To sum up 2014 at Holt International in one word — family.
It makes sense. That’s what we are all about at Holt International — the firm belief that every child deserves to grow up with the love, support and security of a family. This is a belief that brings people — and families — together. Families enduring tremendous hardships, but working hard to stay together. Children waiting to reunite with their families, or join a loving family through adoption. Foster families who care for the children who wait. Adoptive families brought together through love. And adoptees, who know the love of two families — one by birth, and one by adoption.
We shared hundreds of stories about family with you this year, and we are always amazed by how diverse a picture the word ‘family’ paints. To preview 2015, we recap a few of the most-read stories about family from 2014 — based on what was the most popular with you, our readers.
Our most read stories — far and away — were about waiting children, many of whom now have families thanks to your advocacy. A few of these beautiful children are Drew and Breanna, Jaylenn, Schyler, Seamus, Julia, Jack, Jonah, Olivia, Dory, Felix and Andy — children whose stories were read by thousands of people around the country.
However, many other stories captured the hearts and minds of our readers this year as well. In order of the highest read, we give you our top 10 stories of 2014!
1. Written in house by one of our very own donor relations reps, Holt adoptee Courtney Young discusses the complexities of adoption, the bond of family and the meaning of fairytales.
2. Kanya Sesser, a 21-year-old Holt adoptee from Thailand, skateboards, skis, races, models and surfs. She’s also a college student studying fashion marketing, and she hopes to join the Billabong surf team soon. Born without legs, Kanya has become an inspiration to friends and fans around the world with her motto, “No legs, no limits.”
3. Holt adoptive mom Andrea tells her story of bringing home her daughter Rini from China — a little girl with severe congenital heart disease — and the struggle to save her life.
4. After adopting a little girl from China, Holt adoptive parents Eric and Andrea open their hearts to a child they never envisioned themselves raising — a boy.
5. The stigma against unwed mothers in Korea is so pervasive and powerful that should they choose to parent, they will likely face discrimination in all areas of their lives. They will struggle to get jobs or go to college. Their families may shun them. To support young women who choose to parent, Holt helps provide free housing and other resources as they start their lives as independent single mothers in Korea. Earlier this year, Holt’s managing editor visited the Clover House in Seoul. In five years, 20 women have stayed at this government-subsidized apartment after leaving the unwed mothers shelters where they delivered their babies. Today, all of them continue to care for their babies — all on their own.
6. For many years, Holt has, with great admiration, witnessed once-struggling mothers in our family strengthening programs achieve amazing successes for the health and wellbeing of their children — often with great sacrificial love. And most recently, in Vietnam, Sang — a struggling mother in the very poor Cay Chay hamlet of Hanoi — became the sole provider for her family after her husband fell ill. Read about Sang’s fight for the health and wellbeing of her son.
7. Holt adoptive mom Mandie Hickenbottom-Conner shares about her journey to Korea and back to adopt her son, Desmond. A boy with special needs, Desmond is like many of the children wait too long to find the loving adoptive families they need and deserve.
8. Can you guess the biggest health issue facing orphaned and abandoned children? Every year, nearly 10.9 million children under the age of 5 die from preventable causes — nearly 60 percent from malnutrition. Malnutrition and hunger-related disease take more lives than tuberculosis, AIDS and malaria combined. In orphanage care, nearly 85 percent of children have significant nutrition and health-related problems — which is why Holt partnered with the SPOON Foundation to tackle malnutrition head-on.
9. Long-time supporters of the Peace House — Holt’s medical foster home in China — got the chance to visit this vital program for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs. Here, they share their journey through photos.
10. This year, thousands of people also hit our blog to learn about all the ways Holt’s adoption programs expanded this year. Our Korea program can now work in several more states and the age requirements for adoptive parents eased. Vietnam adoption opened and China announced eligibility changes for hopeful adoptive parents. We also merged with Sunny Ridge Family Center in Illinois, through which we now place children through domestic adoption in the United States.