What a Trip!

How time flies! We trust you’ve been as busy as we have – now that the holiday season is upon us! In this e-blast, we bring you coverage of past, present and future Holt trips, including highlights from the Haiti Vision Trip and the Philippines Ambassadors Trip, an update from this year’s Korea Gift Team, and information about the upcoming China Vision Trip in April 2013. Enjoy! And Merry Christmas!

Korea Gift Team at Holt Ilsan Center

Korea Gift Team

This year’s Korea Gift Team is currently taking place! Every December, a team of Holt volunteers travels to Korea to visit various Holt-supported programs, including the Jeonju Babies Home, a birth mothers’ shelter, and the Holt Ilsan Center – a rehabilitative care center for children and adults with disabilities. At each place, the team hosts a Christmas party for the women, children or residents receiving services. Sara Tubbs wrote, “Going to Jeonju today to take gifts to the kids at Jeonju baby home. Can’t wait to see them open their gifts!”

Diane enjoys holding a child at Peace House in China

China Vision Trip – Sign Up Now!

In April, Holt will lead a second vision trip, this time to China! This is your chance to learn more about Holt’s work overseas and to meet children and families we help to serve.*

Vision trips are different from traditional “mission trips.” While they may be a small component of the experience, service projects are not the focus. Rather, the vision trip is designed to give Holt supporters a greater understanding of Holt’s mission in country, and to inspire them to promote Holt’s mission – to “be the vision” – once home.

On the China Vision trip, participants will:

  • Visit Holt’s Peace House, a serene group home that cares for children with special needs while they wait for or recover from much-needed surgeries.
  • Spend time with children and babies in Holt-supported care centers.
  • Visit one of Holt’s group homes.
  • Visit with families in our family-strengthening program. Holt’s family-strengthening programs in China help children from impoverished families – many of them directly or indirectly impacted by HIV/AIDS – to stay in school and in the care of their birth families.
  • Meet Holt’s loving foster families and interact with the children in their care.
  • Experience the beautiful country of China. Sightsee in different provinces, and tour the Great Wall of China!

For more info or to sign up for this once in a lifetime opportunity, click here now.

* While participants will meet children in Holt programs, we cannot guarantee that sponsors will be able to meet their sponsored child.

2012 Philippines Ambassadors Trip

Philippines Ambassadors Trip

Early in 2011, Holt introduced a pilot adoption program for older children in the Philippines. Six ambassadors, all volunteers, joined Holt staff on a trip to the Philippines to meet a group of older children – all hoping to find loving adoptive families. After getting to know the children, the ambassadors returned to the United States and began advocating for their adoptions.  Six older children in this program now have families! This year, Holt sponsored another Philippines Ambassadors trip for a new group of children. The ambassador recently returned from their week-long trip to Manila.  Click here to read a blog entry from one of the participants about “JP,” one of the boys in the group.  Though quiet and shy at first, JP eventually opened up – revealing a warm smile and engaging personality. JP is currently waiting to be adopted. For more information about JP and other children in the Philippines Ambassadors program, please contact Erin Anderson at

Mariko plays with children from Holt Fontana Village during the Haiti Vision Trip

Haiti Vision Trip – Moments to Remember

This past September, a group of 10 enthusiastic Holt supporters traveled to Haiti on Holt’s inaugural vision trip. Holt designed the trip to give participants a first-hand look at Holt’s services for children and families. While in Haiti, they met and interacted with the children at Holt Fontana Village; visited families in Holt’s family strengthening program; took part in a service project; and got to know Holt’s Haiti program staff. The vision trip included donors, sponsors, and adoptive parents, including Sharon Boyd, who wrote, “As an adoptive parent (Ethiopia), it helped me better understand what services Holt must have provided to my daughter’s birth family, and does provide for other families in their preservation programs. I never realized how much Holt focused on preservation programs and not just on adoption.” Visit Holt’s blog to see photos and read stories from the trip.

The Big Picture, and A Grand Little Drawing; Help Kevin Find a Family

The Casey family has adopted seven children, including three girls and four boys, all from India. Five of their children have special needs and were adopted as “waiting children” through Holt. Through the years, the Caseys have encountered many different challenges as adoptive parents, including issues associated with older child and special needs adoption. They have also experienced the wonder and joy, seven times over, of bringing a new child into their home.

by Anne Casey


Can you help Kevin find a family?

We have learned a lot through parenting. Our kids have taught us numerous and valuable life lessons about ourselves individually, as a couple, and as a family. We are very thankful that He has created each one of us and our family through adoption!  During the times when we feel inadequate and overwhelmed, tired beyond belief, when the answers to questions do not come, God is always there and fills within us what is lacking – both as parents and for our whole family.

We do recognize that it has been God’s grace every step of the way along our adoption journey, because it most certainly could not be just us. We thank God every day for the children He has blessed us with, ever mindful of the awesome responsibility that has been entrusted to us.  We also recognize the honor and privilege it is to be adoptive parents.

We are so grateful to all the families that have talked to us through the years and all the time they have shared their real life, personal experiences.  Now we are happy to pass along our personal experiences!  We hope we can be a source of strength and encouragement to prospective adoptive parents.

And, yes, amidst the joys of parenting, there are many challenges, difficulties and struggles. And when the really hard days heap upon us, we pray, step back and take a look at the “big picture” – trusting in God, trusting in the adoption process, believing in our kids and ourselves as their parents.  It is at that moment that we are truly humbled by the great blessing our family is to us, our kids and to so many others.

Anne shares a little about Kevin, an 8-year-old boy who needs a family:

Kevin is a bright, playful and handsome boy from Southeast Asia who has been waiting a long time for his forever family.  Upon looking at the photo of Kevin, I quickly see his beautiful smile and endearing eyes and immediately click on additional photos to see more.  Wow!  What a wonderful surprise to find a beautiful drawing handcrafted by Kevin!  I look at this and wonder what Kevin would say to his forever mommy and daddy about this grand drawing. And how about all the wonderful words of encouragement they would share with him in support of his talent and interest in drawing!  Also, how spectacular it would be for Kevin to see his drawing stuck to the front of the refrigerator, or hung on the living room wall – or how about in his new mommy or daddy’s office?

Kevin's drawing

I again think of all the potential Kevin has and so many thoughts and emotions go through my mind and heart as I wonder about the prospective family that will surely be blessed by this budding artist!  I also think that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I am left a bit speechless as I click through the other precious photos of Kevin.  My mind and heart is a flurry of emotion as I can only imagine wonderful things to come for Kevin!   He has so much to share, and so much to give to others as is already displayed in this one drawing.

I am a mom to kids adopted at older ages. I have also experienced both post-institutional and post-foster care issues. Based on my experience, I think Kevin really needs a family that can support him through any issues he may have related to older child adoption or his birth history. I also think Kevin would benefit from a family that understands transition issues related to long-term foster care.  Kevin is waiting to be a son! Please do not delay, and email Erin for more information about this handsome and talented boy!

Our family prayer for Kevin:  God bless Kevin as he waits for his forever family.  We pray that Kevin will not wait much longer and that his forever family will call Holt International very soon.  Also, we pray the words of Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad!” as we look forward to the day when Kevin is finally home drawing, waving, smiling, laughing and playing with his forever family!

 For more information about Kevin, email Erin Mower at


A flower waiting to bloom: Allie needs a family

The Casey family has adopted seven children, including three girls and four boys, all from India. Five of their children have special needs, and were adopted as “waiting children” through Holt. Through the years, the Caseys have encountered many different challenges as adoptive parents, including issues associated with older child and special needs adoption. They have also experienced the wonder and joy, seven times over, of bringing a new child into their home.

by Anne Casey

I think it is really important for folks to know that there is so much more to each one of these children than what is written on paper, in their profiles.  With a waiting child, there are so many hidden assets tucked inside, just ready to flourish!  These kids need families to make this happen and need parents willing to make the commitment.  The opportunity for the child to reach his fullest potential is just waiting to be tapped into.

Our prayer has always been that we – and others – will see and embrace the children who wait, opening our minds and hearts to the possibility and potential of parenting a child with special needs.  There are so many wonderful resources these days, and tremendous ways of acquiring information to gain a better understanding of each special need. It is so important for prospective parents to read and talk to as many people as possible when considering adoption.

We hope that others will see and feel the joy that resonates from the children who wait, and investigate further!  We have faith, knowing that once a prospective parent initiates the adoption process, the journey begins and there is no going back!

Anne shares a little about Allie, a 10-year-old girl who needs a family:

“A” is for “Allie“, a 10-year-old girl with a gentle smile and twinkle in her eye.  The photo of Allie greets me with playfulness, a sense of cheerfulness, ready to blossom and bloom.  As a mom, I think of my 10-year-old daughter, and I notice the brightly colored shirt Allie is wearing in the photo.  I guess I can’t help but hope that it may be a bit of foreshadowing for what’s to come for Allie when she joins her forever family; those brightly colored flowers strewn across her shirt really create a visual image in my mind of a beautiful garden, and Allie is one of the flowers waiting to bloom!  So much potential tucked inside waiting to grow and flourish! All of these visual cues make me want to shout out for Allie, letting the world know she is waiting for her forever family!

Yes, Allie from Africa seems amazing to me!  All the words her social workers use to describe her – words like “pleasant,” “helpful,” “beautiful,” “harmonious” and “respectful” – seem to be so reflective of her emerging personality! And with all of this reflection and talk of Allie, I think of my own children and how blessed I am to be their mother and how blessed any family would be by Allie!

And so as I pray for Allie and her future forever family, I reflect on the words of blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. So let us begin.”  Take time today to stop and call Erin about Allie, the beautiful young girl waiting to bloom!

Our family prayer for Allie:  That her forever family will come forth today and allow new beginnings for themselves and Allie.  That they will believe in, hope in, and trust in God, themselves, Allie, Holt International, and the adoption process.  Also, that the seed and spirit of unconditional love and forgiveness will be planted early so that this family may truly see that, “All of the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.”

Attend a Holt picnic near you!

Holt International picnics provide adoptees of all ages, adoptive family members, relatives and friends – an opportunity to meet others in the local area who share a connection to international adoption. “There are no strangers at a Holt picnic – at Holt, everyone is family,” says picnic organizer, Sally Dougherty.

Each picnic has its own unique activities – including a Korean BBQ lunch in Omaha, Southern California, and Eugene OR on August 4th. At other picnics kids, enjoy breaking open piñatas and crafts.

Crafts at picnic in Omaha

Last weekend, 280 people attended the Holt picnic in Omaha, 230 attended the Holt Picnic in Southern California, 100 attended the Holt picnic in Kansas City, and just under 100 attended Holt’s first picnic in Denver (presented with Korean Adult Adoptees of the Rockies, or KAAR).

Cindy Seal, of KAAR, said of the picnic in Denver, “It was an amazing day with great attendance! I think we had 3 year olds to 70+ years attending. It was fun to meet everyone and share stories.”

The picnic in New Jersey is coming up on June 23r, followed by picnics in Houston, Portland, Eugene, Iowa, and Georgia. Regardless of agency affiliation, Holt’s picnics are open to all in the adoption community! Click here for more info and RSVP online.

Join Us in Haiti!

Holt is excited to introduce “Holt International Vision Trips!”
– trips designed especially for YOU!

Holt recognizes the growing interest among our supporters to see first-hand the work we do overseas.  We created Holt vision trips for individuals who have a passion for Holt’s mission and want to learn – and see! – more.  Whether you’re a Holt child sponsor, an adoptive parent or adoptee, a Holt donor, or just someone who wishes to see Holt projects up close and personal – these trips are for you!

On this once-in-a-lifetime, 5-day trip,
you will:

  • Meet and interact with the precious children at Holt Fontana Village, our care center in Haiti.
  • Visit the schools we support through our family preservation program, and take part in a special service project there.
  • Meet a family enrolled in our family preservation program.
  • Learn how our work has changed and evolved in light of the devastating earthquake in 2010.
  • Visit a museum and take part in additional sightseeing activities.
  • And come home with a greater understanding of Holt’s mission and vision.

Last July, Tiffany Marshall, an elementary school teacher in Portland, Oregon, spent a month volunteering at Holt Fontana Village.  After her time in Haiti, she came home with a new perspective, and a lifetime of love in her heart for the children she met.

“I’m sure this will come as no surprise to many of you, but I’ve fallen in love,” Tiffany wrote on her travel blog.  “Not only that, I’ve fallen in love with more than one person. Of course they’re all under 4 feet tall, but that’s not a problem for me.  Seriously, these children have a way of wrapping themselves around your heart.”

You’ve read the stories.  You’ve seen the photos.  You weep and pray for the children in our care, and you rejoice with us when they travel home to families of their own.

Now, this is your chance to meet the children.  To embrace them.  To see their smiles with your own eyes, and not just through a photo.  To witness first-hand what you’ve helped accomplish through your generous gifts, and to experience Haiti and embrace Holt’s mission like never before!

Click here to learn more about our vision trip to Haiti, and sign up today!

Meet the Caseys. They need your help finding a family for Carter.

The Casey family has adopted seven children, including three girls and four boys, all from India. Five of their children have special needs, and were adopted as “waiting children” through Holt. Through the years, the Caseys have encountered many different challenges as adoptive parents, including issues associated with older child and special needs adoption. They have also experienced the wonder and joy, seven times over, of bringing a new child into their home.

by Anne Casey

The Casey family

All of our children were considered special needs with many unknowns.  We prayed and discerned about each one, and each adoption was a step in faith. Throughout each process of contemplating another adoption, we have always tried to look at the “big picture” – including the needs of our prospective child as well as the needs of the children already in our home.

It seemed that each time we adopted, we were able to stretch a bit further what “special needs” we felt comfortable to care for.  It has always seemed that with each of our adoptions, our hearts were leading and our heads were in tow. And I think, deep down, we always knew that somehow, the child had already made his forever imprint upon our hearts!

But we gave each adoption their due process and allowed God to work through us, striving to attain the balance between head and heart. We also trusted the folks in Holt’s waiting child program to make decisions in the best interest of each child!


Carter is waiting for a family

Holt adoptive mom Anne Casey shares a little about Carter, 6, from China. Carter is still waiting for a family:

Carter sounds much like my children, all of whom enjoy playing outdoors.  He appears to mirror my sons as they too enjoy their time in the sand and dirt.  His hearing impairment does not seem to slow him down. My daughter is also hearing impaired, and she loves to run and play just like Carter! Clearly, his personality and preferences shine through. His active and outgoing personality seems to be a common thread throughout his descriptions.

I would imagine for Carter, like my on-the-go boys, that it may be challenging at times for him to sit, wait or slow down, as sometimes active boys like mine often find it difficult to regulate when they are having so much fun!  But, unlike my sons, who also waited on Holt’s photolisting, Carter still waits.  As a mother, I have and always will hold a special place in my heart for the boys waiting to be sons.  I would encourage prospective adoptive parents to call Erin sooner rather than later…please don’t delay or make Carter wait another day without you!

Our family prayer for Carter:  God bless all boys, most especially those that continue to wait to be adopted.  Most especially bless little Carter from China, that he will feel safe and protected as he moves about with all his fun and games.  May he feel the love and warmth of all that care for him until he is safely home in his mommy and daddy’s arms forever.

For more information on adopting Carter, contact Erin Mower at To view Holt’s photolisting of waiting children, click here.

Winter Jam volunteers still needed. Sign up! It's fun!

So far on this year’s Winter Jam tour, we’ve had great success in recruiting sponsors for children in Holt’s care around the world. But we need to end strong! Less than a dozen stops remain on the 2012 tour schedule, and we have yet to reach our goal of 100 volunteers for each of the upcoming shows in Texas, Indiana and Champaign, Illionis. Volunteers are the key to helping new sponsors get signed up to sponsor a child.

If you live in one of these areas, please sign up today to volunteer. Or if you know anyone who might like to help out, please pass the message along!

The Brown Family volunteered at the WJ show in TN, and got to go up on stage!

Recently, Nick and Mary Leigh Brown, adoptive parents of two boys from Korea, volunteered at the Winter Jam shows in Nashville and Chattanooga, TN. In addition to receiving free entry and a free CD (which all volunteers receive), they got to go on stage with Eddie Carswell, founding member of NewSong!

The Brown Family volunteered at the Winter Jam show in TN, and got to up on stage!

When asked why they decided to volunteer, this is what Mary Leigh said:

For Nick and I, it was really a no brainer to volunteer with Holt’s Winter Jam when it came to Chattanooga – even if it meant an hour drive one way. We absolutely love Holt and love the mission that Harry and Bertha started so many years ago. We are honored to help Holt in such a small way as volunteering at Winter Jam. Holt made us a family. It’s the very least we can do to give back (not to mention get to hear an incredible concert!).

It was at the Chattanooga concert that I looked over the sea of faces spread out on the Holt table  – all of children waiting to be sponsored – and it hit me: my boys were once faces in this sea too. After the concert, it dawned on me to inquire if our boys had been sponsored. And indeed, we found out that our older son, Bates, had been sponsored while he was waiting for us to find him and bring him home. My son, my Bates, was once a face on a packet on that table. He was picked up by someone – someone who said they would pray for him and sponsor him until he was adopted. This wasn’t just any child – this was my child!

Someone stood in the gap for him until he was safely in our arms, and that was made possible because someone volunteered at Winter Jam!

When the concert came closer to home in Nashville, we of course jumped at the chance to volunteer again. It’s a small way we can make a difference in the lives of these children, just as someone did several years ago for our son!

The Brown Family volunteered to help new child sponsors get signed up in TN.

If you are on the fence about volunteering – or think, “Someone else will do it, I don’t need to” – please, I’m begging you… sign up, volunteer. I’m pleading with you as a mom whose son was sponsored and received top notch care, including a much-needed heart surgery. Please go make a difference in a child’s life. You may never know whose child you may be helping!

Thanks, Mary Leigh and Nick!

Click here now to sign up to volunteer at one of these remaining shows for the year.

Friday, March 23rd, 4:30PM – Houston, TX – Toyota Center
Saturday, March 24th, 3:30PM – San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
Sunday, March 25th, 3:30 PM – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
Thursday, March 29th, 3:30PM – Yipsilanti, MI – EMU Convocation Center
Friday, March 30th, 4:30PM – Indianapolis, IN – Banker’s Life Fieldhouse
Saturday, March 31st, 3:30PM – Champaign, IL – Assembly Hall
Sunday, April 1st, 3:30PM – Grand Rapids, MI – Van Andel Arena

Volunteers needed for Holt auction in Omaha

The 2012 Holt International Omaha Gala Dinner and Auction will take place on Saturday, April 21 at Embassy Suites Omaha – La Vista. Silent auction and social hour begin at 5:30 PM followed by dinner, live auction and program. Dr. David Kim will be the special speaker. The event will benefit Holt programs in Thailand. Tickets are $50 and reservations can be made online at

Available at the auction in Omaha

Among many fabulous items that will be auctioned at the event are a panda quilt, several Nebraska Huskers items and a signed Heisman football!

We are still in need of auction items and volunteers for the night of the event. For more information, please contact

Omaha auction 2011

For Leann; An Appeal From The Burns Family

Leann waits for a family

“Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” — Jude 1:2

My wife and I adopted our first daughter from Nanning, China at 14 months.

We were told she was a healthy baby, and by all appearances, she was. Then she developed some serious lung issues and was diagnosed with primary ciliary dyskinesia syndrome, a disease similar to — but not as serious as — cystic fibrosis. My wife and I spent many nights at the children’s hospital with Faith. She was so very tiny and seemed so helpless. (I say “seemed helpless” because you should see her now). She is a healthy, happy and well-adjusted young lady and the apple of my eye.

This experience changed both my wife and I. Were she still in the orphanage, Faith’s condition would most likely have been fatal. As much as the caregivers there do the best they can, the truth is — their resources are limited. My, how the Lord works in wonderful and mysterious ways.

While we were in China, we saw so clearly the needs of these beautiful children. No home. No one to love them. We could do that. And we have, four more times. The Lord has a special calling for us, and maybe for you too.

Often, people ask us about older children adoptions; we have done four of them. My response is always that it is challenging and takes patience. These children have lived without a family, many of them in institutions, much longer than babies. Often, it takes longer for them to adapt to living in a family, and in a new culture. But we also experienced great satisfaction in watching our kids change from being fearful and apprehensive to trusting and confident.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” I thought going into this. All that has changed now. “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” now seems a more applicable verse. What a blessing my children are to me. I cannot imagine life without them.

In orphanages overseas, children with special needs don’t always receive the medical care they need. In the U.S., we have the resources available to us to heal these children. In adoptive families, these youngsters can also find the love, nurture and encouragement they need to thrive.

I would urge you to do what I did before each adoption — pray to God and ask Him what you should do, He will show you the way, and ask if He has called you to do something extraordinary with your life. You won’t regret it. Maybe it’s not in your heart, but you know someone who might listen to Leann’s story and reach out to her. Please pass it on. A blessing like Leann should not be missed.

Click here to read — and share on FB — a recent blog about Leann. For more information about adopting Leann, contact Erin Mower at

In His warmest Aloha,

Brad, Liza, Justin, Dane, Connor, Jewel, Hope, Faith, Joy and Grace

The Burns Family

Much to Celebrate! More work ahead!

Thank you for the important role you played in the lives of children in Holt’s care last year. Your dedication to promoting Holt’s mission helped to make the following accomplishments possible for children. I hope the following highlights from the past year will warm your heart and encourage you to look forward to the ways you can help more children find permanent, loving families this year:

The Shaffer-Marks family welcomed Shelby, from China, into the family in 2011.

  • 561 children joined their adoptive families through Holt
  • 311 of those children had special needs
  • Close to 2,800 children in Holt’s child sponsorship program – whose families were at risk of separation were able to be stabilized and no longer need assistance to thrive
  • Five of the 10 children from the Philippines Ambassadors trip have been matched with families, two are home with their adoptive families
  • 19,000 people signed up to sponsor a child in Holt’s care – most signed up at a Winter Jam concert
  • Family preservation services were able to be expanded in the Philippines, India, and China
  • The Holt Ambassadors Network grew to just over 350 members!

We truly appreciate all that you do as Holt Ambassadors, and look forward to another year of working together to serve children and families.