home. It’s really something. Where once their world was marked by the temporary, soon everything will become permanent. They will come home to family.

Quick, what images are playing in your head as you read the words above? For most people, their minds reflexively go to receiving blankets and diapers, from institutional infant rooms to a personalized nursery. I love those images.

I also love the images I hear described in the halls of the WACAP offices. These depict exceptional children, full of potential, with missing limbs, facial deformities, or siblings who need to be adopted together. Just talking to my coworkers, it’s not hard to see how much they are in love with these children, and how much they believe in each one. In the same way, I find myself drawn to advocate for older children, way past diapers, who are way too cool to really let you see how their lives will change because of a forever family.

The hard truth of these stories is that these children face many hurdles between the temporary and the permanent. No problem. WACAP has their back. Make no mistake, though: on this issue, WACAP isn’t your everyday adoption agency. In our work, we see obstacles. But we know they can be overcome, and lives changed. We’re on the hunt for families who are on the hunt for an exceptional child.

And we have an announcement coming. It’s going to be great.  Children will be coming home.

I’m excited.


WACAP CEO at orphanage in Africa, children gather smilingAbout WACAP’s CEO, Greg Eubanks: Greg joined WACAP as CEO in December 2014. Serving children and families has been the focus and passion of his 20-year career in nonprofit executive leadership and business administration. With an extensive background in international adoption and foster care, Greg is committed to bringing hope to the children living without a family … and helping them home.

Posted in Adoption, Foster Care, From the CEO, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming Back to Compassion

Kate Leigh, foster care licensor at WACAP

Kate Leigh, WACAP’s foster care licensor

Foster care licensor Kate Leigh works with US Kids, a WACAP program helping families across the U.S. adopt children from state foster care. Here, Kate offers a unique look into what’s on the other side of the paperwork and process …

In adoption, it’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. In such a complex process of paperwork, signatures, trainings, and policies, one can feel frustrated and overwhelmed. And that’s all just to get through the first couple of steps!

As the foster care licensor at WACAP, I work with families throughout what sometimes becomes the most challenging part of the adoption process for those adopting a child from state foster care — obtaining a foster care license.

When a family is adopting a child from state foster care, one of those important steps is becoming foster care licensed in their home state.  A foster home license is necessary because often, children are in need of a foster home while courts and state social workers determine an adoption plan for the child. To keep children from having to endure too many upheavals, it’s best when this foster home can be provided by the family who plans to adopt the child.

For families who live in Washington state, my job is to act as a liaison between the family and the state to complete the paperwork for the homestudy, and then a foster home license.

One of my favorite aspects of my work is meeting all the families when they are just starting the adoption process with WACAP. Oftentimes this is not the true beginning of their adoption journey and each family has a unique story, but it is always refreshing to hear how they arrived at this point and where they hope to be. Although our families vary in so many ways, the consistent trait that continues to amaze me is their profound compassion. Foster care adoption is not for the faint-hearted; there are unpredictable ups and downs and some truly challenging situations. So to see these families coming into this process with such positive energy and zeal is beyond noteworthy.

Fast forward from that point to the hard parts that sometimes occur delays in background checks, updates to a homestudy when a family’s circumstance has changed, waiting to be matched with a child or waiting for the courts to approve the adoption. One family comes to mind who, after their paperwork was completed, hit one roadblock right after another. Some initial delays in state processing and requests for documents to be resubmitted, along with some additional complications, added several months onto this family’s process. There were times where they were very close to giving up, feeling like there would never be any progress. With patience and persistence we got through the paperwork and obtained the license. After the months and months of frustration, they were matched with a 7-year-old boy, and I think we all have already forgotten how tedious the process had been.

There are parts of the process, in addition to the licensing, that can seem overwhelmingly difficult or frustrating, but I urge anyone who is somewhere throughout the adoption process (whether that is having gone through it or thinking about starting), to come back to the compassion.

