A Virtual Art Walk With Kids Who’ve Inspired Us  

On January 31, many people celebrate “National Inspire Your Heart with Art Day” … and we’re inspired. Join us for an art walk with a few kids we’ve met through “A Family for Me.”

Common to each of their stories is time spent in foster care, resilience in the face of change, and creativity that inspires us all.

Like many of us, they’ve found art to be an important outlet in their lives, using it to express who they are or to learn more about the world.

It’s been our privilege to be advocates for these children and to help them share their stories, their passions, and their many talents.


Cake decorating – edible art!


Decorating shoes with 10-year-old KeJuan. Stay tuned at www.wacap.org for KeJuan’s “A Family for Me” video.


Sketching out a design for a woodworking project.


A great day for making metal jewelry.


A talented painter shows her gift.


At the pottery wheel.


Learning theatrical make-up.

To date, over 60 percent of the children featured on “A Family for Me” have found adoptive homes. If you have questions about adopting a child in foster care, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org. 

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoption Washington, Art, Celebrations, Creative Endeavors, Foster Care, Videos, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adoption FAQ: On Pre-Adoption Preparation and ‘Really’ Being Prepared

Child-Looking-Outside-At-Window-PexelsQ&A With WACAP’s China Team 

Recently, WACAP’s China adoption team was asked how pre-adoption training and preparation correlated to parents’ feeling satisfied and equipped after their adoption.

For everyone on WACAP‘s staff, this question strikes a chord. That’s because – even when families spend months preparing and researching, meeting with their social worker, and completing the training hours required for an adoption – it’s always hard to prepare for something that changes everything.

Below, WACAP’s China adoption staff share about preparing for the kind of change adoption brings, while banking on the understanding and experience that will grow with a family.    

Preparing for What You Can Beforehand: Managed Expectations

After talking with families, here’s what China’s adoption staff observe about the connection between pre-adoption preparation and parents’ feelings of satisfaction after they adopt.

A lot of post-adoptive parental satisfaction has to do with managed expectations, so knowing what to expect is a huge piece of the puzzle.

As they move through the adoption process, WACAP families ­complete a series of required adoption-related trainings and reading. Those most open to learning and applying the information, and those who prepare themselves for all eventualities, tend to feel the most satisfied and equipped after the adoption.

Emotions and Reactions: Harder to Plan For

However, it’s also hard to truly be ‘prepared’ for what adoption is like until you have experienced it yourself. Many adoptive families who’ve completed the training and readings have commented that they ‘thought they’d understood what the adoption would be like … but found it was hard to prepare for their own emotions and their own reactions when the adoption actually took place.’

Speaking From Experience: What No Class Can Do

A WACAP case manager and adoptive mom agrees, sharing an experience from her life.

My own personal experience can speak to why it’s hard to fully anticipate and prepare for our own emotions (even with the planning we’ve done and knowledge we may have).

I had been working at WACAP for several years when we adopted our first son. I’d listened to the trainings many times over. I’d walked hundreds of families through the adoption process.

But there was nothing that could have prepared me for how I’d feel when my then-3-year-old son started winging blocks at my head as hard as he could and laughing when he managed to hit me in the face. Nothing could have told me how I’d feel when he spat in my face and then laughed when we were at the Consulate appointment.

At the time, his behavior worried me, even though I knew things would change with time and I’d seen many other families go through this exact experience.

Now that I know my son better, I know that he deals with his anxiety and fear by laughing hysterically and being very over-active. But all the classes in the world could not have prepared me for how I was going to feel when living in the thick of it in China.

Thanks to China’s adoption staff and to our families for sharing their thoughts and responses for this question. We also welcome your questions at wacap@wacap.org.



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“What to Expect, Adoption Style”: One Couple’s Adoption Story

Erin and Joel adopted their son, Carsen, in 2015. Today, he’s a spirited four-year old, and Carsen’s parents can’t imagine their lives without him. Here, their memories take them back through the days just before their adoption and their first night in Nanchang, China – “a night that did not feel so expectant with hope,” they recall – to today … which feels like an unexpected gift.

“What to Expect, Adoption Style”

Adopting From China: One Couple’s Story


Tonight is a night like any other. Routine. Normal. I hold Carsen close, freshly bathed and dressed in racecar pajamas. His sisters are tucked into their beds waiting on goodnight kisses, but this ritual belongs only to the two of us. With one arm draped across my shoulder, and the other gripping the curtain of his bedroom window, he takes in the familiar scene: “Goodnight, Daddy’s (Da-you’s) car, goodnight street light, goodnight neighbor’s house, goodnight moon,” he calls in his sweet voice.

My chest tightens as I stare at the moon, full, luminous, and round with expectation. How I have come to treasure such moments with our beloved son. And as I hold him close, moonlight spilling into his darkened room, I am brought back without warning to a night over two years ago and half a world away. A night that did not feel so expectant with hope. Our first night in Nanchang, China, when I, disoriented by jet lag, plagued by fear, and distraught by the new trauma we just imposed on Carsen, crumpled to a heap on the bathroom floor of the hotel and voiced the thought that had been screaming in my head for the past ten hours.

“What if nothing turns out as I expected it?”

With-Parents-at-Table-PaperworkTruth be told, my husband and I traveled to China with our own set of “What to Expect When You Are Expecting” style expectations. However, in the realm of Special Needs, International Adoption, expectations must be unpacked very carefully and handled with extreme caution. In reality, no amount of knowledge acquired through training (which WACAP does exceptionally well!), medical consultations, or blog reading could have prepared us for how we would react once adoption moved from the hypothetical to the real.

Carsen was placed in our arms, and we were flooded with emotions spanning from fear to wonderment and everywhere in between. We felt moments of delight in this tiny person who began showing us glimpses of personality and spirit, while conversely feeling terror over unknown medical diagnoses and prognoses, along with guilt over taking him from the only home he had known. We desperately missed our biological children we’d left behind at home, and we wondered anew how they would react to and connect with this tiny stranger who was now their brother. We were overwhelmed, and in this midst of this raw experience, we questioned if we were even doing the right thing. So we held onto each other, to our son, and we reached for a lifeline. We called WACAP and received kind, informed, and thoughtful encouragement. We conferenced with two wonderful doctors who gave us new insight and action, and we drank in the experiences of other adoptive families we met during our time in China.

In order to move forward, it was time to let go of the expectations that threatened to derail our adoption before it even began.

We expected a son who was deaf and who had CHD.

Toddler-With-Mom-Outside-Brick-BackdropWe compiled pages and pages of handwritten notes, translated and examined progress reports, and logged hours with a local pediatrician who is also an international adoption specialist. Upon meeting Carsen, we were astonished to find that he could, in fact hear. This was impossibly remarkable news. However, we also realized that his craniofacial differences could lead us down a very different diagnostic path than the one we had been anticipating. From the hotel bathroom between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., the only place and time we could find a stable Internet connection, we exchanged countless emails with international adoption specialists in Washington. This point of contact was a lifeline for us while in country. Through this connection, we laid to rest our previous expectations of Carsen’s special needs and exchanged them for equal parts reality and hope.

We found renewed excitement to embark on a fact-finding mission to discover who our son truly was and is. Once home, I prepared an empty two-inch binder with a tab for each of the six specialists he would see initially. This binder, absent of information, spoke volumes to my fear of the unknown. Now, this same binder is a remarkable symbol of just how much he had progressed and accomplished. In fact, he has graduated from the care of four of his six specialists in just over two years and could be described in no other way than thriving, healthy, and happy. The focus has shifted from piecing together the puzzle of Carsen’s medical and special needs to pure enjoyment in the unique and wonderful person he is.

We expected his grief, and we expected to comfort him through it.

We did not expect that we would feel grief so viscerally with him. As we entered the hotel lobby, our terrified and traumatized son was literally thrust into our hands as his nanny and orphanage director ran out the door, late to their next appointment. There was no opportunity for privacy, no opportunity for conversation, no opportunity for transition. The scene unveiling so publically for all hotel guests to see was more kidnapping than homecoming. Knowing we were the cause of Carsen’s grief made us feel like his enemies, not his parents. While we had been prepared for this possibility in training, we were devastated to a degree we could never have anticipated. Once settled into our hotel room, our exhausted son let my husband rock him to sleep. We sobbed together as we held him, broken by the heartbreak that makes adoption necessary, broken by the depth of loss our sweet son had experienced, and left wondering if and how these broken pieces would all fit together. As much as adoption comes from broken places, two years in, we also know it is the work of mending hearts. Watching our son embrace life in all its challenges and rewards gives us renewed faith in the miraculous resiliency that is the human spirit. He has not had an easy road, but he approaches life with joy and love, and that inspires us to do the same.

We expected to love him at once.

Family-Photo-Parents-Four-Kids-Outside-Brick-BackdropAnd we did, truly, love him at first sight, but what’s more lasting and permanent than the emotion of love is a true bond. Bonding is a process that requires time, careful cultivation, and so much patience. My wonderful mother advised me, “Your girls grew within you for nine months before you met. Give Carsen and yourself that same time.” This proved excellent advice. Two and a half years after a love at first sight reaction to a tiny profile picture, Carsen is entwined so fully into our hearts and our family that it would be impossible to imagine our lives without him. It has taken an immense amount of patience and effort. Now, when he holds my face still so that he can look into my eyes and says, “Mommy I love you,” I am blown away by his choice to love, accept, and trust. It is a choice our whole family has made. As to our fear of how Carsen’s three sisters would react? As with any sibling relationship, there are moments of competition and miscommunication, but they are truly his bodyguards in tutus, fiercely protective and fiercely loving. Together, we comprise a faulty, but incredibly loyal unit.

If I could encounter that earlier, fearful version of myself, who wondered if things would be as she had expected, I might wrap my arms around her and tell her, “Absolutely not, Honey, because this child, this experience, will blow your expectations out of the water. It will be harder than you imagined. And it will be costly and painful in many ways. But the surprising joy in the journey will make it all worth it. He is worth it.” But telling her would spoil the surprise, and the greatest gifts in life are always unexpected.

Truth be told, I am grateful to this earlier version of myself because this same set of expectations that left her so rattled in the early days of Carsen’s adoption is also what gave her the energy and idealism to press forward through the lengthy adoption process and towards her incredible son. And while the specialist appointments, IEP meetings, and developmental assessments can be daunting and time consuming at times, she will find herself inspired by her son’s fighting spirit, his grit, and his ability to bring people together.

Our thanks to Erin, Carsen’s mom, for writing this story, and for inviting us all to share in their family’s journey.

If you have questions about adopting from China, please contact us at wacap@wacap.org. We’d be glad to answer your questions.

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“Race for Home”: WACAP Family-Friendly 5K Fun Run This May

“Race for Home” – May 6, 2018

Family-Friendly 5K Fun Run in Seattle’s Seward Park

Race for Home Logo - race participants in motion, seattle skyline with event details: May 6, 2018 at Seward Park.

You’re invited to join us this spring for a family-friendly 5K fun run. All abilities are welcome to run, walk, stroll or roll along with us, and celebrate at the finish line with music, food, fun, child-friendly activities and prizes.

WACAP brings over 40 years of family-building and expertise; you bring your team and enthusiasm for our mission.

Proceeds from “Race for Home,” through corporate sponsorship, individual and team fundraising and entry fees, support the work of WACAP to find permanent homes for children waiting in U.S. Foster Care and internationally.

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Is There a Child Waiting for You?: WACAP’s Partner Countries at a Glance


Is Adoption Right for You?

Do you have questions about the children waiting for families or about the adoption process?

Right now, the need for adoptive parents is great, and currently, many WACAP partner countries are matching children with their families more quickly than we’ve seen in the past!

Here’s what we’re seeing today, plus some highlights about the countries we work with.



  • Short wait times (currently we have just one family on our wait list!)
  • Babies 18 months old and younger at time of arrival home
  • All children cared for by experienced foster families rather than institutions


  • Comparatively short wait time for eligible couples
  • Young children matched between 12 – 36 months old
  • Eligibility guidelines flexible for families open to adopting waiting children


  • Toddler-Smiling-Next-To-Stuffed-Animal-Orange-Print-Pillow-WACAPOver 1,300 children waiting for families
  • Sibling groups of all ages
  • Families open to children with medical concerns matched with young children very quickly



  • Families urgently needed for boys
  • Over 3,000 children, 8 months old to 13 years old, are waiting
  • Quick and predictable process

U.S. Foster to Adopt


  • Washington families needed for children of all ages
  • Quick-moving process for families open to older children
  • For younger children, opportunities for foster care with hopes of adoption
  • Affordable option for families



  • Many older children and older sibling groups need chance to thrive in a new family
  • Flexible requirements for adoptive parents
  • Grants of $1,500 – $3,600 available for many waiting children



  • Children as young as 9 months up to 15 years
  • Skype meetings with your child
  • Shorter time required in country
  • Most children cared for in foster families rather than institutions



  • Young children who are considered healthy in need of adoptive families
  • Proximity to U.S. makes for easier travel
  • For single women hoping to adopt, no age restrictions on children

Want to Learn More?

Contact our Adoption Information Team

Meet Children Waiting for Families


Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoption Washington, Call to Action, Foster Care, Images of Family, Staff/Board Spotlight, Travel, WACAP, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

News Anchor Inspired to Share Her Personal Adoption Story

Just before the holidays, News Anchor Michelle Li — moved by the “A Family for Me” partnership between WACAP and KING 5 — was inspired to tell her personal adoption story.

In this video, she talks about what being adopted, and what finding her birth family has meant for her, sharing the feelings and connections that bring these worlds together.

Michelle Li on KING 5 news set sharing her adoption story

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WACAP Now: December Spotlights

WACAP Now Header -

Karin on stage speaking at 2017 Children's Hope Auction; photo text:

WACAP Now - Update on Haiti Adoptions




Posted in Adoption, Adoption Washington, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Advice, Advocacy, International Adoption, Quote, Staff/Board Spotlight, Support Services, WACAP, WACAP Communications, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Our Family: A Message from WACAP

WACAP logo with vision (

Happy Holiday and New Year’s wishes, from our family here at WACAP … to yours.

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“Bear With You”: Learning About Trust-Based, Relational Parenting

On his personal blog about adoption, fatherhood, and parenting, WACAP CEO Greg Eubanks reflects on mistakes made and lessons learned. Sharing one of his recent posts below, Greg talks about the difference that a trust-based, relational approach could have made … and what’s “better than being right.”

“Bear With You”

When I was a young parent, I thought I knew it all.

I was armed with the best information on parenting, and it was great stuff. I was going to parent with love and reason. To my brain, it all made sense. It was logical! There were explanations for things, and behaviors lead to consequences both good and bad. If there was a problem, I could identify it and propose a solution.


The problem here was that my solutions never seemed to work. So, I felt like a failure. My children grew increasingly frustrated, and I’m sure they felt isolated and often labeled as troublemakers. We just couldn’t figure out a good way to climb out of our arguments, and that led to resentment. And that’s never good for relationships.

New Information

Here’s what I now know: Children from hard places have all experienced complex developmental trauma. And this changes their brain chemistry. Physiologically, biologically¸ they perceive threats at every turn. Their brain is hypervigilant, stuck in fight, flight or freeze. Can you imagine? Can you even begin to put yourself in that place where every day feels like your life is at risk?

This is no manipulative behavior. It’s survival. And, I’ll say again, it’s biological. When you are in survival mode, you can’t think rationally. So, surprise, consequences don’t work. At all. They actually end up verifying assumptions believed by our children: they are bad, they don’t have a voice, they are at risk, and adults can’t be trusted.

I regret that I didn’t know this before. I hate that I didn’t spend near enough time connecting with my children, because I was so focused on correcting them.

So, in the adoption world, we are now all about trauma-informed care. The sad truth is that relationship-based trauma is something experienced by every child of adoption, and it changes the brain. The hopeful news is that our brains can heal and develop new connections.

At WACAP, the agency where I work, we are training together to implement a new model with our families. It’s called Trust-Based Relational Interventions (TBRI®). Empower the body and environment for learning, Connect with your child, and give them a voice, a language for correcting problematic behaviors. Balance structure with nurture.

I’m trying to connect now.

It’s a complex thing, the impact that my personality had on the relationships I’ve developed with my children. And I’ve learned over the past several years that it is vital for us parents to understand our own attachments, our approach to life that we bring to the relationships we build with our children.

Me, I wanted to fix everything. Because I need to be good. I need to be right. I need to bring something of value to the table if I’m going to be worth anything. So, when I couldn’t fix the problems in my family, I was lost.

So now, I have a mantra: “It is better to be kind than right.” I work hard to just be with the people in my life and not try so hard to fix their problems, which – I’m sure – feels like I’m trying to fix them. As if they’re broken. They are not.

You know, when someone you love is hurting, it really sucks to stand by and watch it happen. But to say to them, “I’m here,” and just bear it along with them? That’s powerful. I’m here. I’m on your side. I’m sorry this is happening. I’m with you.

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. He blogs about his experience as a parent, and about lessons learned at https://millionmistakes.com.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, Advice, Foster Care, From the CEO, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eight Things To Do While You’re Waiting

Navigating the Holidays

winter-time-heart-formed-with-snowWaiting is hard, and the holidays can be especially difficult while you’re waiting for your child to come home.

