Today, on May 15, we highlight the story of parents Josh and Kelsey and what their adoption and their post-adoption follow-through has meant to so many: their children’s first caregivers, Thai government officials, and the many families waiting for their own children to come home. For those adoptive families that don’t understand the importance of the seeming red-tape of post-adoption reporting, we encourage them to comply with their child’s birth country requirements and help organizations like WACAP continue to do the hard work of finding families for waiting kids.
We want to introduce you to a family who helps tell the story of why post-adoption reporting to the country of a child’s origin is so vitally important.
In the fall of 2016, a team from WACAP traveled to Thailand to meet children who were waiting for families. Among the children they met while there were two brothers, ages six and two. The Thai government encouraged the WACAP team to find separate families for these brothers, as there was concern by officials that a single family would be hesitant to “take on” multiple kids of these ages, considering the children’s trauma history. The WACAP team members requested that the Thai government allow them to try to find one family for the brothers. Sharing stories of families who’ve committed to adopting siblings, staff assured the Thai officials they could find a family for both children. Hearing about how they had done so in the past, the Thai officials agreed.
It took 6 days for WACAP to identify a family for these boys.
Meet Josh and Kelsey. This couple welcomed Graham Kongkiat and Ike Nuttarit home in 2016.
The family shared their adoption journey and trip to Thailand in this emotional and heartwarming video.
Our reporter caught up with the family just last week to see how it was going and asked a few questions about how the post-adoption reporting experience has been for them.
WACAP: Josh and Kelsey, why was it important to you to write your post-adoption report?
Josh and Kelsey: It is important for us to write our post-adoption reports for many reasons. For one, our boys were so very loved and cared for in the orphanage of their birth country. It may not have been the type of love and care a Mommy, Daddy, and family could have given, but nevertheless, they cared for our children for 7 years and we owe it to them to have detailed reports and pictures. They deserve to know what bright futures the boys have ahead of them and how much they are thriving in the love and security of a family. Not doing post-adoption reports was never even a consideration for us. Secondly, sometimes it feels like we’re not doing anything right as parents, but then we look back at the old post-reports and can see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve thrived in our family.
WACAP: Did you realize the important role these reports play in intercountry adoptions?
Josh and Kelsey: We didn’t realize how important these post-adoptions reports were until we actually traveled to bring our boys home. Seeing the boys with their care-givers at the orphanage made it clear to us that they desperately wanted to keep a line of communication with us after we brought the boys to the US. They mentioned several times, “Don’t forget to send us pictures,” and “We can’t wait to hear how they are doing.” It made us realize that these post-adoption reports were not assigned as a threat to challenge our parenting abilities or a nuisance we just “have to get through.” These reports play an active role in the lives of the caregivers of our children. The country might know us on paper, but they only met us in-person for two weeks… and now have entrusted their children to us. If we were birth parents in the United States, and placed our children for inter-country adoption, we would plead for the same courtesy. We would want to know if our children are being cared for.
WACAP: What message do you have for adoptive families who might be too busy after their kids come home to do the post-adoption reporting?
Josh and Kelsey: Being “too busy” for post-adoption reporting almost sounds like an insult to the birth country. My husband and I both have full-time teaching careers, coach multiple sports, are involved in Youth ministry, as well as maintaining a dedication to our extended families. We take the boys to multiple medical check-ups, therapy sessions, and put them through public school while allowing them to be involved in school sports and extra-curricular activities. We understand what “busy” means. We started the adoption process knowing that we made a commitment to fulfill our adoption obligations to the fullest- that includes post-adoption reporting. This country allowed us to adopt these children with the understanding that we would provide post-adoption reports. By not sending post-adoption reports, we would be sending a message to our children that their birth country is not worth our time; therefore, disrespecting their heritage.
WACAP: What is life like today with your two boys home and settled into your family?
Josh and Kelsey: Now that the boys are home and becoming settled, we face many daily challenges, but experience the greatest of joys. Our boys are so incredibly happy to be in a family with their Mommy and Daddy, and they tell us that often. Both boys really enjoy school, playing sports, and spending time with their grandparents and cousins. We love watching them hit milestone after milestone and praising their accomplishments. The boys have picked up on English quickly and are beginning to feel comfortable and secure enough to open up to us about their lives in their birth country. We celebrate their heritage often with meals, birth-country holidays and learning about the culture. The boys have a lot of trauma they are still dealing with and, thankfully, we have found ways to help them, professionally and parentally. We love our sons with all of our hearts and are so incredibly happy to call them ours. We live one day at a time- some days are great, others are trying, but we are confident adoption was the right choice for our family.
WACAP’s CEO Greg Eubanks agrees that a family makes all the difference, and that a report about the impact a family has can be transformational.
“These reports are vital for future adoptions, because this is the way we remain accountable to a child’s country of origin. Adoption can feel so much like a bureaucracy at times that we lose the human side. The officials and central authorities in each country care deeply about the children they are placing with our families. They trust each one of us to do right by their children, loving them well, helping them meet their potential, and maintaining their cultural heritage.
Plus, in cases like this one, reports help us prove our worth, and keep our word. I remember meeting these brothers and hearing their story. Hearing the fear in the voices of adoption workers that we couldn’t find a family for both of them, due to their age & history. When they asked us to find separate families and we balked at that idea, it took some negotiating. Reports from the Josh and Kelsey and their social worker about how they are doing underscore that we know how to do this, and families like them aren’t the exception. They are the rule.”
WACAP program staff report that Thai officials were so encouraged by the post-adoption reports from the Davis family, and seeing how the boys have thrived in their new home that they are considering a subsequent request for a single placement of another set of siblings who are waiting for a family. And that’s great news… for the organizations that care for children, the people who work to find the right families for them, and ultimately, the waiting children around the world.
The Office of Children’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State has declared May 15th Post-Adoption Report Day. The goal is to highlight the importance of submitting post-adoption reports for families who made those commitments as part of the international adoption process.. The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) says post-adoption reports are one of the ways countries assess whether children are healthy, safe, and loved as a result of intercountry adoption. This information can be critical to deciding whether future children will have the option to join families through intercountry adoption or might otherwise languish in institutions or other impermanent situations.
Recent article by Zoila Lopez: Post Adoption Reporting: Why It Matters