Top Ten Holt Magazine Stories of 2014

Earlier this week, we shared our top ten stories from the Holt blog in 2014. Here, we share our top ten most-viewed stories from Holt International Magazine. Some of these stories also appeared in the two print issues we produced this year — our spring sponsor issue and summer graduate issue. Others appeared in our two online-only magazines of 2014, which we posted last February and just a few weeks ago in December.

While our online magazine is gaining more readers with every issue, we are still working to build an audience for this new platform. We love to read your comments and see when you like, share, repost and tweet our stories. These also give us a strong indication of the stories you find most inspiring or helpful and most enjoy reading. We are always striving to strengthen the quality of our content and produce a magazine of value to our readers. If you have suggestions for stories or ideas about how we could improve Holt International Magazine, please email Holt’s managing editor, Robin Munro, at

We hope you enjoy re-reading or discovering for the first time these gems from 2014! Not surprisingly, many of our most popular stories from this year were written by adoptees or adoptive parents themselves. We want to thank each and every contributor to our magazine for sharing your heartfelt and often very personal stories. This magazine would not be what it is without you!

Without further ado, here they are… Our top ten magazine stories of 2014!

1. One Family, Two Very Different Adoptions

In this popular post adoption story from our winter 2014 issue, one Holt adoptive mom discusses how she and her husband learned to parent their two children differently, based on their unique needs.

“I felt nervous, excited and confident we could bond with our second child as easily as we did with our first. Our 16-month-old daughter quickly proved me wrong.  My blessed, beautiful daughter is strong willed, extroverted, sometimes anxious and certain she can manage things better than the rest of us.  She’s going to make an awesome leader as she matures, but gosh, what a handful to parent!”

2. My True Mother, in Mind and Soul

In this year’s graduate issue of the Holt magazine — featuring adoptees who graduated high school or college in 2014 — Holt adoptee Hannah Martin shared her college application essay, in which she reflects on the meaning of motherhood. While this story came it at #2 for page views, it received the most shares on Facebook — at a whopping 836 times!

“The woman who was truly my mother in mind and soul was Angela Martin, my adoptive mother. She is the kind-hearted woman who helped me with my first loose tooth. She has celebrated 17 Christmases with me, 17 — almost 18 — birthdays, several bad driving experiences, my first broken heart, and many other moments in my life that I wouldn’t change for the world.”

3. Becoming Sisters

In this story from our most recent issue, Holt adoptee Michelle Li shares about the bond she formed with her biological sisters after meeting her birth family in Korea. When one of her sisters moved to the U.S. to live in the same town as Michelle, they began the journey of becoming sisters — an opportunity for which they are both deeply grateful.

“Finding out we have so much in common has probably been one of the most amazing discoveries.  It is an indescribable feeling to find out why you did things differently than the family you were raised with.  My interests, my temperament, my philosophy is as much genetic as it is environment.  It’s like finding a key to a mysterious door.”

4. Shelter From the Storm

At several shelters across Korea, Holt helps unwed mothers grow stable and self-reliant, regardless of whether they choose to parent or relinquish their child. In the spring 2014 issue, staff writer Billie Loewen wrote about one of these shelters and how the services provided help young women gain independence and cope with the stigma of unwed motherhood that’s still strong and pervasive in South Korea.

“Besides counseling, Holt Morning Garden offers many services to prepare the women for when they leave the shelter. Some women spend their days attending classes to finish their high school equivalency exams. Some take vocational courses — like computer or cosmetology courses — to help improve their job prospects once they leave. Some women take parenting or nutrition classes in preparation for the birth of their child. Some women are still deciding which option is best for them and their child.”

5. A Vision for Children in India

In November 2013, Holt led a group of six supporters — including sponsors, adoptive parents, an adoptee and a board member — on our first vision trip to India. Here, they saw first-hand the programs and services that Holt provides vulnerable children and families through our legacy partners in the region. For our winter 2014 magazine, trip participant and Holt staff member Sally Dougherty shared about the trip, the children and families they met, and the moments that moved them most.

“As we played with the children, I kept wondering who these children will grow up to be. Will they remain with their birth families, or will they join a new family? In India, or another country? I wonder also if they will one day return to visit the foster families and caregivers who gave them love and care when they needed it most.”

6. Family Foundations

For our post adoption piece in the spring 2014 issue, Holt adoptive mom Shila Henderson shared the lessons she and her husband learned as they helped their children overcome the effects of early trauma.

“I learned I can’t erase my children’s past, I can only come alongside them and help their wounds heal and scar — even though they sometimes break open again.  I now know that even children with the most tragic history miss what they’ve lost and the people they’ve left — even if that person hurt them the most.”

7. The Motherland

In our winter 2014 online magazine, we shared an excerpt from Holt adoptee Kim Fenneman’s recently published collection of stories, Corn-fed with Rice on the Side.

“Before I left on my trip, my parents and I had gone out to dinner. We sat outside at a restaurant patio and talked about my upcoming trip and how I was feeling. We talked about my adoption and how I had been raised and it became a profound moment for me in all of the discussions I have ever had with my parents about being adopted. We were all very candid with one another.”

8. It’s Not the Music that Blows Me Away

To build excitement for the 2014 Winter Jam Christian music tour, Holt adoptive mom Amanda Carter shared about her experience volunteering to help sign up new Holt child sponsors at two previous concerts — as well as the little girl at home who inspired her to be there.

“While Eddie showed photos on a giant screen of precious children from NewSong’s recent trip to an orphanage in China, my throat tightened up and tears streamed down my cheeks. He paused on the photo of one particular girl and told the now silent crowd, ‘For $30 a month, you can become a sponsor and change the life of this child forever.’”

9. With Love, Care and Education

As this story went to print in the summer of 2014, Vietnam was preparing to resume international adoptions to the U.S. By the time we posted it in late September, Vietnam’s Central Adoption Authority had granted Holt International a license to facilitate international adoption for a limited number of older children, sibling groups and children with special needs. In this feature story from the summer 2014 graduate issue, however, we reflect on our primary role in the region — helping children grow and thrive in the loving care of their birth families.

“For an organization like Holt to be successful in our mission, local social workers must work closely with each family — identifying their strengths and weaknesses, developing an action plan and following up on a regular basis. Some families may not have the resources to raise pigs like Loan’s family, but they can run a small grocery. Another family may need short-term emergency aid after a typhoon washes away their livelihood. A pregnant mother in crisis may come to us for help delivering and caring for her newborn baby. Or we may receive a referral for a two-parent household in which both parents have stable jobs, but they need help caring for their kids so they can work.”

10. Like One Giant Family

In November 2013, Holt held our annual gala and dinner auction in Portland from which all proceeds went to support Korea programs. This article in our winter 2014 issue features anecdotes and photos from the gala, a popular event that every year draws many Holt families, adoptees and supporters.

“In a final, powerful moment, all of the adoptees in the room stand to be recognized. Someone rises to his or her feet at nearly every table, and the room falls silent, perhaps for the first time that night, to marvel at the visual. By the end of the event, adoptees who began the night as strangers embraced and shared stories — like one, giant family.”

To read the latest issue of Holt International Magazine online, visit!

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