Meet Hannah, one of WACAP’s wonderful volunteers, as she shares about her family’s journey. Closing with the story of her father who, years ago, trekked 14 miles in Nepal to obtain the photocopies needed for her siblings’ adoption, she has no doubt about what’s most important to her, and why family is worth every step. It’s what brought her to WACAP to volunteer, and keeps her coming back.
From the Same Family
Japan, 1995. People rushing on the runway in Tokyo; an American father and his 11-year-old son staggering with more luggage than they can carry; a young Nepalese girl of nine, covering her mouth with her hands in hopes of calming her nervous stomach; a middle-aged woman trying to pacify two jetlagged, screaming children latched on to her hips.
All were racing to catch the flight already on the runway, bound for Nepal. Different ages. A range of skin tones. All were from the same family — my family. I never thought anything of it. It seemed so normal to me.
My Dutch/British mother and my American father were missionaries in Nepal. I also have two adopted siblings from there. With such an international family, there was always reason to travel. My mom laughs now about how we would ask her, “What country are we going to today?” as though it were as simple as hopping in the car to go to the store.
When I was five we left Nepal — which at that time was not open to the diversity of religions practiced today — and we moved to India. I began my education there at an international boarding school. After graduating high school, I moved to the Netherlands to pursue a B.A. in International Studies, specializing in the Middle East. Following my studies there, I decided it was time to move to the U.S.
And What Brings Me to Today
Thinking about what kind of career I want, a former employee of WACAP shared her experiences working with the adoption agency. Having two adopted siblings, spending a lot of time in the orphanage that my mom set up, and having volunteered in an orphanage in India, I have always valued working with people — and kids in particular. Because of my past, I knew the organization and its mission, was something I would be very interested in. That’s why I started volunteering at WACAP.
Remembering Why We Climb Mountains
My brother and sister joined my family through a Nepalese private adoption. Even at that point, the adoption process was tedious, with all the required paperwork and processes. But my parents saw this process through from beginning to the end. (Although they would have heard rumors at that time of others using bribery to speed up a process, they chose to not be part of this dishonesty.)
For my father, adopting my siblings involved traveling to Gurkha to visit the Chief District Officer for paperwork. Once there, he’d have to obtain photocopies, which meant a 7-hour trek down the mountain, catching a bus with no room to sit, and a 4-hour ride to the nearest city. And so he did it.
Arriving on a Saturday (when things were typically closed), meant it would be even harder to find a place to make copies, but when he finally did, it was back to the standing bus for another 4 hours, and then the long return hike up to the village.
Because of the uncertainty of Nepali politics and processes, my parents knew the importance of turning in their paperwork as quickly as possible, to safeguard as best they could against any unforeseen changes that could affect the adoption process.
My dad always jokes that while my mom endured the labor of their two biological kids, that he, in different way, endured the labor, of their two adopted kids.
Where The Steps Lead — Why I Volunteer
My background, my family, my adopted brothers and sisters, and my friends at the orphanages where I spent time are all important to me.
This is why I volunteer at WACAP. I believe that the work done here is extremely important and something that I hold close to my heart. I am honored to be part of the WACAP team.
Thank you, Hannah, for being the advocate children need at each step in order to find a family — and as in the story you shared about your father, being willing to go the distance.