Meeting Our Overseas Orphanage Partners:
Face-to-Face Conversations That Are Helping More Families Adopt
“Why do we travel all the way to Thailand for just a few short days to meet with our adoption partners,” we’re sometimes asked? It seems like a long way to go when technology makes it easy to communicate with others around the world.
However, our international trips like our trip to Thailand this past fall remind us that there’s really no replacement for sitting down face to face and talking. It is in those personal conversations that we discover the right questions to ask, and find how we can better work together and help more kids find their forever families.
Thailand Partner Orphanage Talks About Family Eligibility
Our partner orphanage in Thailand, the Thai Red Cross (TRC), has seen a dramatic reduction in parents applying to adopt the last couple years, to the point that the list of families waiting for the referral of a child was almost non-existent.
For many years, the TRC’s eligibility guidelines for adoptive families have been fairly narrow. Talking with the TRC staff this past year about the limited number of families who’ve applied and why, we asked if they’d be willing to be flexible on some of the guidelines—and we were delighted to hear that their answer was yes!
With the many children in TRC’s care who need families, the TRC staff recognized why being more open on some of their eligibility guidelines was important.
On a case by case basis, the Thai Red Cross will consider families …
- Who are above the TRC’s parental age guidelines.
- Who do not have documented infertility.
- Who have a medical condition.
- Who have more than one divorce.
The Thai Red Cross and the Children
Children referred through the Thai Red Cross are mainly toddlers 1 to 4 years old, generally in good health. The wait time for a referral is currently less than six months. We particularly need families open to boys and children over 2 years old!
Thailand’s Department of Children and Youth and Positive Directions
Thailand’s Department of Children and Youth (DCY), the Thai government body that oversees child welfare and adoption also expressed their willingness to provide some additional flexibility regarding family eligibility, and shared their efforts to minimize adoption processing time, which have been long in the past.
Here are some of the changes DCY has made to improve the adoption process for families and to help more children in their care find the permanent homes they need.
The DCY is making extra efforts to complete child studies for more children who need adoption. During our last trip they provided us with child studies for nine waiting children, and we expect more to come in the coming months!
The DCY will consider families with up to five children in the home for those adopting waiting children.
There are many children who are medically healthy but have a biological parent diagnosed with a mental illness. The DCY staff expressed the need for families to submit their dossier who are open to this type of history, saying those families can expect a quick referral!
The Department of Children and Youth and the Children
Children referred from the DCY are typically 2 years old and older from orphanages throughout Thailand. Eligible families can wait for the match of a child Thailand considers healthy, but the wait for a match can be long. Because DCY is responsible for children throughout Thailand, they also know of children with a range of medical or developmental needs (including needs many American’s consider manageable). For families open to such needs, the DCY program can be a good option since the wait to be matched with a child with needs is shorter than the wait for children under age 5 and considered healthy by the Thai government.
Adoption From Thailand: Learning More
We hope the increased flexibility of the Thai adoption authorities will make a difference in enabling more families to consider and commit to adopt a child from Thailand.
About WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions, Mary Moo: Mary has had the joy of bringing families and children together through international adoption since 1991. During these years she has coordinated adoptions in several countries including China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and Romania. Her career in adoption has been supported by immediate and extended family who are also members of the adoption triad.
About Thailand Program Manager Lindsey Gilbert: Lindsey became a member of WACAP’s China adoption team in 2011, after joining WACAP as a volunteer. She’s helped numerous families through their adoption process as a case manager, and she currently dedicates her time to both managing WACAP’s Thailand program as well as advocating for waiting children in China. Outside of work, Lindsey can be found in the garden, on a hiking trail, or volunteering to help others … with husband Geoff and dogs Quincy and Ross by her side.