In His Dancing Shoes: A Senior Prom Snapshot and Armando’s Story

This month, Armando — who loves music and especially hip hop — donned his dancing socks and shoes for his senior prom. All rhythm and smiles, he was thrilled. So was Armando’s family, who welcomed him home last year. Living in foster care at age 13, Armando needed a place to belong and family to belong to.

Click here to read this WACAP Success Story about Armando, the people who were part of his story, and the family who always encourages him to dance.

Armando's Senior Prom.jpg

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Armando's Prom.jpg

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School Essay Inspires: “Love Makes Family”

Teacher, Mr. Mead, with Alex, student winner of philanthropy essay competition

Teacher, Mr. Meade, (left) inspired by Alex’s essay about WACAP; WACAP selected for donation

It was just another Wednesday—or that’s at least what WACAP staff members thought as they got settled for the April staff meeting.

Soon, however, there was a room full of people blinking back tears, as a parent’s voice—their colleague’s voice—reached them with her daughter’s story. Alex’s story.

photo of Alex, who wrote about WACAP for school essay competition about philanthropy

“Love makes family,” says Alex.

Jo Reed, an adoptive mother of two children she’s unyieldingly proud of, beamed about her daughter.

Alex had won an essay competition about philanthropy for her English class, and she’d chosen to write about WACAP: the nonprofit adoption agency that helped bring her and her family together.

Alex not only did her homework about WACAP, but stood up at school to read this about what makes a family. Her mom, reading that same essay her daughter had read aloud in class, reminded us all that it was in fact, just another Wednesday with an incredible story about a family’s love, and an invitation to be part of that story.

Thank you to Alex for the invitation and for the reminder of what a difference we can make, any day of the week.

 

PDF Icon - Link to Alex's Essay

Alex-School-Essay-Love-Makes-A-Family-WACAP

As a result of hearing Alex’s essay, staff were inspired to match the donation  of Alex’s teacher and as a result, WACAP received over $400 to support its vital work bringing children and families together.

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Post-Adoption Success Story

parents and kids in favorite "Power Rangers' pose

The “Power Rangers’ is a favorite pose for this family

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.

Additional resources:

Recent article by Zoila Lopez: Post Adoption Reporting: Why It Matters

 

 

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GiveBIG for Children on May 10!

May 10, 2017, is GiveBIG!

We invite you to join us for this one-day online celebration of philanthropy, sponsored by the Seattle Foundation.

WACAP’s vision is “a family for every child.” We believe every child without a family deserves our advocacy and help finding permanency. Donate on May 10 and help make that happen.

WACAP Give Big Blog Graphic - link to https://www.givebigseattle.org/world-association-for-children-and-parents

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Limitless Potential

Each May, the United States recognizes National Foster Care Month. Last year’s Presidential Proclamation called for us to “recommit to helping more [fostered] children find permanency so they can feel stable, grounded, and free to fulfill their limitless potential.”

This month, we take time to discuss the sad reality that some parents can not adequately keep their children safe. We recognize that those children need temporary care in hopes of eventual reunification with biological families. And we claim that, in the event that reunification isn’t possible, children deserve an alternative and permanent solution via adoption.

Honestly, after that claim, we drop the ball.

It is decided, in many cases, that though adoption is deserved, it isn’t necessarily realistic, and other plans are created for “permanency.” Do you know what they are? There are two options frequently cited in statistical reports1: Long Term Foster Care or Independent Living. In other words, teens can remain in foster care until age 18, or age 21, or until they tire of the restrictions on normalcy. After that? They are on their own. I’ve taken to referring to these permanency options as planned homelessness.

Why don’t we do better?

Over 110,000 children in U.S. foster care are waiting for adoption. Some, like this 14-year-old in Louisiana, publicly plea for someone to adopt him.

Teen shares plea for family

These are our children, and there are thousands of them. I am tired of hearing that our best plan is for them to “age out” of foster care, pack their (trash) bags, and move out. I am tired of the myths that describe them as juvenile delinquents. I am tired of hearing that these children are difficult to place.

This belief is simply false.

While adopting from foster care isn’t for everyone, children in foster care don’t need everyone. They just need someone. I believe there are plenty of someone’s out there, ready and willing to adopt children considered by some to be “nontraditional.” I would prefer to reframe that notion: what could be more traditional than creating a family?

These waiting children and teens need two parent families and single parents, LGBTQ parents and straight parents. They need parents of all ethnicities. They need love beyond labels.

Perhaps they need you.

Adoption is challenging. Parenting is challenging. At WACAP, we can help you navigate the process and be ready to parent children who’ve known hard places, in a way that speaks their language and heals their histories of complex developmental trauma. Such ideas can be scary, yes. But imagine how scary it was to experience that trauma and live with its consequences. These children survived and are waiting for someone to see their limitless potential and say yes to their need.

Perhaps they are waiting for you.

You’ve got this. We’re here to help. Let’s work together and show them how valuable they are, how deserving they are. May 2017 be the last year many of these children celebrate National Foster Care Month while living within the foster care system.

1 https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport23.pdf


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.

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Foster Care Month Marks WACAP Milestone: 150 Kids’ Video-Stories Shared

May is National Foster Care Month. It’s a month where we join with others across the U.S. on behalf of tens of thousands of kids growing up in our communities and neighborhoods … without a permanent family.

And it’s a month where we celebrate the children’s stories we’ve been able to share, the kids who’ve found families and permanency, and the milestones reached along the way.

Recently, WACAP introduced the 150th child on “A Family for Me”— a video feature where children in foster care get to showcase who they are and talk about the family they envision.

Collage of Committed to helping these children find the love and permanency of family, we plan each video with this goal in mind.

The video helps us:

  • Introduce others to these amazing kids as we seek the family that’s right for each one; and
  • Provide each child with a special experience and great memory.

To date, almost 90 children who’ve participated in “A Family for Me” have found families.

WACAP would like to say thank you to all the businesses and organizations that have hosted us. We’re grateful to all the caseworkers, advocates, and foster parents who helped us coordinate scheduling. Thanks to our great videographers, and thanks to the KING 5 Morning News team for putting these segments together!

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WACAP Thankful to Have Been Named Seattle Charity of the Month

WACAP was honored to have been named Bonneville Seattle’s Charity of the Month for April, for being a champion for children, finding and preparing adoptive families, and offering lifelong support after adoption.

Listen to KIRO 7’s Feature about WACAP, and learn what WACAP knows about the power of family to change lives.

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Thank you to Bonneville Media’s KIRO RadioSeattle Seahawks and Carter Subaru for their support, and for joining us in our work for children and families.

For more information about WACAP and how to help, visit www.wacap.org.

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Band Led by WACAP Adoptee Pledges Proceeds of Heartfelt Single

Band Lindstrom and the Limit's album cover for single

WACAP adoptee from Colombia, Aaron Lindstrom, and his band “Lindstrom and the Limit” have released a passionate new single, “Up Up and Away,” and have announced they’re donating proceeds from the song to WACAP.

Aaron’s recent experience meeting his birth family inspired this special acoustic song, which was released mid-April.

Thank you to Aaron and to “Lindstrom and the Limit” for supporting WACAP’s work, and for inviting us to share in your musical journey about family, the path our lives take, and the people who make us who we are.

blue icon with music notes

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Adoption FAQ: “What about the Certificate of Citizenship?”

debbie-adoption-info-specialist

Debbie, WACAP’s Information Specialist

As WACAP’s post placement staff share with families, the Certificate of Citizenship (CoC) is one of the most important documents parents can obtain to fully support their internationally adopted children’s future. It’s proof that their child is a U.S. citizen, and as such, is entitled to all benefits of citizenship.

Along with families asking if they need a Certificate of Citizenship for their adopted child, there’s a related series of questions many parents have when they call about this subject. “We adopted internationally years ago, but didn’t get a Certificate of Citizenship for our child,” a parent may explain. “But what’s the process like, getting a CoC now? Should we be concerned about it?”

Because underlying many families’ questions about the CoC is concern or uncertainty about what to expect, I feel that it’s relevant and timely to share a conversation I had with an adoptive parent earlier this year.

I hope that by giving voice to one adoptive parent who applied for and received his child’s CoC, those of you who need to secure this important document for your child feel more familiar with the process, and confident about the steps you need to take.

Please read on for this family’s experience:


We adopted internationally several years ago. We’d been told when we entered the U.S./once our plane landed in the U.S., our child was a U.S. citizen — this was due to the visa she was issued. This was true; our daughter was a U.S. citizen upon arrival to the United States. We also completed every step that we were instructed to do. We’d promptly applied for her U.S. passport. We re-adopted her in our home state and received her state-issued birth certificate. And we always kept her U.S. passport current.  

We’d taken every step – except for the Certificate of Citizenship. We were told the CoC wasn’t necessary because she was a citizen and had her U.S. passport. 

Image of blue, cloudy sky with overlay of word "citizenship"
Years passed and we came to understand that it was truly necessary to apply for her Certificate of Citizenship. We knew that her U.S. passport was proof of citizenship; however we were recently informed (by some friends who adopted through WACAP) that the CoC was universally accepted as proof of citizenship.  

Our daughter turns 15 this year and we had begun wondering if her state-issued birth certificate and passport would satisfy the requirement for her to get her driving learner’s permit or soon after, apply for financial aid for college. After learning more about the importance of the CoC for reasons like these, we applied to and paid USCIS for our daughter’s CoC. Still, we didn’t know what the timelines and communication would look like, especially since our daughter’s adoption was years ago. 

When I needed to contact USCIS to ask some questions about the process, I spoke with a friendly and helpful representative at USCIS who answered all my questions. Yes, I spoke to a live person! She was extremely supportive, which helped me along, lessening the stress I might have carried otherwise as I started preparing the paperwork. (While going through this process, it reminded me of preparing our dossier many years ago, but in this case, our child had been home for years, and we were taking another step to safeguard her future.)  

During that initial call with USCIS, I was told that the processing time for the CoC was running at about 5 – 6 months. It took about a week for me to compile the application packet to submit – and I was pleased to see that the instructions were very straight forward.  

Once I submitted our packet, we were able to check the status throughout the process by logging onto the USCIS website. The months passed and we received a note from the U.S. postal service that there was a large envelope waiting that required signature: our daughter’s CoC, which we picked up the next day. After a quick review, we could see that the process for our family was in fact just under 6 months, which was right in line with the expectation that had been set. 

Today, it’s good to know that the CoC never expires and we will keep this document safe for our daughter and use it when necessary. We have added peace of mind knowing that our daughter will receive all the benefits of her U.S. citizenship. 


If you have questions about post placement and finalization, or about the certificate of citizenship for your child, please contact us at postplacement@wacap.org.

 

 

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What’s changed with India?

Children who Need Families in India

Raising awareness about the growing need for families interested in adopting a child from India may seem a little unusual. For the millions of Indian children growing up without parents—or whose childhoods passed in an orphanage—the need has always been great.

WACAP has worked to find families for these children for nearly 40 years, and over this time, has helped unite over 1,200 families and Indian children.

Needed Change

So what is happening in India now to warrant new attention and urgency?

Over the past several years the Indian government has started making progress to address two issues that have plagued the country’s adoption process for decades: undocumented domestic adoption and opportunity for children in institutional care to have a chance to be adopted.

Considering that India is the second most populated country with over a billion people in 2013, it’s striking that only 340 children were welcomed into permanent, loving families outside of India. All of these children, because no domestic families asked to adopt them, were adopted internationally.

Each of these 340 children coming home to a family is a reason to celebrate. Still, for each child welcomed home, tens of thousands remained in institutional care with no hope of having a loving, permanent family of their own.

Building a System to Bring Children and Families Together

Over the past two years, the Indian government has worked to revise their adoption laws and procedures as well as train child care institutions, local child welfare authorities and courts. Part of this work includes significant efforts in documenting the thousands of children residing in orphanages throughout India—most these children growing up without hope of being reunited with their birth families or being adopted domestically.

Because India is such a large country, putting in place an electronic system that had information about the children in need of adoption was critical. India’s Central Adoption Authority (CARA) responded by creating this web-based registry; and with this system in place, their goal of more efficiently and effectively matching children who need families with potential adoptive parents is coming to fruition.

Doors Opening

The youngest and healthiest children are adopted by Indian families within the country or by Indian nationals that reside abroad (known as NRIs). But largely, if a child is over the age of 4 or is a child of any age with even a minor medical or developmental need, their only option currently is to find a family through intercountry adoption, or to remain in institutional care until they “emancipate.”

With the Indian government’s new system, accredited foreign adoption agencies such as WACAP can see a list of approximately 1,000 children, at any given time, who are older or have some issue that prevents them from being adopted domestically.

New Processes and System – Hope on the Rise

This online system is still being refined, and there are some challenges but in general, it is a great success because children who had no hope of being adopted before now have a chance.

These may be children older than 7 years whom the Indian government considers healthy; and boys and girls of all ages with a wide range of issues spanning from corrected medical issues, correctable conditions such as club foot or cleft palate, hearing or vision impairments, developmental delays, limb differences, complicated birth histories, blood conditions such as hepatitis B, HIV or thalassemia. There are also many, many children who have more involved conditions such as blindness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or epilepsy.

The Indian government does not allow adoption agencies to post waiting children’s photos publically, but we can share photos and basic information of waiting children with families that ask. Unlike the process in China and Bulgaria, the files of waiting children in India cannot be put on hold while the homestudy is being completed. Potential adoptive families must complete their homestudy and have it approved by the Indian government before a child can be matched with them.

For Children

Beyond any new or ongoing challenges the system brings, the great news is that many children who didn’t have a chance to be adopted now do.

If you have questions about adopting from India or the country’s requirements, you can learn more about WACAP’s India program here or contact WACAP’s information specialist. We would love to share more.


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.

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