China: Return to the Finding Place, Part II

First look at Pinky

(A Continued Story by WACAP Adoptive Parent Laura Templeton. For Part I, click here.)

As it usually is on a journey, things happen fast, and only in retrospect do you begin to see their true meaning and feel their impact.

This was true on our family’s trip to China last month, when we took our 13-year-old daughter back to the place where her life began. When we stopped in a Chinese village market to buy diapers and baby formula for the orphanage we were scheduled to visit, surrounded by the friendly village crowd, I became caught up in watching my daughter interact with the villagers and their curiosity over her baby picture.

In that spontaneous moment, we saw a crying woman in the crowd and learned that she had given up a daughter several years after we brought home our daughter. Through our interpreter, we told the woman that her daughter is probably happy and healthy and living in a family now, just like our daughter. There were smiles, and the moment was gone in the close of a van door.

Looking at our travel itinerary, I saw that we were going to visit our daughter’s “finding place.” We had been told it’s illegal to give up a child for adoption in China, so if a parent is unable to care for their child, they leave the child at the front step of the orphanage, or a public space where they will be quickly found. I dug out my daughter’s adoption papers and saw that she had been left at the Civil Affairs office. The official adoption papers are called the “notice of abandonment,” and they say that my daughter was “abandoned indefinitely.” My daughter pointed at “abandoned” and said, “I hate that word.” Just two days old, my daughter was bundled in a blanket, placed in a box with a bottle and formula, and left at the government gate in the wintertime.

We pulled up Google maps and tried to find the Civil Affairs building in Jinxiang, to no avail. This gate had become a larger than life landmark in my mind, so much that just thinking about it brought me to tears. I didn’t want my daughter to focus on the word “abandoned,” so I thought to myself, let’s focus on being found. With tears in my eyes, I penned a sign that read “FOUND, LOVED, CHERISHED.”

Templeton Family FOUND photo

Arriving at the finding place, we were surprised to see it was a busy city street corner. The setting and emotions weren’t the Hallmark moment I had anticipated. To my daughter’s surprise, I brought out the homemade sign, which she begrudgingly held for a photo op. She rolled her eyes at me as we took the picture, but seeing her standing on that street corner brought me back to the Chinese mother. With tears on her face, she was remembering the child she had lost. Across oceans and years and a language barrier that mother’s tears and mine were two sides of an adoption story. I watched my daughter tuck her sign into my backpack: “Found, Loved, Cherished.”

 

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, International Adoption, Reflections, Staff/Board Spotlight, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

China…A Return to the Finding Place

Templeton Trip Blog 1

By Laura Templeton

Twelve and a half years ago, we adopted our daughter Anna from China, with the help of WACAP. We promised her that we would visit China once she was a teenager. That’s how we found ourselves checking into a hotel in Nanchang, China last month. In eight hours we were going to visit the orphanage and the place where Anna was “found” 13 years ago on a street near the orphanage.

We had been looking forward to this trip for many years, and I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly. We invited all the other families whom we adopted with to join us, and one of them was able to travel with us on the emotional journey. We were thrilled to find that our original adoption guide, the fabulous Wendy, was still working in the area and was going to escort us once again. Even after 12 years, Wendy remembered all our names, where we worked, what we like to eat. She was the ultimate fixer, facilitating every detail of our days. And that’s exactly what I wanted for what would certainly be a very emotional trip.

When you’ve hardly slept for the past 36 hours, your emotions can be a bit dulled and your head a bit fuzzy. Back home before the trip, we prepared and talked as a family about Anna’s finding place, and I had moments where I found myself teary-eyed sitting in my house in Woodinville, WA.  But as we arrived at the bustling street corner and climbed out of the van, we were all surprisingly calm and non-reactive. And exhausted. Where was the emotion I had surely expected?

Impact Blog - Featured Image (640px x 300px)

The emotions, as they often do, came a little bit later.

In fact, the totally unscripted moment that unfolded next was the highlight of our day. After we left the finding place, we stopped to purchase diapers and formula for the orphanage. Leaving the store, we noticed we had attracted something of a crowd. The crowd followed us to our van, where they peeked in to catch a glimpse of the foreigners. On an impulse, we decided to step out and meet the growing crowd of curious, friendly  locals.

We spit out the few Chinese phrases we had learned, “My name is … I am the mama… I am 13 years old.” The crowd was several people deep now, and they were all smiling at us and giving us a thumbs up.