In this post, WACAP families, parents and staff share their advice on how to manage the wait during the holidays.

We truly understand why the holidays can be a difficult time, and why a season that should be a joyful one, can sometimes feel full of despair, sadness, and frustration. In the midst of all the holiday activities, celebrating with family and friends, decorations and social gatherings … you’re quietly longing for your child to be home.

We hope these suggestions provide some comfort while you’re waiting.

1. Read, read, read.

Prepare by reading books (or taking webinars) on parenting and adoption.

List of Staff-Suggested Books:

Please explore these authors’ other books, as well.

2. Invest in your personal support network.

Spend time with your friends, your extended family, your significant other, etc. Invest in your friendships, especially since it will be harder to find that time once your child comes home. You’ll need strong friendships to get through the challenges.

If you are adopting with a spouse or partner, you’ll need a strong connection with each other as well, so the time you spend together, plus the foundations of friendships and community you build while you wait, will certainly help.

3. Watch movies about adoption, ask questions, and discuss.

Watch adoption and foster care related movies while you’re waiting. These movies can bring important questions to the surface, and help you start discussions with others in your family, your circle of friends, or with your case manager/social worker.

Consider having friends or family over to watch and talk about a movie together, and see below for some movies about adoption and foster care that WACAP staff recommend for watching and discussion:

Recommended Adoption and Foster Care Related Movies: To Watch and Discuss

4. Learn about your child’s background.

Learn about your child’s birth country/place of birth, the area’s history, cultural information, traditions important to your child, important events, etc.

If you’re adopting internationally, start researching the country’s customs and holidays during your wait and plan how to incorporate some of them into your family’s traditions and activities; this a great way to become more familiar with, and to honor your child’s culture.

One of our staff members recently adopted from India. During her wait, she and her husband practiced Indian cooking, went to Diwali celebrations, read about India’s history and watched Indian movies. They enjoyed having friends over for Bollywood nights, where they’d watch a movie and serve snacks from a local Indian bakery or grocery.

5. Build a lifebook. Start a scrapbook.

Lifebooks help bridge a child’s past, present and future. They give you a way to document, share, and celebrate your child’s history and story with your child. They include, important events in your child’s life, cultural information, accomplishments, memories, records, feelings, and much more.

If you’re adopting internationally, start gathering information about your child’s birth country – even before you travel! This can include general country information, a map, interesting facts, etc. You can start a journal that includes your feelings as you wait.

As you work on your child’s lifebook, prepare your pages with placeholders for pictures and other items that can be added later. Once your child has joined your family, you can continue to work on the book’s pages with your child, including the time leading up your adoption and before, traveling, your child’s thoughts, milestones, memories, and more. This book will be a treasure to your child!

6. Plan a get-away, a “night out,” a family adventure.

While you’re waiting, make sure to plan activities and time away. Take a mini-vacation, connect socially with others, go on outings with friends, or a date with your partner. Remember, you’ll have fewer occasions for these types of fun things for some time after your child comes home.

Make special plans with your family, considering that things won’t quite be the same again after the addition of a new family member. You’ll have limited opportunity to give your family the same, dedicated attention once your family grows, making your time together before the dynamic changes very precious.

7. Plan for language barriers and how to navigate them.

If you and your child speak different languages, learn simple words and phrases in the language your child speaks or understands, to help you both communicate and help your child feel comforted.

Create communication cards to help your child convey how they are feeling or what they need. Communication cards usually have a picture illustrating a feeling, and these various cards can help support communication between you and your child. For example, a card might help a child convey, “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired,” and help you know how to help your child, and ultimately help with the transition.

8. Get connected.

Attend a local support group of adoptive parents while you wait. Support groups provide a good opportunity to connect with local adoptive families and learn about their experience, as well as to develop a larger support network.

Follow adoption-related blogs for new perspectives and inspiration. Here are two!

Looking Ahead

We hope these suggestions will help navigate the holidays while you wait for news about your adoption and anticipate the child you’ll be welcoming into your family.

Wishing you the very best this holiday season, and in the new year ahead.


About Debbie: Debbie joined WACAP in September 2015 as our adoption information specialist, and she continues to build strong relationships with families every day. She’s committed to helping families understand and navigate their choices as they consider adoption, and is passionate about building community partnerships to support families and connect them with the resources they need.

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