The story behind my son’s waiting child photo

Like many families, Kelly Mayfield Meineke first saw her son August on Holt’s waiting child photolisting. But it would take months and some divine intervention from Holt’s China team for them to come together as a family.

Kelly is the author of Mine In China, a guide to adopting a child from China, and also blogs at

This image of August was used on Holt’s waiting child photolisting to help find his family.

My husband and I adopted from China for the first time in 2013. An adorable little boy, Leo, came home to my husband, our four children and myself, in time to celebrate his 2nd birthday.

We knew before we left China with our son that we would be going back — though not immediately. After some adjustment time and a move to another state, we planned to start the adoption process again in May 2015.

In the months leading up to the start of our second adoption, I spent time advocating for children from Holt’s waiting child photolisting — which is the advocacy platform where we found our first son. In January 2015, I noticed a little guy had been added: “Soren.” He was completely adorable. He had a complex leg malformation, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before he found a family. Within two weeks “Soren” had “I have a family!” on his photolisting picture and I thought no more about him.

Once we officially began our second adoption process, I stopped looking at the photolisting.

While we had chosen to adopt Leo after seeing his profile on our agency’s photolisting, my husband wanted Holt to match us with our child this time.

I agreed and settled to wait impatiently for a matching call.

I thought that we would receive “the call” quickly because we were open to a boy and a fairly wide range of special needs. I was disappointed because after our homestudy was approved, we waited several weeks with no match. I tried to reassure myself that the wait would be worth it.

Finally, on a Friday in September, I got a call from Holt’s China program director, Beth Smith. I actually thought she was calling to tell us that our dossier had been sent to China that day. Instead, she started talking to me about a child who she thought we might be the right family for. As she described the little boy, I said “Hey, I remember him! He was on the photolisting in January!”

Beth confirmed that she was talking about the same boy — “Soren.” The family who had been in process to adopt him had not been able to complete the adoption for personal reasons unrelated to him. When they withdrew from the adoption process, he was matched with our family.

What are the odds that we would be matched with a child I remembered seeing nine months previously?!

August and his brother, Vincent, sharing a birthday cake in China.

We waited for some updated information, but I knew that “Soren” was going to be our son — and we named him August. We were able to travel to China in time to celebrate August’s birthday as a family, and since August now has a brother with a birthday just two days before his, we all shared cake together.

When I saw that first picture of August on the photolisting, I saw an adorable little face and naively assumed that he would be easy to place. I didn’t realize that two agencies had already searched for his family, and had not been able to place him. Without viewing his file, I had no idea that after two major surgeries in China, August’s leg still needed an extensive surgical plan for reconstruction in the United States. His solemn look and big, round eyes in his photolisting photo seemed to fit the definition of his Chinese name — “far-seeing philosopher” — perfectly. His gaze was the same in other photos we received. In several minutes of video, we never heard him make a sound. As we had already parented a child with speech delay, this did not deter us, but imagine our surprise to find that he would be our LOUDEST child by far. A little daredevil who jumps off of everything, August lands perfectly on his unaffected leg, shouting at the top of his lungs, and charming everyone with his smile.dsc_7734

Although not as quiet as I was expecting, August was and is everything I imagined when I saw that first photo. But behind the photo, he is so much more.

He is our son. It took two years, three agencies and two families, but August finally got a family for his birthday.

Kelly Mayfield Meineke | Ohio

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One Reply to “The story behind my son’s waiting child photo”

  1. Having visited with the family I can testify to the beauty of this adoption story!

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