We shared photos from when the girls were babies — the crowd had their cell phones out taking photos of not just us, but also taking photos of our girls’ baby photos. It was such a fun, spontaneous interaction and we were so touched by the warm reception these total strangers gave us. And there it was…standing in a street in Nanchang, China, we were wrapped in a welcoming hug from my daughter’s hometown.

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, International Adoption, Travel, Uncategorized, WACAP | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Korea, Domestic and International Adoption Live Side by Side

boy-blue-sweater-sweet-expression-WACAP

By Mary Moo, WACAP Vice President of Adoptions

Several years ago the Korean government made a difficult decision and upended the adoption procedure that had been in place for roughly half a century.  It was a bold change and one that caused ripples in the adoption community since in addition to solving some problems, it created new ones and added delays.

With a negative population growth the Korean government would love to discontinue intercountry adoption. During the past years many agencies have been upfront with potential adoptive families about the Korean government’s desire to stop intercountry adoption.  This narrative and the significant delays caused by the overhaul to the adoption process has been taken to heart by potential adoptive parents in the U.S. After all, the news about countries closing their doors to foreign adoptive parents is a good reason for potential adoptive parents to be cautious. The reality however is that the Korean government continues to approve American and European citizens to adopt Korean children who aren’t being adopted domestically. There were only three other countries that adopted more children to the US in 2016 (China, DRC and Ukraine). Yet many agencies have very few families, if any, waiting to be matched with a baby from Korea.

The Korean government and adoption agencies in Korea continue to promote and encourage domestic Korean families to consider adoption. Unfortunately, old customs are hard to change and domestic adoption remains very limited within Korea. While progress is slow in breaking down old cultural stigmas of adoption within Korea there are still children (largely babies) that can be adopted by U.S. Citizens. Agencies also see hope in the fact that the Korean government is in the process of implementing the Hague Treaty. We hope that in doing so the Korean government, while continuing to promote domestic adoption, has come to a tacit acceptance of international adoption in small numbers.

With this in mind if you are considering adoption and you qualify to adopt from Korea please consider adopting through this amazing country.  You and your future child will benefit from decades of thoughtful consideration of how to serve members of the adoption triad (adoptee, birth parents, adoptive parents).  The three agencies accredited by the Korean government to coordinate intercountry adoption (as well as their work with domestic families) all have developed foster care programs to provide the best care possible for babies and toddlers waiting to be adopted.  If you live in Washington, North Carolina, Alaska or Utah WACAP can assist you in adopting from Korea. If you live in the other states WACAP can assist you in adopting one of the Korean waiting children we are advocating for.

Posted in Adoption, Call to Action, International Adoption, Travel, WACAP, Waiting Children | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Foothills of the Austrian Alps: A Resilience Story

A few weeks ago, the Siebert family wrote to us, and their story reached out and touched us here at WACAP headquarters. We’ve been following them on Facebook, which has been great because mom Cherie is a photographer, and each new twist and turn in their story is beautifully captured by her artistic eye and camera lens.

This story tells of two children, WACAP kids adopted from the Waiting Children program in China.

Below, her photo journal reminds us of the strength of family, even when the way ahead is unsteady and the path is difficult.


In mom Cherie’s words…

“We adopted Kai Dong and Ming Qiao when they were 2-½ and 19 months respectively, both with clubfoot and Ming with spina bifida. My husband is Austrian, and our plan was always to get the children the medical care that they needed at Johns Hopkins, and then to eventually move to the Austrian countryside to give the family a better quality of life and the children better educational opportunities.”

Siebert Family Impact BLOG story - Feature Pic

Kai, 5 and Ming, 3. They were both treated at Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital for clubfoot, and Ming had surgery for a tethered spinal cord related to her spina bifida.

Not long after the children came home, the family experienced what many other American families did, the crash of the housing market and economy, which impacted them greatly and delayed their plans for several years. They worked hard and finally did make it to Austria last year, settling in the remote foothills of the Alps.

On adjusting to a new life in Austria, Cherie reports, “Our kids are happy and healthy and we love them very much. They love their schools here and are beginning to speak German as well as they do English.”

Last week, she wrote about a new challenge that the family is facing:

“Now we have a different challenge—our family car (which we took to Austria) was one of those embroiled in a massive emissions scandal, and the manufacturer required us to ship the vehicle back to the U.S. at our own expense, and then proceeded to stonewall us with the buyback settlement.”

