“How does WACAP promote positive outcomes for children placed in adoptive families?”
This question was proposed to WACAP by China’s Center for Child Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) earlier this fall. More specifically, they wanted to know how to evaluate children and prospective adoptive parents in order to ensure successful domestic placements within China, and they wanted WACAP to share what we have learned in our 40 years of work. WACAP’s Clinical Director, Zoila Lopez, reflects on this experience and the response she received as she traveled to China in November:
Of course, WACAP was honored by the CCCWA’s invitation and we quickly accepted. Then, I went to work with WACAP’s Director of Social Services, Elana Roschy, developing a curriculum that would effectively compress four decades of expertise into a digestible and relevant training. We identified several subject areas:
- How to thoroughly evaluate the needs of children
- How complex developmental trauma informs so much of a child’s experience
- How to properly assess and train prospective adoptive parents
- The important role adoptive parents play in their child’s self-image, healing, and overall success
I arrived in Shanghai at the end of November, almost one month from the date we received the invitation from China . I was nervous, but buzzing with the energy such an opportunity ignites.
Since finding out my aunt was adopted, I have lived and breathed adoption. Personally, as a foster and adoptive parent; as well as professionally through my studies, and my work with foster care children, birth families, and adoptive families across the country. I have always hoped to have an influence that could improve adoption processes in our country and around the world. Now here I was, in China, getting ready to provide training to a group of professionals that would directly impact the way China conducts domestic adoptions and provides services for the children in their care.
Domestic adoption is gaining traction in several cultures around the world, and WACAP is privileged to help encourage this development. Temporary care of children in foster families is an increasingly viable option in some countries, and brings about new challenges and learning opportunities. On the day of training I stood in front of a room full of engaged professionals at the National Center for Management Development at Wuxi, in China’s Jiangsu Province. They were all engaged and eager to learn. Any amount of nervousness I had subsided through my interactions with the CCCWA’s Deputy Director General of Social Work and her staff. My new Chinese friends were incredibly welcoming and kind, willing to share our collective knowledge in order to improve outcomes for children.
I received thoughtful questions that shared challenges and sought advice on how best to handle difficult cases involving Chinese foster parents and the children in their care. Their stories and questions helped me realize anew that the needs of children and parents are universal. While every case is different, there are common threads that unite the adoption community across countries, cultures and language barriers. The training was a success. Those in attendance, including CCCWA staff, were very generous and invited us to return and provide additional training in Beijing next year. I left motivated to continue this work with families in need of support, training, and/or consultation.
I am incredibly grateful for my role at WACAP! I get to do my life’s work; meeting and engaging adoptive families, adult adoptees, and adoption workers in our country and abroad. I get to live my dream of helping the adoption community become the network of people and support systems our children need us to be.
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 brings to her new role an extensive background of work as a therapist and adoption coach to support all members of the adoption triad.