From WACAP’s grassroots beginnings as a local support group for parents who had adopted internationally, we've seen tremendous expansion in the scope of our services and the number of children we're privileged to help. In our early years, we placed children from just two countries: the United States and Korea. Later we developed adoption and/or child assistance programs in Thailand, India, Colombia, Ecuador, Hong Kong and the Philippines. In the 1990s, WACAP pioneered the first U.S. adoptions from China, Far East Russia and Romania. Since 2000, WACAP has launched additional programs in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Taiwan and Vietnam.
WACAP owes much of its success to three of its early leaders, each of whom has devoted more than 27 years to the organization. Janice Neilson, who joined us as a volunteer in 1976, became director of communication in 1981, and was promoted to executive director in 1983. She served in that capacity for 20 years, and as president for one year, before stepping down. Neilson launched WACAP's Peony Project in China, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to provide rehabilitation and educational services for children with disabilities. She also served as an advisor to governments and organizations on behalf of children's issues. Barbara Knowles, assistant executive director for programs, retired at the end of 2003 after 27 years of service. Lillian Thogersen, chief executive officer, joined WACAP in 1976 and continues to provide distinguished leadership to the organization today.
Since 1976, WACAP has placed more than 10,000 children in loving adoptive families across the United States, and provided humanitarian aid to over 200,000 children worldwide. For more information on how you can help WACAP in its mission to help children in need of families, please contact us.