Siebert Scooter Trek

The family on the move again, just another beautiful but busy day

The situation has left the family stranded without a vehicle now for several months and has created a hardship for the entire family as they live in a remote region with limited public transport. Cherie says, “Our daughter Ming has a neurological deficit from the spina bifida that causes her to have limited use of her left leg, so walking 3 kilometers to the closest rail station is a real challenge, even with [the support of] her scooter. The rise up the hill on the return trip is extreme, as we live in the foothills.”

Siebert Family Walking

“13-year old Kai is superhuman. Ming and mom returned with varying degrees of mild heatstroke or heat exhaustion, but Kai made everyone food and then went back out with the bike to meet Papa at the station to get his heavy bags” — Cheri (Kai’s Mom)

Legal tangles and logistics nightmares have delayed the vehicle buyback and the family is counting on those funds to purchase a new vehicle, a sustainable electric van that will accommodate the children to their numerous medical appointments in the closest town. They’ve secured a sustainable energy vehicle subsidy from the Austrian government which will help additionally, but they are short the minimum down payment, and still need funds to pay for transportation until they can get the van.

For now, they walk to the nearest public transport station, spend time waiting in the hot sun, and pack groceries and supplies back and forth on an older bicycle, often logging 10-12 miles per day on foot.

Siebert Family Impact BLOG story - Train Pic

Ming and Kai, on the rails again

The transportation situation has been difficult on the children. Mom Cherie says the children are exhausted by the latest round of medical appointments they have scootered, walked, bused and ridden trains to. She reports that Kai is hanging in there, but Ming has become too fatigued and developed a bacterial infection and is on antibiotics. Thankfully the doctor caught it early and it’s not serious, “but she’s just worn out,” mom says.

Siebert Family Orthopedics Visit

Ming gets her feet scanned for orthopedic shoes to help her walk

In spite of that, she says the kids have been such troopers. And looking at the pictures of their daily journeys, we don’t see unhappy children in difficult times. We see children challenged by conditions at birth, parents challenged by corporate legal tangles, a family challenged by a season where daily life is hard work.

The family had another adventure this week. The school forgot to notify them that the children had to be picked up, so Kai and his mom had to walk over to the next village where Ming’s school is. As they left, a thunder and lightning storm came in with rain and a hail warning. Amazingly, by the time they were halfway there, the sun came out and when they came back it was only raining lightly. Kai carried Ming’s scooter so she could have it on the trip back and everyone celebrated with ice cream.

Siebert Family Break

Ming and Kai enjoy a cooling treat after another daily commuting adventure

The very next day, Cherie says, “I thought I might get a second wind today (one can dream) but after the two days with the 10-12 miles walked, the heat, and the carrying of groceries over hill and dale…. I’m not good for much more than lying very still and enjoying the evening breeze. I harvested salad from the balcony and superhero Kai made grilled cheese, which we all put tons of salt on. Thank goodness the children and I don’t have to get up early or go anywhere tomorrow.”

Siebert Kids on Hill

Kai helps Ming with a long, hilly climb

As the Siebert family waits for the vehicle buyback from the U.S. to finalize, hoping it happens in time to secure their new vehicle with a down payment, they continue daily treks across the hills of Austria. Back home their friends and family are watching their story unfold on Facebook, raising funds to help them with the mounting costs of the delay.

Impact Blog - Siebert 4 Pics Horiz

Just waiting on a train

Following along, we can’t stop thinking about them, and how they represent the balance of life: how challenges and troubles can often derail us, but other times the light shines through the cracks and we experience the triumph of resilience.

Posted in Adoption, Adoptive Parents' Perspectives, International Adoption, Reflections, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Today at WACAP: From the Heart

imageo fstone stairway; text reads

Today in the WACAP lunchroom … I asked my colleague about her day.

It was 2 p.m. – a little late for lunch – but it had been a difficult day, a case manager for WACAP’s China team, explained.

China had changed its adoption eligibility requirements, she shared, concern on her face. Her team had just learned the news, and they’d spent the day talking with families: families whose hopes and dreams they’d come to know well, and whose paths could now change as a result of this new information.

My colleague, an adoptive parent also, said she wished she had the answers to why the country’s adoption requirements changed. “There’s nothing harder than being caught between hope, love, dreams, and uncertainty,” she knew.

“But that’s why we’re here, especially why we’re here,” she added. “Especially when the steps are hard.”

inspired staff member, WACAP


If you have questions about China’s Adoption Eligibility changes, please contact us.

If you have questions about adopting, or the countries where WACAP works, please email us at wacap@wacap.org

WACAP is a champion for children, finding and preparing permanent families, and offering lifelong support after adoption.

