Last year, when WACAP leadership re-evaluated our mission statement, we decided to take a stand, and declared our intention to offer lifelong support after adoption. Questions were asked, “Do we really mean it?”
As we’ve mentioned previously, the vast majority of children adopted through WACAP’s work bring with them individual needs. They have lived life and are older, some have siblings, many have medical diagnoses, and others have developmental delays. All bring to their new adoptive families, unfortunately, a significant trauma history. These families, and their adopted children and teenagers will need our support if they are to remain strong.
Adoption is to be celebrated, but these children aren’t lucky. They’ve experienced profound trauma and loss. Neither are adoptive parents saviors. We just love our children and want the best for them. We make mistakes and we keep loving, anyway.
Our desire at WACAP is to stand with families striving to love each other each day, and serve as a lifeline for families and adopted persons who experience our shared struggles. We want to connect those who walk along the same path. Our hope is to provide resources, and a listening ear.
To do that, we gather families online, via facebook to offer support from a social worker, and from each other. We offer regular support groups in Western Washington. We listen to families and adoptees over the phone (at 1-800-732-1887) as they tell their stories and seek assistance. We offer training and connect families to local professional practitioners who are adoption competent. We help adult adopted persons search for birth family information. And, in those rare instances when it is no longer healthy or safe for a child to remain with their original adoptive families, we walk families through the dissolution process and search for a subsequent family to adopt their child, equipped to meet very specific needs. The commitment of these original adoptive families remains steadfast, as they work with a licensed agency to find the best possible second family for their child. As each family member grieves, WACAP remains connected with them.
Launching a conversation about the dissolution of adoptions is a challenging one. But we must honestly acknowledge that an adoptive family’s commitment to a child may require helping their child transition out of their home. It’s heartbreaking, and it is rare. Though data on dissolution rates is often difficult to obtain, some U.S. studies allude to dissolution rates as high as 5%.† At WACAP, the rate of reported dissolutions for the past 15 years is 1.6%.‡ We attribute our success to our unwavering commitment to educating our prospective adoptive families and providing them with all available information about the children they are adopting. We believe that by vetting, preparing, and fully informing our families, we minimize some of the risks inherent to adoption that lead to dissolution.
There are times, however, when it is in everyone’s best interest to seek a second adoptive family. WACAP remains committed to helping find, evaluate and prepare those subsequent families to welcome these children and youth into their homes. The alternative leaves families to navigate dissolutions alone. Called rehoming, this practice places children at risk of abuse or neglect by well intended but ill-prepared families or, worse, by predators who seek access to children through this avenue.
No one should struggle in silence. Help is available. Needing help is normal, and seeking support is laudable. Without judgment, WACAP staff is ready to respond when families and adoptees need us. Our donors make it possible for us to offers such supports with minimal, if any, cost to those who are often in crisis. We thank those supporters, and with outstretched hands, stand ready to respond when needed.
‡ 68 of 4,145 adoptions between October 1, 2001 and October 1, 2016
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.