Federal Adoption Policy Changes, A Call to Courage

In light of Department of State changes to the adoption process, WACAP case manager and adoptive parent Lindsey Gilbert reminds us why children need our courage.

“Why You Should Still Adopt from China”

From the Lens of a WACAP Parent and Case Manager

Recently, the Department of State clarified their policy in a notice to Adoption Service Providers (ASPs), and made it clear that regardless of a foreign country’s practices, that U.S. ASPs are prohibited from making “soft referrals,” which includes matching a child to a family who has not yet completed a homestudy.

This applies to all countries, but was particularly a shock to the China adoption community, where for the past several years families have been able to come forward for a specific waiting child and be matched prior to completing their homestudy.

Since this announcement, many families have said they would not have started the adoption process if they hadn’t been matched with that specific child first. Many in the China adoption community are speculating on how this will cause adoption numbers to drop even further.

This breaks my heart.

Other countries we work in have already had similar policies in place, such as India and Taiwan, and we’ve seen that in those countries, the children most negatively impacted by the policy are the children who are the hardest to find families for: children who are older, large sibling groups, and children with complex medical or developmental needs.

When my husband and I began the adoption process, we came forward for a little boy in need of an adoptive family, but ultimately the adoption fell through. We were heartbroken, but we grieved our loss, picked ourselves up, and moved forward.

We were registered on the Indian government’s adoption website, and immediately matched with our daughter in May 2017. She had been waiting for a family since December 2015.

Perspective shot of mom and daughter holding hands, daughter looking up.

I can’t imagine if we had said, “No, that little boy was the only child for our family; since we can’t adopt him we won’t adopt at all.” We wouldn’t have our hilarious, smart, beautiful, brave daughter, and that thought takes my breath away. Every heartbreak we experienced was worth it to get the privilege of being her mama.


China’s shared list of waiting children that all agencies can access is larger than it’s ever been: 3328 children as of writing this article. The need for adoptive families is greater than ever, and the process is requiring more of families than ever before.

It requires you to be brave, to put your heart on the line, and trust that when you get to the point of being matched, the child who needs you will be there waiting.

Our kids are the bravest people I know—can you be brave for them?


More Information

If you have questions about the Department of State’s changes, or would like to learn more about adoption, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org.

LindseyGilbertAbout 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 WACAP’s international programs. She and her husband Geoff adopted their four-year-old daughter Vennela from India through WACAP in December 2017. Outside of work, Lindsey can be found practicing her Indian cooking, in the garden, or on a hiking trail with Geoff, Vennela and their two dogs.


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, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, International Adoption, WACAP, Waiting Children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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