Posted in Adoption, Memes, Quote, Staff/Board Spotlight, Support Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ever After”: Adoption Success Stories Through Another Lens

ever-after-success-story-featured

In the nonprofit world, success stories are our lifeline. Stories help us engage others to help us accomplish our mission. They allow opportunities to celebrate those times when everything comes together for good. At WACAP, hardly a day goes by that I don’t open an email to see a smiling family, a note that a waiting child will soon be adopted, or a graduation photo.

In real life, however, this idea is harder to come by. It implies that everything is perfect, and everyone is living “happily ever after,” but life is more complicated than that. We often allow the idea to imply that all is well for now and ever more, but happily ever after is, quite honestly, a lie.

When applied to adoption, the ever after we celebrate is not limited to the concept of an orphan child “being rescued or saved from a tragic fate.” The ever after we champion revolves around the commitment families make to each other and the profound way that, for a child with no one, it changes everything.

So, when we discuss success at WACAP, we like to think in terms of snapshots. Otherwise, you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today’s highlighted triumph may ultimately fall to the infamous Sports Illustrated “cover jinx.”

Trust me, no adoptive parent or child needs that level of pressure.

To me, the real beauty is found along all the rough edges. I am not compelled by the bright and shiny stories. I’m more drawn to the complicated ones, those in the midst of struggle. This idea normalizes adoptive families, placing us neither in the gutter nor atop any rickety pedestal. Adoptive parents would no sooner walk away than our biological counterparts. The occasional time out? Certainly. But we keep coming back.

The really good part of adoption is not when a family is found. No, the sweetest spot in adoption only appears when everything falls apart, and everyone stays.


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.

Posted in Domestic Adoption, From the CEO, International Adoption, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Mom Shares: “Building a Nest: Older Child Adoption”

WACAP parents Kristi and Alexander adopted their son, 7-year-old son Henry, in February. Here, Kristi shares about the experience of adopting an older child: what’s different, what’s familiar, and what’s amazing as their family of six grows closer.


May  2017 In my mind’s eye, I see a sparrow. She carefully arranges bits of string and twigs in her nest tucked by my window. A gust of wind comes and blows some of the nest away. She doesn’t stop her work. The sparrow continues to gather more building supplies for her home. With each tiny twig or bit of string she is creating a safe and secure nest for her babies. She is focused on her goal.

  Photo Credit: Sara Davis Photography

I am that sparrow. Having adopted him three months ago from China, my son is the baby bird, even though he is seven. My fourth child and my only son. My husband and I also have two biological daughters and one daughter adopted from China when she was 1-year-old.

We met him in a hotel lobby. A chaotic meeting place and first introduction. He arrived with the clothes on his back and a bag of candy to give us as a gift. The first moments with him were frenetic and he was nervous.  

I had prayed for this moment but I could barely catch his eye to say hello. This was my first indication that older child adoption was going to be different than adopting a younger child. The paperwork had all looked the same. The flight to China was just as long. But in this moment chasing my son through a hotel lobby—this was all new.

Our time in China can best be described as a “rescue and recovery” mission, in a sense. We tried desperately with the help of our translator to build bridges with our son and find common ground where we could start to bond. He was very restless and it was very difficult for him to calm. We had been prepared by our agency for the different types of responses children might have to the adoption process. But to see in person how truly difficult and traumatic this is for a little soul. To be immersed in a world so foreign, where every sense is engaged, heightened and pressed on every side must be terribly shocking and difficult. That young person is unsure where they fit in this new reality, and this can result in reactions such as grieving, acting out, shutting down or overstimulation.

Our son responded to this sudden jolt of new reality by staying in a heightened state of overstimulation for the first couple of days. By the third day, we began to see glimpses of him. He was holding his sisters’ hands and joyfully counting in Mandarin and in English. However, he continued to have a great deal of nervous energy and struggled to control his emotions when things did not go his way. By the end of the first week, he was communicating in a very basic way regarding hunger and toilet needs. He was also snuggling and hugging as well.  

As we made the long trip home, I wondered what this new reality would look like as we slipped into the schedule of day-to-day. I scanned his face to try to peer into his soul—desperately wanting to guess his feelings and thoughts as well. He had always lived in the orphanage. His world had been so very small for so long and it had changed in a matter of seconds, the moment he became our son. His home, food, toys, friends and caregivers instantly changed. When asked, he confidently and happily exclaimed that “He was going to Meiguo’ (America).” But he had no idea what that truly meant yet.

Our first month home, we immediately attended to medical needs first. Our son had undergone two major surgeries, including open heart surgery, and spent many months of his early life very ill and laying alone in a hospital bed. We visited doctors to ensure that he was healthy and determined next steps for medical care. No matter how necessary, I can only imagine how terrifying this must have been for our son to endure this onslaught of medical care in an unfamiliar setting. We continually reassured him that we would be by his side when he expressed fear and reservations. 

Like a newborn, our son was learning at a rapid pace and demanding much of our attention in the process. The first month home we were exhausted. We laughed and cried. We got it right some days and some days we missed the mark. We were so grateful for the loving support and help of family and friends. They provided much needed respite, brought meals and even helped with laundry.

Having never seen a home, and especially a kitchen, our son was learning new rules of safety. Our other children acted as playmates, teachers and helpmates as he learned how to co-exist in a home. Our three daughters’ love, compassion and patience with their brother has been amazing to witness.

There is evidence of sensory deprivation. For seven years, he lived in a small group of rooms at the orphanage, rarely going outside and not experiencing many hugs or cuddles. As a way to compensate or, overcompensate, for what was lacking in his early years, he constantly seeks out new sensory experiences, whether it be a shiny button to push or a spicy food to try. Also, if you meet him you will likely find yourself wrapped in a big bear hug or the recipient of a happy high-five.

With so many children in an institutionalized setting, caregivers and nannies rarely have time to discuss emotions and feelings with the children in their care. Children who are adopted as older children struggle to correctly match emotions and proper responses to everyday experiences. Our son takes disappointment, and not getting his way, especially hard. To combat this, we read books on different emotions and talk about how we can deal with sadness, fear, anger and frustration. Moreover, we talk through proper ways to behave when we are happy or excited. This, I confess, I had taken for granted in my other children, and I am learning how to help our son to process the range of emotions he is encountering.  

Despite all this hardship as a young child, our son radiates joy and excitement for life. He loves his family and his home. Our son is so proud when he accomplishes new things. He loves reading books, listening to music, riding his bike, attending church and playing with his dog. But his favorite part of any day is playing with his sisters.

He never misses an opportunity to tell someone he loves them. This is a gift he has given to us—our family will never take the gift of love for granted.

We have been together now for three months. The nest we had built for our family had to be completely rebuilt as our family dynamic shifted and changed. Every day, we take steps backward and steps forward. By the time I gather more twigs, the winds have changed. But there is one thing I know, like that sparrow I will keep working and fiercely protect my nest.


We are so grateful to WACAP for helping us wade through the adoption process to bring home two of our children. This process can be arduous and scary, but the staff at WACAP was always there to help us. I would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to take the next step and talk to a WACAP staff person today. There are so many children who need a loving family. We are so glad we said YES!

By Kristi Dews Dale

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, International Adoption, Reflections, Welcome Home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Becoming a Father — On Becoming a Grownup

I’ve been trying to remember the first moment I became a father. My wife and I adopted a sibling group of two when parenthood first landed on us: a 4 year old girl and her 2 year old brother. There was no delivery room for us. Given that ours was a domestic adoption, and it was local, there was no grand travel adventure. It was a process, marked by a clandestine first observational encounter, then multiple pre-placement visits. So when was the exact moment? I don’t really know.

Colorful summer sunset at Tybee Island, Georgia

There are snapshots I recall: sitting in an adjacent booth at a fast food joint while their then-caregivers brought them to play and have a snack. We weren’t to talk or interact, because in the late ‘90s the idea was to observe children live and in person before fully committing, and these siblings weren’t to know it was happening. My strongest memory of the day was of a red-haired little girl wandering around, as four-year-olds are prone to do, stopping in front of our booth and staring at us. What was she thinking? Did she know that we would soon forge a family through trials and false starts and mistakes and celebrations? Did she understand the significance of how her world would soon shift?

I remember our first pre-placement visit, where that same little girl was talking through photos of her recent Halloween costume: a clown. Her brother was in his high chair, a bowl of cereal in front of him. His stare was also fixed, curious about these two strangers. We read to them, played with them and tucked them into their beds in their temporary home each night for a full week. On the last day, we piled them into our car and drove away. Parents? Or strangers still?

I remember thinking, “What now?”

It should have felt more momentous. It should have been more ceremonial. Instead, we found our way to another fast food play land and watched them explore. I don’t remember excitement. I remember an anticlimactic feeling, and a curiosity and disbelief that this was how it actually happened. We just put them in our car and drove away. They were ours now, and we were theirs. What on earth did that mean?

When our biological daughter was born two years later, it all made sense. Of course, we were experienced parents by that point, but the birth met any expectations we had after years of societal conditioning: doctors and nurses, visitors, flowers and balloons. Our older daughter noticed how her hands matched those of her newborn sister. Our son asked if he could “pet her.”

We wouldn’t add to our family for another fifteen years. This time, it was a twenty-three year old adult whom we adopted. There was absolutely no conditioned expectations for this experience. This, to no one’s surprise, was completely new. He had grown up in foster care, “aged out,” then we met. He asked us to adopt him after a three-year relationship. What kind of courage did that take? I wonder about that to this day. For him, though, he tells me that it was no big thing.

It was a huge thing.

It is a huge thing. And it will continue to be so, I suspect.

I have been a parent for twenty years. My children are now ages eighteen, twenty-two, twenty-four and twenty-seven. And I still don’t have a clue. I look back and see more mistakes than successes. This means that I see a history marked by forgiveness and new starts. I see relationships best described as stubborn and committed. My children have stuck with me in spite of all my mistakes and stubbornness.

We’re figuring it out together.

Fatherhood, in my experience, has proven that as much as I would like to make everything better, some things can’t, or shouldn’t be fixed. Fatherhood means that I just need to be there. I need to listen. I need to forgive, and I need to be forgiven. Fatherhood means that I will stay when others leave, as many people in our lives have done. People sometimes bail. Fathers don’t.

And as soon as I type that last sentence, I am guilt-ridden. Just as my three oldest children were beginning to figure out adulthood, the other half of their family moved away. From Texas to Washington, we left them. I once asked my oldest if that act felt like an abandonment. It did.

Ouch.

We keep taking another step forward. We figure out grandparenting and long-distance parenting. We struggle with phone calls vs. texts vs. facetime (and there is an etiquette for this so individualized to the person it will make your head spin.) We declare that it is worth it. Our lives are filled with extra layers of birth family and life before we ever met each other. Time and energy spent figuring out how to be there for each other is always a worthwhile investment.

There is a joy to fatherhood that I’m only recently discovering. It is better than anything so far, and that is the opportunity to see your children finding their way and becoming real life, grownup humans: a mom, a friend, a cook, a photographer, a sign-language speaker, a student, a driver, a nurse. Their signal grows stronger with each passing year, and they are becoming. After hurting with them through struggle, I have been engulfed by waves of pride as they begin to walk out the other side into a life that is meaningful and unique and beautiful.

Fathers, enjoy every minute. Sit with your children through struggles. Listen to them. I wish so desperately to go backward and do this more, which is impossible, so I try to do it now. Invest the time, connect with them, and one day you will have an opportunity to behold a kind of rare beauty in their becoming that will put to shame the longest lingering summer sunset.


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.

Posted in Domestic Adoption, Foster Care, From the CEO, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adoption FAQ: “What if I get pregnant during the adoption process?”

debbie-adoption-info-specialist

Debbie, Adoption Information Specialist

Individuals consider adopting for different reasons, and different factors affect the timing, and even the urgency driving this life-changing decision. Some families have experienced a difficult road of infertility and find adoption a remaining or open path to giving their love to a child. For others, adoption is one of the considered paths to starting or adding to their family.

Not surprisingly, a question that’s asked frequently by those inquiring about adoption has to do with pregnancy. “What happens if I get pregnant during our adoption process?” aspiring parents often ask. Or in follow-up, “Why do I have to put my adoption on hold?”

I feel it’s beneficial to share what happens if a family learns they’re pregnant while in the process of adopting. It’s also important to understand the reasons why it’s best to put the adoption on hold. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Elana Roschy, WACAP’s director of Social Services, who expanded on this topic. Please read on for her response.


sign signifying a bend in the road against a hillside

Families do become pregnant during the adoption process, and WACAP works with each family case by case when it happens to determine how it will affect their adoption.

For instance, a country may have requirements related to the number of children that can be living at home. We make sure families understand those requirements, as well as why WACAP’s policy (requiring at least one year between placements of children, whether by birth or adoption) is intended to support families and their attachment to the children joining their family.

As we engage families in discussion and look at their situations individually, often families are required to place their adoption on hold.

While the process of putting an adoption plan or process on hold can raise questions/concerns on behalf of a family, it is most important for us to help families understand the reasons why we ask this of them.

  • We believe it is very important to allow time to adjust after the addition of each child. And we know from our years of experience, that children joining a family through adoption and who come from hard places require mindful attention to their attachment process. We counsel all of our families about the importance of those first few months home and how best to nurture this attachment and security for their new child.
  • We feel that the placement of a child through adoption too soon after the birth of a child can create an environment not always conducive to healthy attachment.
  • We want to allow time for parents, after the birth of their child, to adjust. We know some parents need time to adjust to how their bodies may respond. Some may experience postpartum depression, feel overly protective of their new baby, or ultimately want or need more time to reinforce their bond.
  • This time with a new baby is so important to a baby’s development and to the bonding process, just as we feel the time with a newly adopted child is. It is our responsibility to ensure that each child placed with his or her new family is going to receive the appropriate attention needed to develop that secure attachment needed to succeed.
  • We ask that after a family’s baby is born and a set amount of time has passed, that we reconnect, and talk about how the family is adjusting. In addition, this is an opportune time to discuss their feelings about their adoption plans and ultimately update the homestudy to move forward.

Even when the picture changes and a family’s plans need to go on hold, it’s our privilege to talk with parents about paths that are open along the way, or around the bend.


head shot of WACAP's director of social services, smiling About WACAP’s Director of Social Services, Elana Roschy: Elana enjoys interacting with WACAP families and staff, and helping to ensure that families receive both the initial and ongoing support they need as they adopt. Over the last decade, Elana has worked in WACAP’s adoption programs, and as a social worker for WACAP, she’s worked one-on-one with numerous individuals and couples, helping them through their homestudy process and supporting them after their adoption. As WACAP’s director of social services, she’s delighted to introduce and grow WACAP’s support, education and training services for families.

Posted in Adoption, Adoption FAQ, Domestic Adoption, International Adoption, Staff/Board Spotlight, Support Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Adoptees’ Stories: Two Perspectives on Growing Up Adopted

Both impacted by adoption, Katelyn, adopted from Russia, and Jacob, adopted from Colombia, each have unique stories to tell about growing up adopted. Each was profoundly changed by family, and both carry powerful feelings that continue to shape who they are.  

Thank you to WACAP adoptees Katelyn and Jacob for sharing about their journeys, the families who shaped their paths, and what they’d like others to know.  


KATELYN:

Katie-Junior-PictureKatelyn, adopted from Novosibirsk, Russia, today is a junior in high school. A competitive gymnast with a spirited personality, she believes adoption – and having a family’s love and care – has transformed her life. Katie life’s had a difficult start, but that’s one of the reasons she values all the more the opportunities she’s had and the parents who’ve always told her how much they value her. She knows adoption isn’t perfect, and that families aren’t perfect, but that’s also why she tells her own story: to bring others the hope that she has found.


Meet Katie

My name is Katelyn, and my family and friends call me Katie. I am a junior in high school in North Carolina, where I am at the top of my class academically (with a 4.4 GPA). I am also a competitive gymnast and have committed to a full Division I scholarship at a wonderful university in my state. What people don’t know about me is that I was adopted – adopted from Novosibirsk, Russia.

I often wonder, “When people hear that, what do they think of?” Lately I am afraid that too many negative things, worries, and concerns run through people’s minds. I’ve learned that many people, including me, have heard many negative stories about adoption, and not enough success stories.

This is why I am here to share mine.

Against All Odds

When I was born, I was 5 pounds 3 ounces, and my biological mother left me in the state hospital in Novosibirsk. I should have weighed 12 pounds by December. Instead I was only 6 pound, but I was still fighting to live against all odds.

I was transferred to the orphanage with the label “failure to thrive.” Adoption agencies deemed me “unadoptable,” yet I still fought for my life.

The doctor at my orphanage took me from the baby room and used to let me play in her office while she worked. When my parents called the doctor to discuss another child they might have considered for adoption, she told them about me.

Charisma That Inspired

My mother says that my charisma and spirit affected the doctor so much that when my parents spoke to her, all she spoke about was me. Many of my parents’ friends cautioned them not to proceed, but my mom and dad responded together from separate phones, “She is our daughter, when can we come bring her home?” My mom swears it was inspired by God. There was no way to explain it. Although, when my parents me for the first time, I had become very ill. I still kept fighting. When they finally brought me home, they gave my strong antibiotics, and I started to thrive quickly.

Although it seemed grim for me from the start, with the proper love and care, I was to become the young woman I am today, almost getting ready to be on my way to college.

Children Like Me

I believe that it is a shame so much negativity – from stereotypes, or stories we’ve heard – is associated with the very thing that has given me a family, my life, and the blessing that I have today. I share my story in hope to inspire many others, in hope to lift the “burden of negativity” keeping many children that are like me from being adopted and not given the opportunity to thrive as I was.

I hope that my story shows that only the proper love and care can have the ability to give a child a second chance, a second chance for a happy life and a chance to thrive. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and I hope to have either changed what you have believed or have encouraged you to spread the word to others about my story or other success stories you have heard. Thank you for yet another opportunity to share my story and possibly save another child just like myself.

Katie-Parents-Nationals-Competition


JACOB:

Jacob-Soccer-Jersey.pngJacob was born in Cali, Colombia. He was adopted in the mid-80s by parents whom he describes as supportive and exemplary to him and to his sister.

Noting too that he had limited exposure to his country of origin and culture growing up — or to others who looked like him — Jacob considers the experience of growing up adopted and the questions he came to ask about identity and belonging. As he reflects on his experience, he offers his thoughts about what adoptive families need to know from the start, plus words of encouragement and courage to families, especially when the difficult conversations arise.


From an Adult Adoptee: Advice to Adoptive Parents

As an adoptive parent today, there is every reason to learn about and honor your new child’s country of origin. (To say it simply: There is no longer any excuse not to.) We are constantly bombarded with information on a daily basis, and we have answers to even some of the most pressing questions available at the touch of a screen we can pull from our pocket.

Limited Mirrors for People Who Resembled Me

My parents are fantastic people and have been exemplary to my sister and me, but they were at a massive disadvantage when they adopted us in the mid-80’s for the simple fact that information about Colombia and its culture were not that readily available. They are monolingual English speakers, as is the rest of the family, so it was not until high school that I was exposed to Spanish for the first time (and even then, the instruction was mediocre at best). Their house is still geographically isolated from any ethnic diversity, so my only mirror for people that resembled me when I was growing up was a meteorologist on TV named Steve Pool and eventually Ken Griffey, Jr.

This issue of ethnic isolation was what affected me most while growing up. My family, friends, teachers, coaches, people at restaurants, everyone was white and even my sister could “pass” for a white person during the winter months.

Ethnicity and Identity: Dreams and Dialogue

I can still vividly remember a dream I had when I was approximately 13 years old. In the dream I walked to the bathroom on the bottom floor of my parent’s house, turned on the light and the reflection staring back at me was a white face. Shocked and angry, I jumped back and was curious as to how my brown skin had been kidnapped. Twenty years later, I look back on that dream, still happy it was only that—a simple dream. No desire to be white has ever crawled into my mind, even when I endured ignorant and racist comments in my academic and athletic life. I have always been and remain proud of where I come from and where I plan to go.

Influential Conversations

And that is where my parents, especially my mom, have been so influential.

From the time I can remember, my parents have always been very open with us about our past and as we got older, they did not shy away from having the difficult conversations about identity and our biological families. I commend them for respecting us enough to tell us the entire truth as they knew it.

Of course, their own life experiences could not have prepared them to completely answer me when I came home from elementary school asking what the N-word meant, for example. While they were open to hearing questions about race/ethnicity, it has become clear to me they were unprepared to have profound discussions about it or offer any kind of meaningful advice regarding those topics.

I am convinced that had they had more training or even simply a more diverse group of friends and acquaintances, my sister and I would have been more prepared to articulate our own feelings of identity and belonging as we continued to develop.

Sharing, Finding Courage

I have described these experiences to highlight my own advice to those embarking on this tumultuous yet rewarding experience of adopting a child: Out of respect for your new son or daughter, do not be shy. Even if your voice quivers and your palms sweat, have the audacity to look them in the eye and have the courageous conversations that will ultimately lead to enhanced trust between you. You owe it to yourselves and yes; you owe it to them us.

Jacob-Mom

More about Jacob:

Jacob Taylor-Mosquera was born in Cali, Colombia and adopted through WACAP at eight months. He was raised in the Gig Harbor/Tacoma area where he attended high school and played soccer. He studied international relations and Spanish at Pacific Lutheran University, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama and completed an M.A. in public policy with an emphasis in Latin America at Leiden University in the Netherlands. In 2004, he found his biological family in Colombia and has maintained a positive relationship with them. He enjoys traveling, dancing, amateur photography and is learning French. Jacob will return to Washington State this summer to begin teaching Spanish and coaching soccer.  


Along with 16 other Colombian adoptees, Jacob has just published a book detailing the experiences of Colombian adoptees in the U.S and Europe. The proceeds of this project will go towards funding DNA tests for adoptees beginning their search for their biological families back in Colombia. For more information, please visit their website at www.decodingorigins.com.

Posted in Adoptees' Perspectives, Adoption, Adoption FAQ, International Adoption, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment