You’re listening to Together by AGCI. I’m Melissa Rush. Today we’re chatting with AGCI director of Adoption Latin America and the Caribbean, Sam Moore.
I’m so excited to share our conversation about waiting children. We dove into every aspect of this important topic, including what it means for a child to be classified as waiting and the incredible hope that we have for these amazing kids.
Let’s get into our conversation. Well, Sam, thank you so much for joining us. I’m so excited to learn more about waiting kids and how we can all be better advocates. Definitely. I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me, Melissa. Of course. So can you just let’s just start, you know, at the very basic level, what does it mean to be a waiting child?
Sure. So we I know on our last episode together, we talked a little bit about we spoke about the Hague Convention and we spoke about kind of that Hague process of how a child enters care, the various reasons that they might be entering care. And then also we spoke about the registries of families that are open to a wide range of ages and special needs.
And then we spoke about the registries and kind of the way that children enter those registries or enter those lists to be considered for a variety of permanency options, whether that is reunification with biological family placement, with a kinship relative or placement into an adoptive family resource, whether that’s domestically or internationally. So we kind of watch through all of that, and that’s really where this question comes into play.
You know, what does it mean for waiting child really all children that are in need of a permanency solution outside of their natural birth families would be considered a waiting child. But how we the waiting children that many families will see that we’re advocating for on a weekly basis or that we’re calling families about who are waiting, have been through all of those steps that we’ve spoken about to become legally freed for adoption, but also have been through potentially maybe a number of placement options that maybe didn’t work out.
Or a child who has identified needs or is of an age that’s older or a part of a sibling group where there are no families who have been registered with their paperwork in the country who say, yes, we’re open to that. So just to kind of recap the registry process, a child, you know, once they have entered into care, their information will be stored in a registry of children and the country will also have a registry of adoptive families who say what they’re open to.
And they will make matches based on those registries when a child is on that first registry and there’s no family that’s open to their needs and those needs to be just a heightened special need. It could be that they’re a part of a big sibling group or just that they’re older, maybe they’re 11 or 12, and there’s no family that’s open to that.
That’s when they move to kind of that that separate registry for waiting children, meaning that we need to we need to double down on our advocacy as an agency, all the agencies that advocate for waiting kids and find a family who can say, yes, I am open to that and that way. So the goal is that all children on when they come into care and they’re registered, that they would be matched with a family who’s already registered.
So on our end we double down in advocacy in the way of finding families that are really open to those harder needs, whether that’s a special need, whether that’s older kids, sibling groups, first and foremost, if we can find those families, then the matches can just happen. But if they’re not able to, then that’s when we kind of have to go out and do even more advocacy directly with families who maybe never considered adopting an older child, but now they’re moving towards that.
So I guess what it means to be a waiting child, it means that there hasn’t been a family that could be an adoptive resource for this child yet. But there’s hope. There’s always hope that we can find that. Right family? Yeah, absolutely. So for people who are kind of new to this process or new to, you know, adoption like our waiting kids, is that generally or is that generally who you’re placing with families?
Or is it can you just talk a little bit about that, like what that typically looks like? Sure. So we have an international adoption. There really can be a two pathways for adoptive families to be to be matched with the child that they’re hoping to parent first and more traditional way would be for a family to complete their paperwork, which includes their home study and immigration dossier paperwork, and submit that to the country that they want to adopt from.
So, for example, Colombia. Mm hmm. When the documents are submitted, the central authority of whichever country they’ve submitted to would say, yes, you’re approved and registered, and now you’re considered a waiting family. And then any adoption committee at any meeting that the Central authorities having to review families and kids that are on that first kind of registered list, they would say, great, we have Johnny.
He’s five. He has these needs. We have the Smith family. They’re open to his needs. They’ve been waiting. Here’s a match. And that’s kind of the ideal way. If we had a family who are open to all the needs of the kids, that would be the great way. But the other path would be through doing waiting, child advocacy and from the agency’s perspective, calling families who maybe have been waiting a year or a little bit longer to be matched with a child.
Maybe they haven’t yet. Maybe they’ve expressed to us at the time of their home city update that, hey, we’ve been we’ve been praying and we’ve been feeling really called to adopt a child a little bit older than we originally thought. And we would speak about that. And then when we do, if they’re raising their age range, even by one year or two years, can really make a difference of who that family can be the best fit for, because there are so many kids that are kind of in that middle 5 to 10 age range that are really in need of family.
So it’s been the last year, I would say in 2020 to about 75 to 85% of our matches for families, families finding, you know, really being able to be that resource for a child have been waiting children. Wow. And then the other kind of 15% or so has been four or 25% or so I’m ask is terrible has been you’re fine that’s wrong not okay in 2022 we’ve seen that about 75 to 85% of our matches or kind of families being able to be that resource for a child have been for waiting children.
And then about that other 25% or so has been official referrals kind of through that. Just waiting to be matched process. And one thing that’s important to keep in mind is that, you know, the waiting child process, each process is going to have its own challenges. When you’re waiting in a traditional path and you’re just waiting to be matched, that can be incredibly exhausting.
The wait time can be hard. We’ve talked a lot about that with families before, but also the pursuing a waiting child can also be difficult in its own way because you have this special connection and you feel called towards that specific child. And that process requires for the central authority or the children’s home to review your file and choose you for that child, which typically agency families.
We have wonderful families who are really open, who have amazing training for families are forever. We really have this great model. And so a lot of times our families are chosen for these kiddos because they really are prepared specifically for that child, which is wonderful. So those are just some nuances to that process. Oh, that’s awesome. And that’s amazing to hear that.
That seems like a high percentage. It is. It’s a big increase we have. I keep using the term double down because we’ve just been, you know, doubling down on what we can believe God for in all of this, for waiting children. And our whole team has just been working really hard to connect with our local partners and each country to learn more about who are the kids that are waiting to learn more about their needs and to really see the need and meet the need.
We have to think about who are the families that we’re recruiting for originally, originally to join the program, and who are the families that we can call about these kids? And gosh, has been bringing a lot of families who are so open and whose hearts have grown for special needs or for older kids. So that’s been it’s been a big increase in waiting child advocacy, which has been amazing.
Oh, that’s so great to hear. So obviously education and like making sure that families are prepared for what all this can looks like is huge. Like, what do you what’s something that you feel like people often misunderstand about waiting kids or that you wish, you know, there was more information about? I think that families often will ask questions.
Something similar to that. Like what? What are we missing? What’s the missing puzzle piece here? Like, why is this kid still waiting? And I think as someone who has been able to have the privilege to go and meet these kids, I’ve met a lot, many of them in a number of the countries that we work in. And so many of our staff, we prioritize that.
Our staff travels and we meet these children. We get to know them so that we can better tell their story. And that’s a gift. That’s a blessing for us to be able to do that, because we can then speak with families about these amazing personalities and help their stories come across. And we have a wonderful team who helps us tell that story through video, through photos, through writing of the profiles.
And all of those pieces are a part of how we advocate. And I think that a lot of families might think to themselves when they when they see a child who’s 11 or 12, well, there must be something so significantly challenging about parenting this child that that that they would still be waiting. But, you know, if you think about the timeline of a child, I know we spoke about this last time, too, in our last episode, the timeline of what a child is going through during this period.
They’re there, you know, maybe they entered care at age six or seven. And then there is the whole legal process of of helping them come to some sort of permanency solution, whether that is as adoption as their final outcome permanency goal or is placement back into bio family as possible placement with kinship or domestic placement. And so that can all take, depending on the country months to years.
And then by the time they are legally freed, making sure that their paperwork is up today, you know, depending on if they’re living in care in a more rural area versus in one of the major cities in the countries, the social workers having resources and access to make sure the file is transferred to the appropriate office so that they can be considered on the list.
I mean, there’s so many steps and all the while that child is is waiting and truly waiting for that, all those steps to happen. And so, you know, a ten year old who we’re advocating for may have entered care at age five or six, but they haven’t been legally freed until very recently. And now that they are there are may need is that they are older.
They’ve likely experienced a number of traumatic experiences. And so they may have associated behaviors with that or they may need some supports. But medically, typically, many of our older children that we advocate for medically from a from a medical and health standpoint are doing very well. And from a developmental standpoint, we have a lot of great reports on how they’re doing and engaging in their therapies that they have in care.
And they may be kind of that standard example of the chronological age might not align with their developmental age given that time they’ve spent in care. And then we do also have a number of children who are waiting, who do have significant medical needs or significant behavioral challenges that we know it has to be the right family. Yeah, speaking to that education.
But I do wish that families could have that perspective and I try to provide that through our work with our families and share with them about that journey of what the child’s going through as a waiting child. Because there’s nothing wrong with any any of these children. You know, that list is not because oh, there must be something so challenging about that child that she was, but that the right family has not come forward for that child yet.
And that right family could be listening to this right now. And, you know, be on our website and look at, let’s see a child and feel called to learn more about them. And I just wish more families knew more about this. Why I’m excited we’re doing this episode because the waiting child process, it’s truly driven by families who have a heart for these kids and that most of these kids there may need us, that there just hasn’t been the right family that has stepped forward.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, it’s exciting to see like the growth with that and that people are starting to kind of understand. And I mean, you know, and I think sometimes people look at older kids and they’re like, oh, well, you know what? What’s left for me? But like teenagers like pretty they need. So there’s so much parenting that still needs to happen and guidance and love and all those things.
And I mean, that is such a can be a very trying time in life like for everyone. And so to imagine navigating all of that and not having the love and support of a family is just like heartbreaking. So, you know, obviously, once a child has been I don’t know if this is the right term, I guess, like classify it as a weeding, as a waiting child.
What is like what are the outcomes that you typically see? Like, obviously, our hope at that point would be that the right family steps forward and they’re able to be adopted. Is that what you see happen a lot of the time? What are kind of some of those outcomes that you see? Yeah, that is that’s the that’s the goal.
That’s the hope is that once we are made aware of a child, for example, that’s living at one of the children’s homes in Colombia, that we we get that we get their information and we learn about where they’re at and we try to get to know them. So, again, you know, it is really, really committed to whether that’s our partners in the country or whether our our U.S. based staff is also traveling and getting to know these kids so we can best advocate and tell that story.
And then the goal is that through and through calling families that we already have on our list who we think, oh, they might be open, let’s see, you know, or just really through talking with new families who join our programs about the reality of who the kids are and what the needs are, the scope, yeah, I think has been has been great.
And some of those outcomes that we do see are that families step forward, families are able to put together their paperwork and be chosen for these kiddos and move forward with an adoption. And that is we celebrate so much because it’s so exciting to watch that journey. And of course we are always trying to think about what is the not only what is in the best interest of that child in terms of an outcome, but also which process or pathway for permanency will be the fastest for the child because they’ve already been waiting so, so long.
And so if we find that right family, we are lighting a fire under all of our, you know, all of our work together with the family to say, let’s get this paperwork done and let’s get it turned in so that you can be officially matched. Because with waiting children, that is a really key thing is that you’re submitting a letter of intent to say, we’d like to adopt this child, but and typically we that is, you know, you kind of work towards having that home study done before you do that so that we really understand the scope of the needs the family is open to.
But then there’s other paperwork that has to be done in order to be considered for the official referral in some families, most of our families, once they know the name and face of a child, are also moving very quickly. Yes, that is an outcome. That’s one outcome. That’s the goal outcome. Yeah. But unfortunately, some of the other outcomes that we do see is if we don’t have the right families, step forward.
We do see that children that continue, of course, they grow. They continue to grow and they continue to grow and develop in care. They’re they’re growing up in a children’s home. They’re not growing up in the context of a family. And so, you know, we do have a waiting child that we’ve been advocating for for a number of years.
We advocate for him. His name is Brady. And we have been I’ve we’ve all met him. We’ve all been at Columbia. We’ve spent time with this beautiful boy. He has truly a heart of gold. And he has made leaps and bounds of progress. And his care givers are so moved by how much progress he’s made over the years.
And our hearts are all moved for him and also breaking for him because he has been advocated for as a waiting child for so long. And while some of his needs are certainly needs that the right family does need to be ready for, you know, some of the experiences he has had have been hard, which, of course, as all the families that join programs and really anyone who kind of follows along on the podcast, we’re all about TBI here, of course.
Yes, from a trauma perspective, like we understand where those behaviors are coming from. But his work that he has done over the last few years with his care team and his therapists has really brought him to a place of of desire for a family, of understanding what a family context could look like. But that is an outcome that we we try to avoid.
We would prefer that, you know, of course, we can try to find that forever family right away. As soon as a child is legally freed for adoption and in need. But that is one outcome that we see that oftentimes with, you know, children that that we can’t find a family for. We continue to advocate for and we continue to push.
And sometimes if that child is not in a care setting that like like Brady is, which we’re so that’s such a blessing. He’s he’s blessed by the therapists and caregivers he has because they’ve been able to their trauma informed advocate closely with us on TBI so they’ve been able to work with him on that. But if a child is not in that setting, for example, you know, a child may end up exiting care and aging out of care.
You know, whatever age that looks like in each country and their cycle continues onward because we we weren’t able to intervene at the various milestones of their life. And I loved what you said. I wanted to go back. I loved what you said about families who maybe are praying over being open to older children because they might they might think, oh, well, what’s left what’s left in that life cycle for me?
And the truth of it is and I know we’ve all gotten to meet and spend time with Brady, but yes, he is the older child. But there is a a going back when he’s in a safe setting and when he feels comfortable with his caregivers, where there’s nurture and there’s comfort that he is seeking that that matters more.
So a child that is younger than he is logically, and that both from a school standpoint, from a developmental, how are they doing in school? What grade would they be in standpoint? Yes, that absolutely there’s a difference between chronological and developmental almost always. But there’s also that emotional development that is definitely you see the difference between the chronological age and that emotional development, and that has to do with the trauma that children have experienced.
But there is so much left to do and there’s so much you have to grow and bond to grow with older children. And I know we have a number of families who’ve adopted older kids, who have shared their testimony on our prayer and encouragement calls and even on our podcasts. And it’s it’s just so wonderful to hear the stories of how, you know, they never got to learn how to swim or something that is like a younger child thing that you would expect, oh, it’s five year old should know that, but they never had that experience.
And that’s a really kind of surface level experience. But it’s one that stood out to me with a family one time that they were like, Yeah, we, we thought maybe he would know, but he didn’t. And then we got to teach him and how, you know, that healthy touch and that that special time helps them attach and bond because learning how to swim requires you to trust the person who’s teaching you how to swim.
I learned how to swim as an adult and I remember freaking out. So I know that that’s a very intimate thing. But to be able to let your guard down and let your adoptive parent teach you how to swim, even when you’re at 12, 13, 14, that’s a huge a huge piece of it. So there’s still so much to be a part of in the lives of older children.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I mean, I just you’re talking about Brady. Like, I just tell I was recently in Colombia, like a few months ago, and I got to to spend some time with him and play soccer with him. And it was I mean, it was so wonderful to see how well he’s doing. And like, he’s see, he’s a happy, like, loving, sweet kid.
But then it also just totally breaks your heart. But he’s still he’s still waiting. And I am thankful he is getting incredible care. But it’s not a family. Right. You know, and he has that awareness, you know, like he that’s something he wants and talks about. And and that is, you know, I just he we pray that someone will we’ll hear his story and we’ll step forward and we will not stop fighting for him.
But it is hard to watch kids like just because I mean, that’s the thing with kids. I mean, it’s been a few years and they’re doubled in size there, you know what I mean is if they keep growing, you can’t freeze them in time. And he’s made like you said, we’re grateful for the characters. He’s made so much progress, which hopefully will help, you know, the right family be able to meet him where he’s at.
But yeah, he has he has absolutely, I think, tripled in size since I met him in 2016. So I, I know that he is growing in so many different ways and we all love him here. If I have anyone who’s listening, can’t tell. But yes, we’re praying. Praying, and anybody who’s listening can join us in that prayer for sure.
Yeah. Yeah. And I also just want to I love how you you talked about like how there’s so much more to do with older kids. Like, it kind of shows you the fact that if you miss out on on that, on that healthy touch and connection and all of those things that we just without thinking about, give to little kids, like that’s how you interact with them.
But that’s just such a basic human need that if you miss out on that, like, you still need that as as a 12 year old, as a, you know, whatever age you are, like, it’s, it’s essential. And so the opportunity to walk with someone on that, I think is just such a beautiful, a beautiful thing. And, you know, we could all talk about more like the value of of parenting older kids and how much there is to do.
Definitely so a lot like in their stories. Yeah. So I know we’ve talked about Colombia, that’s where Brady is by the way, for anyone listening, the one story about him from me call please. He’s wonderful. Are there is that something that’s unique to Colombia? Where where else are there waiting child programs? How does that why does why would a country have that versus not have that program?
No, there’s there’s waiting children everywhere. I mean, really, all the programs where we work, it’s possible for us to be advocating for waiting children in Colombia. Their process is a bit more formal ised Bulgaria. Countries that have had adoption processes with the U.S. or other Hague countries for a longer period of time tends to have a bit more of an established routine with waiting children.
For example, if the list of if the if there has been, you know, two months and that child’s been on or six months or whatever, the time frame, every country is a little different. There’s no family on the registered family list. Then they move them immediately to the waiting child advocacy list so that we and agencies can advocate, because the sooner the better that that child is, you know, really getting to join a family.
But we see in in other countries, programs have maybe had international adoption for a shorter period of time. They’re starting to connect with us and other agencies on that process and say, oh, okay, well, so we have these five kids and we don’t have any families, so what should we do? And then we say we will come and meet them and we will get to know them and tell their story or if, if possible, can you?
We recently did a training for all of our partners in Ecuador, for all of the children’s homes in Ecuador, about how you don’t need to have, you know, fancy phone or anything like that to get footage, just how you interact with the child while that video is happening, even if it is, you know, an older technology, which is totally fine.
That’s how I used to do half of mine when I go. And honestly, I did most of mine on my personal phone and it was pretty, pretty old school, I think, because it’s it’s really about what you’re witnessing, right? So yeah. So sharing with the caregivers at all the children’s homes in Ecuador, they all came for this huge training.
It was incredible. And we got to share with them examples of how to engage with kids, to show their fine motor skills, to show their gross skills, to show aspects of their personality that not only let an adoptive family get to know them, which is important because, of course, you know, that’s that’s the heart of it. And so you feel connected to a child, but also for them to feel prepared.
So, for example, if there is a child who has, you know, maybe a diagnosis of developmental delay as family will want to know. Okay, well, what’s the extent of that? What does that look like? How are they? How are they with their numbers or writing or colors or where are they at? And so we kind of go into some of those very brief assessments that that our team that’s on the ground can do and that’s in any country and can kind of say like one a couple of weeks ago, I was just like, have draw an X and an O and see if the can copy it.
Right? Like simple means that maybe you’re like, how do I highlight this skill or, or this? And it helps the families because the families are like, we’re in, but we just want to know how to prepare, right? And actually identify resources and speech and occupational and all the types of therapies and then also just getting to know their heart.
So like, I mean, yes, favorite color and favorite food. But what do you want to be? You know, what do you do and what are your hopes and those types of things? And so helping any central authority or any caregivers in those countries engage their amazing and engaging with the kids. But just capturing that engagement is important for advocacy.
But back to kind of that question of does every country have it? Yes, every there will be kids who there are no families for. And so we as an agency really work hard to connect with our local leaders and local partners to say, okay, so they don’t have to just sit and wait, though. I mean, they are doing that’s definitionally they’re waiting.
But you can we can intervene here at this stage, too, by making calls by those emails that that people get on Wednesday waiting children’s days and Saturdays, and that you really get to meet these kids because getting to know them is how like I said, it’s kind of the heart of connection. That’s how these families are going to start coming forward.
So any it’s not necessarily a path that you choose. Families can join whichever program they feel most connected to. They continue their paperwork and at any point during the time after their home study is approved, we can really say, let’s start talking about waiting kids. And that child may that that family ends up kind of moving forward with may not be in the country they started in.
We often have families transfer from Bulgaria to Colombia or vice versa or any of our programs because they saw a leading child that they felt called towards. And that is a huge win for us. Do we support that fully? We actually do. Free waiting child transitions for like. Yes, please. Like go after the one. Go after this. You know, and so we have that.
I’m so glad you brought that up, because I think that that’s something that people can be like. Well, I’m you know, this is a this is the program that I’m in. And like this child is in is in Ecuador and I’m in Colombia or whatever it is. And that is something we so like encourage and support. If you feel called to to adopt this child or just even to learn more like always, just reach out, you know, and we like we want to have those conversations.
And something that I love is that we just we don’t it’s a big all of this is a big deal. Oh, yeah. And we’re not going to ever trivialize, like the real struggles and needs. And so we want to make sure that a family feels prepared for, you know, whatever that child is facing and that they have the support and the education.
And so I just think that if you’re listening and that’s something you’re worried about, I just want to encourage you to just just if your heart is tugging you in that direction, like just learn more. We want to have the conversation and we we will take all of your concerns seriously and give you all the information that we have.
And we do take that seriously. We have our whole team, you know, from inquiry, who definitely as usually the first line of calls. But then also if you’re already in process, we have our whole team of our case managers and our clinical staff and you will have kind of wraparound support every step of the way from that first time.
You even ask, you know, who is who is Brady? Can I learn more about that or who is Christian in Ecuador, another beautiful boy that I’m having later we advocate for, you know, who are these kids and how can we learn more about them? And then also we have for anybody who’s been through the process already or if you’re new to the process, we have a process of reviewing child information that is extensive and it includes a very detailed transition plan where you’ll work with a clinical staff member, so to speak, through all of the resources that you might you might need at any point with this specific child.
And it is it’s a challenging exercise, but it’s meant to be because, of course, parenting will be you know, parenting that specific child will be challenging and you’ll need all of those tools in the tool box. And so I agree with you, Melissa. It’s not just, you know, oh, yeah, you were only open 0 to 5 and now you want to adopt for kids up to age 12.
It doesn’t just go like that. It’s a process. And anybody who’s made that switch, we we’ve had families recently make that switch. And it’s been a beautiful thing to watch, first of all, to hear their testimony of how they feel, God calling them to this, but also to see the work that they’re putting in to be perfect and to be the best family that they can be for these four kids.
That story is a beautiful one, too. So things things families that are feeling that or feel called towards that. We will walk with you and we’ll prepare and we’ll work together so that it can be a successful I mean, ultimately, we want the best for that child and the best for the child is a prepared and ready family.
Absolutely. Absolutely. So we’ve talked a little bit about how we advocate for these kids. But can you just speak a little bit about like how the process is? Like, how do you find out like about these specific kids who maybe, you know, are going to need some more advocacy efforts and then kind of like how does that process look like from start to finish?
Like you hear their name and get their file. How does that all work? Sure. Well, one example is we were recently in Ecuador in March, and we got to meet some of these amazing kids and our team, we have team members that are on the ground in each country, you know, every day doing the work, getting to know or working with directly the central authority, the children’s homes directors, all of those people that are all on the same page about advocating for children.
Right. That is, we’re all in adoption. This is all the goal or we’re all in in the process of advocating for a reunification or permanency, the permanency goal, whether that whatever that may be. But, you know, we have we do regular trips to these countries to meet these kids. And we also do trainings to help those caregivers learn more about how to highlight the stories.
And so when we’re there, we’re able to meet children and we’re also able to speak with the caregivers, the directors, about how we have we have the families. We feel really confident about, the families we recruit and the families we prepare, and how open many of our families are to needs and to age range and sibling groups. Lots of openness to so many groups.
And so we share, you know, the various profiles, you know, redacted info about who these kids are that we have. And their eyes are like, what? You have a family open to a ten year old. Like we have had ten year olds like we’ve got them like what? Let’s collaborate. And so connection again, it’s all connection, like connecting with these partners and each country and sharing kind of who the families are, the way we the way we educate our families.
That’s huge. And so we we share that information. And then we’re able to establish more regular meetings or regular kind of email communication around who are the kids that you just are every week you’re having a adoption committee and you have your family dossiers and then there’s no family for Sarah, whoever that child is. Send us Sarah’s file.
Let us let us get to know her more. Send us a video of her interacting with her caregivers, with her speaking about her hopes and dreams. However old she is, whoever she is, let us get to know her. And let’s like let’s be focused on her. Let’s out what what type of family would be the best I know?
And our emails that we send out about these waiting kids, those ideal family notes, you know, if anybody on here has seen those emails, we’re not joking around. Like, we’re like, no, you need to be like this. We’ve met this guy, you know, and his sense of humor is off the off the chain. So you need to family ready to have a good time or whatever it is or she’s really shy and she loves to just read and have quiet time.
And so a family able to provide that type of environment or maybe a family that’s not already parenting so that this child can be, you know, the focus because given their needs, that’s important. Whatever those things are, we’re because we’ve gotten to know those kids, because our partners know those children, we’re able to really share their story better and in a way that helps families really understand, am I the best family for this?
You know, and that I think, you know, we’re all we always say, like we find families for kids, not the other way around. And we’re really looking for those families that can be the best resource. So that’s kind of how that process works. We get profiles of kiddos first and foremost. We always look to see internally do we already have a family who’s registered via the open and they’re open 0 to 6 with a list of needs, and we get a seven year old who has a need.
Why not call them and see, you know what your be open. Do you feel prepared again, not just a snap of a finger. Yeah. Open your age range. It’s a conversation and yeah. Clinical team education. But we always try first to see is there a family whose paperwork is ready because ultimately that child’s timeline will be shorter if that family’s paperwork is already done.
And then if it’s not, we look to our home study approved families who are still maybe in the midst of finishing their dossier, which is kind of that bigger packet of paperwork for the country. Yeah. And then lastly, we kind of go to that public email where, you know, maybe your family doesn’t have a home study yet, but it can really give you an idea of who these kids are that we’re advocating for and how you can be speaking about waiting children advocacy, waiting child advocacy and who the kids are in Bulgaria, in Philippines, in South Africa, wherever that child is.
Because you can get an idea of the scope of the needs, you know, whether it’s older kids or really difficult medical diagnoses or whatever it is. So, yeah, thank you for walking through that. I just think it’s important for people to have a sense of how that all works. So we’ve talked about Brady, who obviously has stolen all of our hearts.
Is there is there another like a kid that you’ve met or you’ve been involved in their adoption process of waiting child that their story has really stuck with you? Definitely. We these children are not yet placed with their family, but hopefully will be in the coming months. But we got to meet three brothers in Ecuador while we were there in March and they are eight or nine, seven and five.
So kind of that that age range and older ish. I mean, definitely older than a lot of, you know, families first come to us saying, oh, I think, you know, I might be open 0 to 5. And so we don’t always have as many families open above that five year old range. And so all of these kids were five and up, and they just struck me when we first walked in, they were kind of scattered throughout the room that we met a bunch of kids.
And you could immediately tell, though, that those three were brothers because of the way they interacted with you. There were a lot of kids in the room, but you could just tell the way that they interacted with one another, the way that they helped one another, especially the little one. How protective in a healthy, healthy way. Health protection.
Yeah, the little one. They were and they were all so different. I got to sit with each of them and then sit with them all together. And it was really just precious because the oldest one, he I won’t use their names because I actually match, some of which is really exciting, but to protect their little names but very, very thrilled that they were matched with a family.
And they will be hopefully, like I said, home in the coming months as paperwork is completed. But they the oldest child, the oldest boy, it’s three brothers. I said the oldest boy. He was very he loved building things, very creative. He had he was building with these like kind of really intricate blocks. But I was like, I don’t even know where this one goes.
Like, help me. Yes. I wasn’t just playing. It was showing me. And he was building these towers and all these things. And then he kind of looked over at his brother, the middle child, who is much more quiet, reserved kind of puzzles, likes to read like really different personality. Like not kind of out there. And he said to me, like, you should go and learn about my brother.
He’s he’s really smart. Like, he’s he’s the smartest one of us. And and I kind of said, you know, you’re smart to like, look at all the things you’re doing to encourage him. But I just thought it was so sweet that he was like, you know, I’m the loud one and I’m catching the attention. But this is my sweet brother who I adore, and their relationship was just precious.
And then the youngest one was just running around. It was 30. And then when you finally got the three of them together, you could just see how the youngest one would look to the brothers and look to them for and and their only need. Guys like these, these kids are brilliant and they don’t have any identified medical needs.
They are healthy, but they have had tough starts. They’ve experienced that trauma, they’ve experienced that neglect. And so, I mean, there’s a reason they’re in care. And you can see that play out a little bit in some of their behaviors. And so families need to be ready for that. But their main need is that they are older and they want to stay together desperately.
They want to be together and and thank God the right family came forward. And and they’re going to be able to be a family and they’re going to stay and those three will get to stay together. And that is the number one thing. If you’re ever speaking with waiting children, specifically the sibling groups, that will tell you that I don’t want to lose my brother or I don’t want to lose my sister.
And so for us to be able to intervene as early as possible, as soon as we know about a sibling group, so try to find a family that can be open to that. We just, you know, that’s kind of where we can intervene and that’s a huge win when we can do that. So their that story, they blew me away.
I mean, I was like, we’re flying back on the plane. And I just kept crying every okay, I’m just thinking about the boy. It’s like I just adore them and I’m so happy for them because as soon as we got home, immediately kids had videos and photos and we could tell their story and tell that story. So the family is going to be watching them.
And it’s like, this is how we advocate, this is how we get to speak into it. And that’s privilege. To be able to tell these kids stories is a privilege. Oh, sorry, I, I just thank you for sharing that. There’s just something about, I mean, for me, like, whenever you get to meet or here learn the stories of siblings and that that is so true.
That is like because, you know, in the files that we get and you know, and depending on so many factors, sometimes there’s a lot of information, sometimes there’s not as much. But if if they have like statements from the kids, that is what they say. Like when they’re siblings, like, I just want a family and I want to be with my sister or my brothers or whatever that is.
And, you know, something that I mean and I love that that is always like a top priority for us is like, how can we keep these kids together? Because unfortunately, a lot of times they, you know, can get separated if they’re having if if they’re having a hard time finding families and all of that. And I just think, like, what a gift for the children and their family that like they get to have that first like connection that they’ve always had, that shared culture, that shared language, and then go into a family that’s prepared to parent them.
Oh, yeah. I just I the siblings always get me. That’s wonderful. And we, we feel really blessed because Scott has brought a lot of families that are open to siblings to the agency. But, you know, there’s there’s there’s so many waiting kids and there’s so many sibling groups and I think the the hard part, like you mentioned, is that oftentimes they will think about the legal defender assigned to work with that case, will think about the potential separation.
And if a family doesn’t come forward and oftentimes that means kind of separating out the oldest kiddo from that group, because that is often why families don’t move forward with a waiting child sibling group because maybe one is over ten or over 12. Yeah. And you know, we like to I mean, you should see I mean, you’ve seen.
We’ve seen. But families are now like you should see the way that some of these older kiddos interact with these younger kiddos. Trust me, it’s going to be a help that those younger kiddos trust that older sibling in a huge way for the most part. I mean, every situation is different if they didn’t grow together, but in situations where they are very well attached and there’s a healthy attachment between, the siblings, it may be actually a challenge to do parented by or kind of take away that parents of that older child, which is a whole nother topic and our clinical team will work with you on that if you have a heart for a sibling,
your older child. But it’s likely that that older sibling has been a large part of that care model for those kids for a long time. So, yeah, we just we keep praying that more families that are open to siblings and older kids come forward for the many waiting kids that we’ve all gotten to meet, especially, I mean, 20, 22, we were finally kind of back on the ground in some ways because of COVID, and we were just grateful to be able to travel again.
And just 21 and early 22. And it just you know, of course, we we know that the need is there, but it reinforced the need, the huge need for families that are open to to kids that are older and are part of sibling groups and kids who have identified needs. I mean, truly, I’m always blown away when families come forward and have their list of special needs they’re open to.
And they just really I feel like couple like being open and listening to God’s call to them for those pieces and also really realistic meeting with doctors and really figuring out what they feel prepared for. And when you marry those two things like your what you feel called to and then what you really feel realistically prepared for, you have this beautiful list of things that you can be open to and you can be a resource for a child.
Yeah. Yeah. And there is I mean, and I just think like this can be a difficult topic in some ways because it just your heart aches for what these kids have gone through and that they’re, you know, they’re like you said, like they’re legally freed for adoption, but they haven’t we haven’t been able to find the right family for whatever reason.
But there is also just like so much hope. And so I mean, that we’re I feel like we’re seeing it’s like the openness of families, but also still having that, you know, that’s just the reality. You do need to you do need to have the education and be prepared and like know what realistically this is going to look like.
It’s not just blindly going into it, but we are just seeing miracles and hearts changed. And people like once they learn about a specific child and feel connected to their personality, you know, maybe reconsidering or like reexamining, okay, like, could we do this? Could this work? And it’s just so beautiful to see that happen. I know you have a front row seat to that same feel.
I feel very blessed to have a front row seat to that for sure. It’s it’s a little miracles every single day of families doing that same process and taking the time to really be ready, which is amazing. Yeah. Because as we know, like, love is so important and it absolutely carries you through some of the hardest of times.
But having the resources and education is as well what will get you get you to kind of that that place as a family where you can all have that safety and a trust. And that takes time and families that are committed to taking that journey with the child. It’s very humbling to meet families every day that that are ready for that.
Yeah, yeah. It’s beautiful. And you absolutely need you need both, right. So it’s so cool to see, see people taking that on with open arms. So for anyone listening to this, I mean, obviously if you feel called to adopt, please reach out to us. Apply, start the process. We’d love to talk to you for other folks who maybe that’s not part of their journey, how can they help?
I think spreading the word about about adoption in general. So, you know, anything that you’ve learned on the podcast or things that you if you have questions, you want to talk to us about how to be a voice for adoption, more and more voices and our welcome and as many as possible because there is no shortage of need in any of the countries we work in and in countries we haven’t even begun to work in.
And in our here, right in the United States, we have our whole U.S., U.S. advocacy team working closely with child welfare systems across the country to really see that there is there are needs of kids here, here at home, too. And I think just being a voice for that and speaking that into whether that’s, you know, a community that you’re a part of or your church or wherever you feel called to share, even within our own families of origin or our families that we are connected to or have built in our communities, it’s important to speak up as far as when child advocacy goes.
You know, definitely. I know I’ve shared at church about we think it’s like, have you seen this video from the children? We learned a little bit about this. I know that, you know, like, please, do you want to learn more? I should just wear a t shirt, like ask me about my job because I love my job. And we always say, like, you people will say to me that they’re like, That’s your job.
And I’m like, Yes, I’m very blessed. But we like to kind of speak about these kids and share their stories. So if you watch a video and you feel moved by a child’s story and you want to share that with your community, those are always, you know, on our password protected page. And so while we want to keep those children protected as much as we can, meaning we don’t want to repost and put them on social media because, you know, we always assign an advocacy name.
Brady is at his advocacy name, but he has his given name but Wayne but a way to kind of share would be just personally like, Oh, you’re out at dinner with some friends and some of them have been considering adoption. You might want to say, Have you heard of GCI or any adoption? Mean truly, like we’re all about any child, any place but we with a group of of your friends.
Do you want to share about adoption or share about our waiting child advocacy? They can reach out. They can get, you know, our password to the waiting child page again to kind of help protect these kids. But if they’re engaging with our inquiry team and showing interest in the adoption process, then we’re happy to walk through that with them.
And then really just, you know, if you do feel if you are in post adoption, if you’ve already adopted but you and maybe you are home and settled but not quite ready to grow again through another adoption. Or maybe your family is complete, but you still want to be an advocate being a voice for the adoption process, how it went, what to expect, maybe guiding towards an agency that you feel is great.
And if you’re listening, if you think that you guys can’t, we do we want to be able to walk with families through that process. And so if you can speak about it and refer them and then especially for waiting kids like, oh, well, if you’re thinking about adoption, there’s plenty there’s no shortage of need. And I mean, and so just kind of sharing about that, those pieces can help.
We even have families who say that that support and partner with us financially and advocating for waiting children. So they say, you know, we our family is complete, but we feel really strongly about advocating for waiting children. And so any family that comes forward that wants to adopt this specific child or any child over the age of seven or whatever it is, we would like to offer a grant.
And so we have grant opportunities that will always be noted in our emails and our communication. And actually we are doing we’ve had a number of really generous donors who wanted to partner with us financially in that way to advocate for waiting kids recently. And so during the month of July, we are going to be kind of having a special grant for families that enter the programs that are open to children seven and up, just because we really believe in advocating for those older families in the school age kids.
So things like that, we’re always welcome and pray, pray for these kids. If you see can pray for them by their advocacy name we call them that internally to and and mix up their name we call them like we’ll give their their name and then we use our advocacy name like as a middle to refer. But we choose those advocacy names very lovingly because we’ve gotten to know these kids.
So for example, one of the children that we’re advocating for, I think it went out yesterday, is a 12 year old boy and his favorite. He loves soccer. And so we picked like a soccer a name of a soccer star that he enjoys. So we really do try to keep it connected to that child. And as soon as you inquire about those kids, we are able to share their their given names, but we just try to protect them.
But yeah, all to say, definitely keep those kids and praying for them and mine because all along the timeline, I always say that families are waiting to have a child in their family, but these kids are waiting, too. And they’re waiting for you. So call us. Yeah. No, no, no. That’s a marketing. But really, thank you for sharing on Sam.
And I just want to also just emphasize the grants. And there are so many like helping so many options, I mean, through HCI, but lots of other organizations as well that like want to help families who feel called to adopt if finances, you know, are something that you’re concerned about. Like there are so many resources and kind of different ways to go about that.
So please don’t want that being a deterrent. Talk to us about that. We have a lot of good resources. Yeah, yeah. We’re we’re definitely we never, ever want finances to be a barrier. So we’re happy to help you work it out. And we have lots of friends that all of those grant agencies who are amazing and want to partner with you and with us to help you guys in your adoption journey.
So yeah, yeah, yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Sam, for sharing your wisdom and your heart. I just every time I talk to you, I’m just like, we’re on, like, a video call right now, guys, and I just, like, I can feel it come through the computer screen. Like, how deeply, deeply you care about these kids and about finding families that are that are going to be the right fit and prepared to to care for them.
So thank you for sharing. Thank you so much for highlighting, reading kiddos and for taking the time to talk about them and share with all of our listeners just, just how important and special each of them are. Every time we get to celebrate kind of a match, it’s just each one of them. I was saying earlier today, each story is a miracle and it’s so amazing to be able to share about that. Thank you for having me.
That was Sam Moore, AGCI director of Adoption Latin America and the Caribbean. Thanks for listening to Together by AGCI as always. If you liked what you heard, please rate or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’d like to read or watch even more stories, check out our website, allgodschildren.org.
Reach out to us and let us know what you think on Instagram at all God’s Children International or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to sharing another story of hope the next time we’re together. We’ll talk to you soon.