It Takes a Little Time

I’ve heard them time and again. Questions about adoption can often come across as riddles, often leading to even more questions. Most often, I find that my answer invariably begins with the phrase, “It depends.” This question, however, has a specific answer, and it is one that guides our work at WACAP.“If there are so many children who are waiting for adoption, then why is it so hard to adopt, and why does it take so long?”

Ages of children WACAP is advocating and seeking families for as of January 2017: teens (17%); age 10-12 (17%); age 5-9 (31%); age 3-4 (15%); age 0-2 (20%).

  1. Though there are indeed many, many children who need adoption, the children who wait aren’t infants. There are 13 million orphans worldwide who have lost both parents.1 In the U.S.A, there are just under 108,000 children in foster care waiting for adoption.2 In 2016, WACAP worked with almost 630 children from eight different countries, and 80% were age 3 or older. One third are age ten and older. While many families come to the adoption table with thoughts of younger children, the youth who wait don’t often fit that expectation. Closing the gap between expectation and reality can take some time.

  2. Not only are waiting children often older, they bring with them all of the trauma that has shaped their history. Abandonment, abuse, neglect, institutionalization, and multiple placements make for a rough start. It’s not a thought with which we are comfortable. But it is reality. But don’t be discouraged. Rather, be prepared. WACAP spends time educating our families on the impact of such trauma histories on a child’s development, and we have plans to incorporate more of trauma-informed care in our family education and support. We talk through parenting techniques and set up support systems for when children come home. Children from hard places will need a different type of parent. I will make a declaration here, and this may shock some readers: 100% of children placed for adoption have trauma histories. WACAP spends the time to help families prepare.

  3. Let’s talk special needs. I’m not a fan of that label, but it’s often more concise than a discussion of diverse medical diagnoses, treatments, and developmental delays. In 2016, 75% of children placed through WACAP had some identified special medical or developmental need. Add into that the unique aspects of older child adoption and developmental trauma, and the percentage jumps to 90%.
    Types of “Special Needs” identified among adoptions completed in calendar year 2016, and graphically displayed in a pie chart/by percentage as follows: vision/hearing (7%); developmental disorders (10%); birth defects (19%); congenital heart defects (12%); cerebral palsy (8%); Down syndrome (6%); cerebrospinal (7%); limb differences (7%); older age range/complex trauma (14%); none (10%).

    Types of “Special Needs” identified among adoptions completed in calendar year 2016

  4. Adoption doesn’t erase the years that have passed before a child comes home. Physical and emotional scars remain. Biological parents, foster families, and orphanage friends all exist. A child’s history, including habits, hobbies, traditions, smells, culture norms, language, climate, religion, race, gender and sexual identities, likes and dislikes, fears, resentments, anger, and unbelievable grief are all packed up in the suitcase that comes with you on that plane or car ride home. We spend the time to help you become ready to unpack it all and keep it safe.

  5. Children deserve our very best efforts. Initially, we want to reunite them with biological family members when possible. We hope for a child to remain safely and securely within their country of origin, state, or neighborhood. They’ve suffered enough losses by this point, haven’t they? We do our best to not do more harm when we are trying to redeem an untenable situation. WACAP firmly believes in and advocates for a priority in adoption: first, reunify. Second, seek relatives. Third, find a domestic option for permanency. And, finally, pursue intercountry adoption. A child should never “age out” of orphanage or foster care to no one. Neither should they be removed from biological family prematurely, or without merit. Children are worth the investment of time to make sure every adoption is legal, ethical and in the child’s best interest.

Yes, there are many children who need adoption right now. There is an immediacy, an urgency to their need that often implies a speedy process. After all, if the end result is the creation of a family, shouldn’t we should get to that place as quickly as possible? Well, yes, we should get there as quickly as is possible.

We must also remember that an adoptive placement is not the ending of the story. It is just the beginning. It is foundational, and both parent and child should come to that first meeting with eyes wide open, as thoroughly prepared as possible, because the goal is for the placement to not only be permanent, but to result in a healthy, strong family that will see the best in each other, love all the time, forgive when it isn’t easy, laugh and play together, and create a home that welcomes and celebrates differences. That is nothing short of a miracle, and it takes a little time.

What questions do you have, or would you like to see WACAP address, concerning foster care and adoption (both domestic and international)? Comment below or email to and we’ll blog answers throughout 2017.


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.


WACAP (World Association for Children and Parents) is one of the largest and most experienced international nonprofit adoption and child assistance agencies in the United States. Since 1976, we’ve placed over 10,000 children with loving adoptive parents and provided food, medical care and education to more than 200,000 children around the world.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Domestic Adoption, Facts and Figures, Foster Care, From the CEO, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It Takes a Little Time

  1. Chrystal Ann says:

    The comment, “infants don’t wait” paraphrased is a loaded piece of info. There’s so much history not discussed about adoptions’ dark side and only the good promoted. One day the truth will be known, the evil about it exposed for all to see.

    • WACAP says:

      At WACAP, we firmly believe in celebrating each member of the adoption triad. Every adopted person, birth parent, and adoptive parent has a unique experience, and every perspective is valuable. – WACAP

  2. MOIRA YOUNG says:

    I really agree with your article. I had babies as foster family until they were adopted. And we are lucky to still see one of them after ten years. He has a loving family. In other cases the law decided children should go back to the place were they come from (nothing was really done to change the situation that put children in danger….) not social asistants followed those cases. I wascreally ver sad. Foundations that work for children rights and have orphanages or foster homes in Argentina had limited access or resourses to change judges decitions, but they do their best and have lawers who work ad donorem to help in some cases.
    At the moment I’m working in an office 9-6pm as secretary, my 3 children are 20; 18 working and at university and 13 Kev, he is at secondary school living with his dad because he has chosen a school specialized in music wich is closer to his house. My eldest daughter has moved closer to University. I’ m separated. . My children loved when we used to go to the orphanage to look after the children and have them at home.
    Are this programs are only for US residents?
    If there is any chance you want to meet me I would love to work for your organization, Ihave no problem in working abroad in order to do what I love. Or if I can’t adopt any child with special needs because of my nationality or low income, can I offer to foster?
    Moira Young

Leave a Reply to Chrystal Ann Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s