Remembering the Pictures We Paint Across Seasons
By M. Harrel, WACAP Communications Editor
Interview with Zoila Lopez, WACAP Clinical Director
“I got a little emotional sitting there, seeing the kids showing off their talent, being goofy, simply being themselves,” says Zoila Lopez.
She’s telling me about a family talent show she attended at Sun Lakes Park last month in Central Washington, one of the stand-out experiences at her first WACAP Family Camp.
A glance out the window from Zoila’s office back in Seattle reminds us both that fall has come quick and change is in the busy September breeze. We stop anyway to reminisce about the summer, a chat that’s overdue. Zoila’s description of Family Camp transports me.
I’ve never been to Sun Lakes, but as Zoila talks about her week away, it’s suddenly August in the Sun Lakes campground, and I’m there:
A bright, eager sun dances over the lakes sunup to sundown. Children pass the day with friends and laughter, imbued by a sense of surety and freedom in a place they’ve come to know well. Families find time to connect, confident of their children’s safety. New friendships grow or grow stronger. Children adopted from many different countries are able to connect with fellow adoptees, surrounded by a community that belongs to them.
Listening, I can feel the magic that keeps generations of families returning to Family Camp year after year. It’s heartening to hear, and it’s nice to chat with Zoila, clinical director at WACAP. She’s someone who helps both colleagues and the families she works with “push pause” between seasons.
Talking with her about summer, you’ll come away remembering more vividly the pictures you’ve painted—joys, tears, family adventures—and you’ll realize they’re part of the canvas you’re carrying with you into fall.
What she’s brought into fall from Family Camp is her memory of the camp’s warmth, literally and figuratively. “Sun Lakes in August was hot! 112 degrees, hot!” she says brightly. “I’m glad there was air conditioning in the cabins,” she continues, her laughter melting into a song about the indelible mark made by her week with WACAP families. “The intensity of the heat was parallel to the strength of the connections.”
For Zoila, the talent show sticks sharply in her mind. This child-focused and family-centered event where children were delighted to be themselves “showed the impact families had on these kids’ lives,” she says. In groups or on their own, children performed, acted, giggled, and smiled to an applause of friends and family … and love.
Again, I can see it:
Each talent show moment, extraordinary. Every child, loved. Each with a family that has their backs through the best moments … and the hardest. Zoila adds, “The magnitude and value of the work that we do as a group of people here at WACAP, as advocates for children, was highlighted in the faces of all these children and their parents.”
From Family Camp, Zoila brings back a picture of “agents of change”:
- “Parents, so powerfully and significantly impacted by adoption, who are caring for and teaching their children.”
- “Children, who can see themselves represented in the friends and families that look like theirs, and who are sharing valuable lessons with their parents—what it means to have grit, perseverance, and strength of the human spirit.”
- “Families, who recognize the common experiences adoptive parents have, and support each other.”
- “A community of volunteers and advocates who help create lifelong bonds.”
WACAP is committed to providing lifelong support to families before and after adoption. Learn more about WACAP’s support services.
About WACAP Communications Editor Missy Harrel: Missy joined WACAP’s communication team in 2011. She spent the first part of her career in nonprofit program management focused on child welfare and early learning, as well as teaching in higher education. Growing up with family and friends who were adopted, she has an ongoing interest in sharing about family and the stories they create together. She blends her communications background with a love of learning and technology. She enjoys reading a good poem, sipping a nice cup of coffee, or a seeing a child jump carefree into a mud puddle, overcome with the sense of opportunity that every child deserves.
About WACAP Clinical Director Zoila Lopez: Zoila joined WACAP in 2016 as the organization’s clinical director. She is an adoptive mom, a former foster parent, and has an extensive work background as a therapist and adoption coach, working to support all members of the adoption triad. Within her community, she helps organize and plan trainings and events that support families built through foster care and adoption. An advocate for adoptees, children in foster care, and families, she is committed to connecting children and families with supportive communities and resources that help them thrive.