Fast forward once again to the incredible joy of developing a family in such a uniquely intentional way, and the packets of paperwork won’t seem so burdensome. I’d like to say an enormous thank you to all the families that contribute in one way or another to this community and provide safe, loving homes for children who need them.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, Domestic Adoption, Foster Care, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oh, For Just One More Chance. . .

By Greg Eubanks, WACAP CEO

Birds leaving nextOver the past few years, my sweet wife and I have seen three of our “chicks” (ages 24, 21, and 19 – all from adoption) leave the nest.

A few days ago, I was reminiscing about these transitions while sitting in on a WACAP training about grief and loss in the world of adoption. One of the points the trainer made sure to emphasize was the struggles that can occur when children who’ve been adopted make the transition to adulthood.

Think of it: they leave home. If you were a child of adoption who has known multiple caregivers and living situations, what memories & fears might this normal rite of passage spark in you?  As an adoptive parent, are you prepared for this?

Regardless of the kind of parent you’ve been, and considering your successes and failures, I think we all wish we could go back in time and be allowed some “do-overs.”  If you could, what are some of the messages you would plant in your child’s psyche (or re-plant, fertilize and water)?
Here are mine:

1. You are wonderful.  Every last bit of you.  Really, awesome.  Well done!
2. We aren’t wired the same, you and I – and that is just fine.  It’s one of the many things I love about knowing you.
3. Your path to adulthood doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
4. Our home is your home.  Always.
5. No matter what, we are a family (and our family sticks together, no matter what).

Was your child’s “emancipation” a part of your adoption training?  Are you ready?  “Grief and Loss in Adoption” is just one of many webinar trainings that WACAP offers. Visit the WACAP website to learn more about the variety of classes available to pre- and post-adoptive families.
For you wise parents who have walked this road, what lessons would you share?


Greg Eubanks joined WACAP as CEO in December. He is a 20-year veteran in nonprofit executive leadership, foster care, and adoption. He asked and received permission from his children for this post. Follow him on twitter @gregeubanks, and WACAP @adopt_an_orphan

Posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, Domestic Adoption, From the CEO, International Adoption, Support Services | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Every Day, It’s Worth It.

Julie and family at beach

Julie Snyder, WACAP’s Director of Communications, on vacation with her family.

By Julie Snyder, Director of Communications

As WACAP’s Director of Communications, I have the pleasure of overseeing the organization’s marketing, advertising, media relations and social media – as well as communications with our pre-adoptive and adoptive families, and the many prospective adoptive parents who contact WACAP each month. Like most positions at WACAP, it’s a big job with a small budget. We rely on viral marketing and word-of-mouth to help us spread the word about what we do, and the many children who need families. My friends and acquaintances often remark that they would have a hard time working in my position. They feel it would be too sad, or too hard, to think about the world’s most vulnerable children every day. To them I say this: “It IS hard, but it is also worth it—every day.” Even on the tough days, when there’s not enough money for a project I’d like to take on—or there are negative adoption stories headlining the news, it’s worth it. Even knowing that some children will grow up without ever being adopted, and that some may not survive life in an orphanage due to disease or untreated medical conditions, it’s still worth it.

All I have to do is look at my six-year-old daughter, the strongest person I know, a little girl who was born in China not only prematurely, but with a wide open cleft lip and palate. Today she is a thriving kindergartener, who loves all things “princess” and who’s biggest worry over the last year has been what to be for Halloween (and yep, she chose Elsa!)

It’s true, all of the children for whom we find families have experienced deep loss, and sometimes we look at their files and we do see sadness. But more often, we see potential! Sometimes we see the faces of our own children when we look these kids’ files. We see medical issues that can be treated (and sometimes overcome completely) through modern medicine. We see developmental challenges that can be addressed with therapy treatments and the one-on-one attention that a family offers. We see the opportunity for education, nutrition, stability, and – most importantly – the love that only a family can provide.

In WACAP’s Communications department, we feel extremely fortunate to hear about children and families united through adoption every day. Children who, in many cases, were not considered “adoptable” until WACAP made a promise to find them a family.

So yes, it’s all worth it…every day.


Help spread the word about the great work WACAP does! Share your thoughts by reviewing WACAP on websites like Yelp, Adoption.com, Adoption Agency Ratings, Dex Knows and Google Places.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, International Adoption, Reflections, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stressed Out Over One Bad Call

This past week, the Dallas Cowboys lost to Green Bay in a very close NFC playoff game. Many have pointed fingers at NFL officiating, and a particular call on a pass from quarterback Tony Romo to Dez Bryant. Ruled an incomplete pass at the Packers’ one yard line, the decision was certainly controversial.

Green Bay v. Dallas NFC playoff game controversial call at one-yard line

This moment in the Green Bay v. Dallas NFC playoff game has what to do with adopting?

Here’s what interests me, though. In his post-game press conference, Dallas Coach Jason Garret, shared his take on the game and the impact of this particular play.

“Let me be clear, this game was not about officiating,” Garrett stated. “We had sixty minutes.”

It is so easy to focus on the one glaring failure, the one major injustice, or the one missed opportunity. I’ve always been afraid, as a dad of both biological and adopted kids, that one flippant remark, one absence, one misplaced disciplinary decision, would forever fail my child.

As parents, though, we have a lifetime to invest into our children. Our children’s future is determined not by a few select moments, but by commitment over time, through triumph and in spite of missteps.

So if you are a struggling mom or dad, keep at it. You haven’t ruined anything, and it’s never too late to redeem the struggle for your child. Adoption will certainly bring more than anyone’s share of struggles, including children, parents and extended family members.

For those of you waiting to be parents, the process can seem to have its share of bad officiating. Wait for it, though. You’ll meet your child and then laugh at the obstacles you overcame.

Adoption is sometimes worthy of every clichéd description assigned to it. Let’s agree to look past the bad calls and remain focused on the entire “sixty minutes of the game.”


If you would like to help a child know the love of a family, whether by becoming an adoptive parent, volunteering with WACAP or offering your financial support to help bring children home, contact WACAP at wacap@wacap.org.

About WACAP’s New CEO: Joining WACAP in December, Greg Eubanks brings with him a passion for serving children and families that has been at the heart of his professional career since he began as a case manager and family therapist in the mid-90s. He comes to WACAP a 20-year veteran in nonprofit executive leadership and business administration with extensive experience in international adoption and foster care. Alongside WACAP’s community of families and supporters, Greg is committed to bringing hope to the children living without a family … and helping them home.

 

Posted in Adoption, From the CEO, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Adoption Plans Change

By Megan Cook Nikiema, Africa Programs Supervisor

WACAP Megan

Megan Cook Nikiema, WACAP’s Africa Programs Supervisor

There is a lot of anticipation and excitement as we prepare for a future that will change our lives and the lives of a child forever. We set forth on a path and prepare for the process. It is hard to imagine things not turning out as planned.

At the same time, it is no surprise that adoptions are complicated and involve a lot of moving pieces. Both domestic and international adoptions start with a very difficult situation and are processed through various levels of location, politics, bureaucracy, and cross cultural communication. Given all of this, changes and adjustments seem bound to happen. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot- how do we process these differences in our plans?

Changes in adoption plans occur in many different ways. As an example, let’s take a family who was waiting to be matched with a child in the Democratic Republic of Congo when they happened across a profile for a waiting child in India, and felt like this child was the right fit for their family. No doubt, a tremendous amount of consideration went into switching up their original plans to adopt from the DRC but in the end, they were excited to pursue this child in India. Some might consider that it was their original adoption plans to adopt from the DRC that lead the family to this particular child in India.

However, change isn’t always initiated by the adoptive family. Sometimes, change comes to you…

Most often, the adoption process is fairly smooth and where it may involve a couple bumps in the road (delays in the timeframe, changing document requirements, an extra report required before a court date can take place, etc.) the bulk of the adoption process occurs as the family imagined and in the end, they bring home a child or children that will change their lives forever! But  there are also times when a country needs to revise their adoption laws and requirements, resulting in a slow down of children being matched with families. The pre-adoptive families are left to make hard choices- continue to wait it out or consider other options. Where a family may feel a deep commitment to adopting from a particular country, of course they also have a goal to grow their family. So, waiting during long delays without end in sight isn’t ever an easy task or part of the plan.

Although there are plenty of programs where adoption is going well and the country is stable (US domestic adoptions included), we have always seen, especially over the past 5 years- a LOT of situations where countries are redefining their adoption laws or changing their process to provide greater supports to children. Improvements to the adoption process is always something that WACAP will support but the wait for families (and children) can be so hard, especially since most of these delays come without warning.

Families finding themselves in this tight spot are trying to decide what to do. There is no right answer and each family has their own unique take on what delays might mean for their family. In such a circumstance, I’m proud of the creativity WACAP has been able to employ to help families navigate what is best for them. Even still, we know that change is just always hard.

A colleague shared this article from the Rainbow Kids website a few years ago. I love it. It’s an important message for all of us but it helps highlight a bit of what all of us do here at WACAP and what we help families do as they navigate their adoptions! The idea of “stretching” is really fitting: our expectations don’t always meet reality and we often have to stretch and grow and adjust to make room for what lies ahead.

Here’s to the growth and change coming around the bend!

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Families Who Commit and Their Powerful Stories

Meet WACAP’s new CEO, Greg Eubanks, as he talks about the uniqueness of each adoption story, and the process of writing the wonderful story of family.


New WACAP CEO at orphanage in Africa, children gather smiling

WACAP’s new CEO Greg Eubanks surrounded by smiles during a visit to an orphanage in Africa

I’m new to WACAP, but not to the adoption world. The stories never get old.  Adoptions come in as many different versions as do ice crystals, and it always changes me somewhat to realize that a child’s life is forever altered by the experience of folding into a new family.

As an adoptive dad, and as someone who has known and loved children and teenagers who’ve been welcomed home from orphanages and foster care, I really must acknowledge the pain that exists right alongside the joy in adoptees. This is a hard reality for us to bear. Regardless of how firmly attached a child is with their new, wonderful, nurturing, forever family, there was once another. One who wasn’t. One who couldn’t. One who has left a long shadow over a child’s security and sense of identity.

So, when I think of my new role at WACAP, I want to say this to the adoptive families within our circle, and to our incredible community of supporters:

Thank you for committing so ferociously to your children, whatever may come, and helping us reach the children still waiting to belong to a family.

One adult adoptee I know, who was adopted as a toddler, told me once about sleep problems she experienced throughout adolescence, and waking up nightly with the overwhelming fear that her adoptive family would have sneaked away in the overnight hours, leaving her alone all over again.

Another adoptive family tells the story of the first few days with their son and their efforts to help him understand that family meant he wouldn’t be left alone. Even when his dad was in the next room, this child’s eyes would well up with anxious tears. “So I taught him how to call me if he was lonely. After that,” this WACAP dad says, “a soft voice would sometimes call, ‘Paaaaw-py.’ And I’d be there.”

Being there for your children, whether biological or adopted, is tough, tough work. And, by the way, it’s also pretty wonderful.

How has your story unfolded?


About WACAP’s New CEO: Joining WACAP in December, Greg Eubanks brings with him a passion for serving children and families that has been at the heart of his professional career since he began as a case manager and family therapist in the mid-90s. He comes to WACAP a 20-year veteran in nonprofit executive leadership and business administration with extensive experience in international adoption and foster care. Alongside WACAP’s community of families and supporters, Greg is committed to bringing hope to the children living without a family … and helping them home.

If you would like to help a child know the love of a family, whether by becoming an adoptive parent, volunteering with WACAP or offering your financial support to help bring children home, contact WACAP at wacap@wacap.org.

Posted in Adoption, Domestic Adoption, Foster Care, From the CEO, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment