The Story Behind the Photo

unknownWithin this photo collage are 218 children. Each one of these children is waiting for a family through adoption. And this is just a small glimpse. At any given time, Holt is seeking families for nearly 1,000 children, most of whom never appear on our online photolisting. This National Adoption Month, join us as we go behind the scenes — using images and photos to raise awareness about the continuing need for adoption, share the diverse voices of adoptees and families, advocate for children and much, much more!

Take a moment and look at all of the sweet faces within this photo collage.

Single them out individually, and really look at them…

They range in age from infants to teenagers. They live in places like China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, the Philippines and Korea. Some have joyful, carefree smiles and others hold a shy or uncertain gaze. Each one of these children is unique, beautiful and has a story. Each one of them is growing up without a family.

They are the reason why international adoption is not over.

In a perfect world — a world without illness, stigma, poverty or darkness— there would be no need for children to be adopted. This is the world that we strive for. Through our family strengthening efforts around the world — such as unwed mother shelters, special needs daycare and microloan programs — we work to empower families. We help them overcome poverty and achieve self-reliance so that they don’t have to make the heartbreaking decision to relinquish their child in the first place. While these services help many families stay together, the reality is that each year, thousands of children are still orphaned or abandoned. And for many of these children, international adoption is their last, best option for a permanent, loving family.

For 60 years, we have made it our mission to find homes for these children. While advocating for children who need families is central to our mission at Holt International all throughout the year, we get even more excited about it each November, because November is National Adoption Month! During this month when individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. come together to raise awareness about the continuing need for adoption, we will help lead the charge. And we invite you to join us!

This November, our campaign will largely take place on social media. And this year, our theme for National Adoption Month is “the story behind the photo.” Through images, we will advocate for children who need families; raise awareness about the continuing need for adoption; dispel myths that continue to surround international and special needs adoption; share the diverse voices and viewpoints of adoptees, families and staff members; educate prospective families about the adoption process; and hopefully capture some of the joy, the heartache and the humor of building a family through adoption.

Post Placement Report - Mark Lee & Andrea Lee - Korea - Photo Release: Further_Marketing_Use Adopted Child's Country of Birth: Korea Report Month: : 1 Month Adoptive Parent's Info:  Adoptive Father's First & Last Name: Mark Lee Adoptive Mother's First & Last Name: Andrea Lee State: CA E-mail address: Adopted Child's Information:  Child's Original Name: Jeong, Ga-ong Child's New Name: Judah Ga On Lee Child's DOB: 2/14/15 Arrival Date: 8/25/16 Caption for each photo:  Judah:Daddy: Judah with Daddy at church for the first time Park: Judah loves to go to the park Naomi:Judah: Naomi loves her baby brother Nathan:Judah: Judah with big brother Nathan visiting a farm Wedding: Judah with Mommy and Daddy at a friend's wedding Aquarium: Judah loved seeing the fish at the aquarium Caleb:Judah: Judah loves playing with his big brothers Grandpa:Judah: Judah meets his grandpa for the first time (also adopted from Korea)

So much is held within a photo, and we can’t wait to share the insightful, educational and heartwarming stories behind them. Among the stories that will appear on our blog and Facebook pages this month, you’ll hear about our newest adoption programs, how one adoptee imagined her life in the U.S. before coming home, how the realities of many special needs are maybe not what you pictured, how taking photos helped one family to find joy in the process and we’ll even take submissions from you of your funniest adoptive family photos! And because children who need families are our greatest priority, you’ll of course read about some of the wonderful children who are waiting for families.

Which brings us back to our first “story behind the photo” of our 2016 National Adoption Month campaign…


There are 218 children in this photo collage. Each one of these children is waiting for a family through adoption. And this is just a small glimpse. At any given time, Holt International — just one agency out of many — is responsible for seeking families for hundreds of children, most of whom you will never see on our photolisting because they are matched too quickly.

There’s also another story behind this photo collage. And it’s that each child pictured within it is a “waiting child” — all 218 of them.

What makes waiting children distinct from other children eligible for adoption? All waiting children are considered to have special needs — but the label of “special needs” can mean many different things. Many of these children have some sort of developmental, physical or cognitive need. Some are in sibling groups. Some of them are simply above the age of 5. What they all have in common, however, is that they wait longer to be matched with the family that is right for them — a family open and equipped to caring for their unique needs. These are children like Hazel, Donald and Liana.

Nine-year-old Hazel loves to draw, talk with her two best friends and be cuddled. Before the age of 5 she was found abandoned in a eucalyptus garden. Since then, she has lived in a Holt care center where she’s received medical care for her epilepsy. Her caregivers say she is a curious child and has a special interest in meeting new people and seeing “beautiful things.” Hazel herself is beautiful, and she deserves to grow up in a loving, permanent family.


donaldDonald is 2-and-a-half years old and is growing to be an active little boy in the loving care of his foster family. He knows almost all of his animal sounds, but is attending speech therapy to expand his vocabulary. He is shy around strangers, but has a healthy attachment to his foster mom. Donald has a good appetite, loves playing with cars and currently has a fascination with opening and closing doors. Can you help us find Donald the permanent, loving family he needs?



Liana is a sweet 7-year-old with a big smile. She has hydrocephalus and dwarfism, but is otherwise healthy. She likes to color and while she draws, she often looks to her caregivers for affirmation and encouragement. This sweet girl deserves a family of her own that can provide her with all she needs to reach her fullest potential.

For more information about Hazel and Donald, email Kristen Henry at To learn more about Liana, email Jessica Zeeb at

So what’s the story behind this first National Adoption Month photo? It’s that international adoption isn’t over. These children still need families and homes of their own, and we are dedicated to helping them. While the current story behind this photo of waiting children may be one of abandonment, loss and pain, the beauty of it is that it has yet to be finished! Will you join with us to write love, family and hope into their stories?

National Adoption Month can’t be a success without YOU! In order to raise awareness of the continuing need for adoption and advocate for children to find families, we must partner together. An easy way to do this is to simply “share” these photos and stories throughout our National Adoption Month campaign.

So to start things off, will you share this post? Raise awareness about National Adoption Month, and these precious children who need families. Invite your friends and family to join you!

Together, let’s celebrate National Adoption Month and finish the “story behind the photo” for a child who is waiting.

Megan Herriott | Staff Writer

To learn more about building your family through adoption, click here!

One Reply to “The Story Behind the Photo”

  1. Praying for Liana especially to find a home. We had three bio children before we adopted two older children in 1999. Most wonderful thing we could have done for our family. Now we are grandparents. Our oldest grandson has hydrocephalus and it is so manageable. We’re too old to adopt, but Liana is in my prayers.

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