An Update on Adoptions from the DRC

In 2013, WACAP launched our adoption program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  We were off to a great start serving children in need when the Congolese government enacted a suspension on exit permits.  So for children whose adoptions into US families had been finalized by Congolese courts, this meant it was impossible for them to leave the country with their new parents.

The past two and half years have been so incredibly trying for the children and families hoping to be matched or who were matched and nervously waiting for their case to be approved so their children could come home.

For several of our families (and waiting children), waiting through the suspension added a level of stress that could seem unbearable. Despite this, there was an unwavering commitment and very recently 3 WACAP families have finally brought their children home!

DRC home

Currently in the DRC, we continue to wait for changes to the adoption process.  The Congolese government really cares about improving the system to safeguard children, birth families and adoptive parents.  The process is slow and it is difficult to know when the new laws will be passed by the Congolese Parliament and then formally implemented.  For now, WACAP remains watchful and ready to move forward with cases as soon as we feel that a clear path is before us.  In the meantime, we are focused on providing support for the new laws and procedures that are in process of being created, discussed, debated and (hopefully) passed and implemented.

To all the families who are in the DRC program- we salute your tenacity and commitment to the children of the DRC! While we encourage you to consider other WACAP program options, we stand ready to move forward when possible.

To the 3 wonderful families who have come home with their children- at long last- we celebrate with you and feel tremendous joy as we think about your unwavering dedication to bring your kids home.

What an honor it is to work with such wonderful parents!

MeganAbout WACAP’s African and Haitian Programs Supervisor, Megan Cook Nikiema: Megan Cook-Nikiema has been a part of WACAP’s team for over 10 years, working in multiple programs during that time. Most recently, she has been a wonderful resource to families pursuing adoption from Ethiopia, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  At the end of May, Megan will leave WACAP.  We know she will see great success, and she will be greatly missed.  We look forward, along with Megan, to whatever the future may bring.

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­National Foster Care Month: “Willing to Open Their Hearts”

The month of May is designated National Foster Care Month. As WACAP focuses on finding permanency for every child growing up without a family, we appreciate the many people in our communities who are committed to creating that opportunity for children from the start, stepping forward to foster children temporarily while the child’s future path remains unclear. WACAP’s “A Family for Me” Coordinator, Denise Russell, regularly has the opportunity to meet­­ and witness local foster families in action and here’s what she has to say:

At WACAP we know that foster parents not only manage all the usual appointments and activities that come with having children at home, but they also spend countless hours supporting their foster children during a time that’s often filled with transition and loss, talking with counselors and caseworkers, meeting with doctors and teachers…. To say these families are busy would be an understatement! So we really appreciate when a foster parent can accompany a child who’s participating in one of our “A Family for Me” video shoots. A foster parent’s presence provides comfort and reassurance for the kids as we get to know them and learn more about what they hope for in a family. (By featuring these kids through A Family for Me, we’ve seen these videos make an incredible difference in finding their future adoptive families.)

Three siblings laughing while filmed for whirleyball

Siblings Destiny, Xzavier, and Dezeray enjoy Whirleyball in their A Family for Me video

I will never forget Destiny, Xzavier, and Dezeray’s foster parents. When we decided to film Whirleyball as an activity, they brought these three siblings, plus their older sister and three other foster kids, so that everyone could participate. They came in two separate vehicles and traveled quite a distance to meet up with us. To me, it was a mystery how both foster parents arrived relaxed and in good humor!

Over and over again, foster parents have been willing to dive right in to help us out. They’ve been up for jumping into bumper cars, strapping on roller skates, climbing on jungle gyms, and many have even made a last minute run to the store so their foster child could wear something new for the experience. But mostly what they have provided is encouragement. We always try to plan an activity that will light up the kids and appeal to their interests and personalities. Like all parents, foster moms and dads always seem happy to see the kids happy. And perhaps they feel it even more, knowing the history of their foster child and having seen the scars of it.

Child smiles with his foster mom encouraging him during WACAP video shoot

Alex receives his foster mom’s encouragement

For non-verbal children, foster parents have helped us with a willingness to speak about the child on camera. When they do, it’s always with candor, enthusiasm, and a deep commitment. Their comments are so often about how much the children have added to their lives. Like Alex’s foster mom, who said, “I just think he’s amazing. My husband loves him to death. We think that whoever adopts him will be very blessed.”

Sometimes, foster parents are not able to make it to our video shoots, and that gives the kids a different opportunity to speak very openly. Like, Dulce, who said, “We have our ups and our downs, bad days, good days. But we have a really good bond.” And 15-year-old, Delontea who explained that “you kind of get attached.”

I marvel at the bravery of foster parents to care for, and take on the responsibility, of a child that has experienced extreme heartache and quite often, trauma. To me, they’ve conquered the fear of everyday parental imperfection in order to provide shelter, protection, and stability for a child. They are willing to open their hearts and homes for kids that are not only dealing with the normal challenges of growing up, but also fragile healing from the past, and a profound uncertainty of their future. At the same time, foster parents know that these kids may be adopted. When that happens, they will help them gather their clothes and toys and prepare them for life with their forever family. And then their home will change again, with the energy of that child exiting, and the complexity of another child arriving; creating more memories and requiring more love and comfort.

Denise-Russell-WACAP-A-Family-For-Me-Program-Coordinator-2016-05About WACAP’s “A Family for Me Program Coordinator,” Denise Russell:
Denise joined WACAP in 2013 and in her first three years, interviewed over 90 foster children, helping create adoption outreach videos for each child. An adoptee herself, Denise feels a special connection with every child she meets. Interacting daily with dedicated caseworkers and foster parents, and being so welcomed by the committed businesses and community members involved, she finds even the video planning process is magical. Outside of work, Denise enjoys “laughing a lot with her handy and hard-working husband, their two entertaining and opinionated sons” and the family’s two “goofy” Labradors.

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Saturday Snapshot

During WACAP’s Visit to China 2016, a young girl, wearing a colorful sweatshirt and playing on her orphanage’s piano, faces sideways happily and brings her hands to the sides of her face.In April, WACAP’s five-person staff and volunteer team traveled to China, where they visited partner orphanages and learned how to be the best advocate they could for each child. While at one orphanage, they met this young girl and captured a photo of her at the piano, just as she is turning to raise her hands to her face in happy surprise.

Every child should have an audience. Every child deserves an advocate. Every child needs a family. Every day.

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Investing in the Power of Family

Today, WACAP is participating in GiveBIG, a one-day, online giving event hosted by our friends at the Seattle Foundation. When you make a donation today, a percentage of that donation will be matched by the Seattle Foundation and their team of sponsors. It’s a great opportunity to watch your investment in WACAP go further toward transforming the life of a child!

GiveBIG video capture

All GiveBIG gifts will go into our Every Child Fund, and fuel our work to find families for children who wait. This work, advocating for children and finding their families, is 100% donor funded. There has never been a better time to join hands with WACAP and GiveBIG for kids!

Thank you for GivingBIG!!



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How We Work: The Every Child Fund

FD MossRecently you may have heard us mention that 92% of the children we served last year had a specific need related to being older than 5 years, having medical or developmental diagnoses, having a history of abuse/neglect, or having siblings. Without an organization like WACAP, these children might have no one in their corner, and life is hard without a family. WACAP’s Every Child Fund fuels efforts ensuring that all children, regardless of age, location or health status, have a chance at joining a permanent and loving family.

When you donate to the Every Child Fund, it enables WACAP to reduce or eliminate barriers that stand between a child and their future family. With the aid of this fund we’re able to:

  • Advocate: Many potential adoptive families have never considered adopting a child with special medical or developmental needs. WACAP works on behalf of these children, to match them with the permanent families they deserve.
  • Innovate: WACAP employs technology, social media and networking to find new ways to spread the word about children who continue to wait for families.
  • Connect: our dedicated team of family finders is able to reach out to hundreds of potential families for a child with the click of a button, through online and special interest groups, and our own network of previous adoptive families.
  • Create: Our staff and volunteers compile medical and background information, as well as photos and videos to create a compelling file for each child in need of a family.
  • Fund: When finances are the last remaining barrier between a child and their family, these resources will make permanency a real possibility.

Image of children and families embracing overlaid with the text 11,400 lives forever changed, the number of children WACAP has placed since 1976 inception.Over the last 40 years, WACAP has found families for over 11,400 children. Without WACAP’s advocacy work, many of these children might still be languishing in orphanages or foster care. WACAP has seen success finding families for children with needs such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and limb differences along with many other medical and developmental needs. WACAP is also known for our success in moving quickly to find families for children at risk of aging out of orphanage care.

At the heart of the Every Child Fund is WACAP’s belief that there truly is a family for every child, and with the right people and the right tools in place, that family can always be found.

headshot of WACAP Vice President of Fund Development Mary DuncanAbout WACAP’s Vice President of Fund Development, Mary Duncan: Mary Duncan first volunteered with WACAP in 1993, working at an orphanage in Romania and soon after, joined WACAP’s staff as a case manager. Also an adoptive aunt and adoptive sister, Mary continued to serve children and families at WACAP as a supervisor in adoption programs and in family recruitment. Now as Vice President of Fund Development, she enjoys the opportunity to interact with donors and supporters and sharing about WACAP’s transformational work for children.

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The Heart of Every Orphanage

This week, WACAP’s travels in China continued. China Case Manager Lindsey Gilbert shares her thoughts about those who care for children as they wait.

At the heart of every orphanage are the nannies, the people caring day and night for children who have no one else. So often I see people lament the care and conditions in orphanages, and it’s true that no orphanage is a replacement for a family. However, in all my visits to orphanages I haven’t seen a lack of caring. In fact, I see women who care deeply for the children they are entrusted with, who are doing all they can to meet the needs of children, often in spite of understaffing and limited resources.


A nanny in China provides care and comfort to a child who waits for a family

In Liaocheng, the first orphanage we visited, volunteer physical therapist Pat Marcus had been asked to do a training in the afternoon to help them provide better care to children with cerebral palsy. When we came into the room, instead of just a few physical therapists it appeared that every nanny in the orphanage had come! They were all so eager to know how to help their children thrive and achieve more.


Nannies learn physical therapy skills from WACAP volunteer Pat Marcus

In every orphanage we’ve visited, we have brought a photo book of children from that orphanage who are now home. Every time we hand it over to the nannies they all crowd around, so thrilled to see how the children they love are doing now. I love hearing them call out each name as they turn the page, commenting to each other how this one’s hair has grown and that one has gotten chubby! Whether it’s the nanny who holds a baby every time he sleeps because the doctor says it’s bad for him to cry while recovering from surgery, or the nannies who clap with excitement when they hear that  the first child with Down syndrome from their orphanage has been matched with a family, it’s clear that in all these places, these children are deeply loved. In the greatest act of love, these caregivers are the ones preparing the children for adoption, showing them photos of their new mothers and fathers, and ultimately helping them into their new families.


Seeing photos of children they once cared for brings joy to a group of nannies

LindseyGilbertAbout China Case Manager Lindsey Gilbert: Lindsey became a member of WACAP’s China team in 2011, after joining WACAP as a volunteer. She’s helped numerous families through their adoption process, and now dedicates her time to advocating for waiting children and matching them with families. In addition to her work with waiting children, she manages WACAP’s Thailand program. When not at work, Lindsey can be found in the garden, on a hiking trail, or volunteering to help others, with husband Geoff and dogs Quincy and Ross by her side.

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WACAP Staff and Volunteers Visit China This April

“These children will capture our hearts for weeks. And for long after the trip is over.”
Pat, WACAP Volunteer (April 8, 2016)

Arriving in China’s Shandong province about a week ago, WACAP’s staff/volunteer team will be traveling through late April. For all of them, it’s already been a busy trip … but filled with the kinds of opportunities that transform lives.

As they visit WACAP’s partner orphanages, they will continue to meet with orphanage officials and help to equip caregivers by offering requested training and support. Most importantly, they’ll make a difference for children who need an advocate today and a family forever.

Joining China Case Manager Lindsey Gilbert on this trip is WACAP’s staff liaison in China, Michael, and three WACAP volunteers:

  • Berkely, a doctor and adoptive parent, who is sharing his invaluable medical expertise as staff meet with children.
  • Lori, a parent/advocate, whose is using her creative background in photography to help capture each child’s personality and story.
  • Pat, a physical therapist and educator, who is teaching orphanage caregivers ways they can best support children with cerebral palsy. (The orphanages requested that WACAP provide this training as part of the visit, so that caregivers could help the children reach their fullest potential while in care and after joining an adoptive family.)

We’re grateful for what each volunteer is bringing to this trip, as well as the coordination and commitment of our staff in China.

Please watch for more accounts and photos from China in the coming days!

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How We Work: The Fund for US Kids

photo of child adopted through WACAPEver since WACAP started finding families for kids forty years ago, we’ve been committed to working on behalf of children living in foster care. We’re able to do this work through our Fund for US Kids.

Children living in foster care are some of our society’s most vulnerable—and most overlooked—members. According to the Dave Thomas Foundation, nearly half of the American population believes incorrectly that these children are in care because of delinquent behavior. The truth is that children are removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect, through no fault of their own. When it’s not safe for these children to return to their families, an adoptive family needs to be found. The outlook for children who leave foster care without a family is bleak—they are less likely to finish high school or gain employment, and more likely to become homeless or develop addictions. Adoption flips these statistics, and that’s why we work to find more families for more kids who wait in the foster care system. Donations to the Fund for US Kids enable us to:

  • Use strategies to dispel myths and tell the truth about children in foster care—that they’re smart, funny, creative and caring children who need and deserve the love of a family.
  • Talk with families one at time, sharing all the reasons why adoption from foster care is a wonderful way to build a family.
  • Engage volunteers to use technology and social media to spread the word that children in our own backyards need families.
  • Network with state social workers to get to know children’s individual needs, so we King 5 WACAP A Family for Meare better able to find not just a family, but the right family.
  • Continue our work on “A Family for Me,” our award winning, multimedia, specialized family recruitment partnership with King 5 Television.
  • Continuously improve how we support families after foster care placement through to the finalization of each child’s adoption and beyond.

At the heart of the Fund for US Kids is WACAP’s belief that there truly is a family for every child, and with the right people and the right tools in place, that family can always be found.

headshot of WACAP Vice President of Fund Development Mary DuncanAbout WACAP’s Vice President of Fund Development, Mary Duncan: Mary Duncan first volunteered with WACAP in 1993, working at an orphanage in Romania and soon after, joined WACAP’s staff as a case manager. Also an adoptive aunt and adoptive sister, Mary continued to serve children and families at WACAP as a supervisor in adoption programs and in family recruitment. Now as Vice President of Fund Development, she enjoys the opportunity to interact with donors and supporters and sharing about WACAP’s transformational work for children.

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11,400 Lives

Image of children and families embracing overlaid with the text 11,400 lives forever changed, the number of children WACAP has placed since 1976 inception.This year, we are celebrating WACAP’s 40th Anniversary. Wow. 40 years of bringing together families with the children who so desperately need them. Over 11,400 children have come home to parents who love them, to new siblings, to forever. I’m not sure I can even wrap my mind around it.

Having recently returned from a trip where I visited children living in orphanages, the transformation isn’t subtle. No, the transformation adoption brings for a child is miraculous. Adoption wipes away the barriers to education, to healthcare, or clean water.

Transracial families will tell you how adoption has completely rewired their views on racial reconciliation. And many adopted persons will tell you that, though adoption can never erase the loss or relieve the grief that comes from losing one’s biological connections, it creates the opportunity to grieve and to heal.

In the past decade, international adoptions have been in significant decline. Our work continues. And we remain steadfast on behalf of the children whom others might overlook. See how our international adoptions compare to the curve of adoptions to the USA from other countries, according to the U.S. State Department statistics:

Line graph comparing the pattern over the last 10 years in international adoptions to U.S. overall (declined) vs. WACAP adadoptions (stable)

U.S. Department of State: Intercountry Adoptions to United States 2005-2015 “Curve” compared to WACAP adoptions over that same period

We at WACAP are humbled by the legacy we’ve inherited. We are committed to continuing this work for those children who have no one to be their champion. Until a child joins a new, permanent family through adoption, we will be his champion. We will advocate on behalf of her need to belong.

Stand with us. Help us seek out families, prepare them to adopt, and provide adopted persons and their families the support they’ll need as they move ahead.

We have more to do. Let’s do it together.

WACAP CEO at orphanage in Africa, children gather smiling

About 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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How We Work: The Strong Families Fund

For several years now, I’ve had the privilege of working with the wonderful donors who fund the work we do. Because these donors give so generously and invest in our work, we’ve recently streamlined the ways in which we put these funds to work. If you donate through our website, you may notice that you have the option of designating your gift to one of five different funds. Over the coming months, I’ll be sharing more about each of these funds, and how they’re used to move us forward. Today I’d like to talk about our work building strong families.

The Strong Families Fund fuels our work supporting families before, during, and after their adoption has taken place. We take a multi-faceted approach to helping families through the ups and downs, the joys and challenges that all adoptive families face. By donating to the Strong Families Fund, you contribute to our success in the following areas:

Preparing families for adoption

photo of Zia Freeman

WACAP social worker Zia Freeman, who helps families prepare for adoption.

In the beginning, the adoption process can seem pretty overwhelming. There are piles of forms to fill out, appointments to be made, and research to be done. In addition to these nitty gritty details, there’s so much to learn about bringing a child into your family, and what you need to do to be ready. WACAP offers both in person and online training opportunities, helping to set families up emotionally, mentally, and logistically for this life changing event. From important topics like attachment and grief and loss, to day-to-day activities like eating and sleeping, families are given support and education that leads to success as an adoptive family.

Individual support

Through face to face visits in the home environment, families and WACAP social workers work together to develop strategies for meeting their child’s individual needs, creating a strong family environment where the child can thrive. For families who don’t live near the WACAP office, social workers are available over the phone and online to listen and offer support when needed.

Social support

Families gather at WACAP's annual Family Camp.

Families gather at WACAP’s annual Family Camp.

Whether an adopted person or adoptive parent, support is often felt best when provided by another who has walked the same road. Through family camps, events, social media connections and other forms of engagement, WACAP works to connect adoptive families. In addition, support groups led by WACAP professionals give families the opportunity to share experiences, offer one another advice, and create a support system when challenges arise.


Lifelong support

For anyone experiencing the adoption journey, feelings can grow, diminish, and change over time, and questions may arise. When an adopted person is interested in looking further into their past and the circumstances that led to their adoption, finding out more about their birth parents, or learning to navigate life as an adopted adult, they can always come to WACAP. When an adoptive parent is facing challenges, they’re welcome as well. Our post-adoption support team is dedicated to helping each and every person and family adjust, heal, and thrive.

Building and supporting strong families is an important part of the work we do here at WACAP. I’m looking forward to telling you more about our other funds soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to donate to WACAP’s Strong Families Fund, you can do so here.

headshot of WACAP Vice President of Fund Development Mary DuncanAbout WACAP’s Vice President of Fund Development, Mary Duncan:
Mary Duncan first volunteered with WACAP in 1993, working at an orphanage in Romania and soon after, joined WACAP’s staff as a case manager. Also an adoptive aunt and adoptive sister, Mary continued to serve children and families at WACAP as a supervisor in adoption programs and in family recruitment. Now as Vice President of Fund Development, she enjoys the opportunity to interact with donors and supporters and sharing about WACAP’s transformational work for children.

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