The Story Behind the Photo: Quentin’s Unfinished Story

This November, join Holt as we go behind the scenes — using images and photos to raise awareness about the continuing need for adoption, sharing the diverse voices of adoptees and families and advocating for children waiting for families!


Today is the first day of National Adoption Month. Each day of this month, we plan to share a photo and the story behind it.

And this is our first photo… our first story.

November 11, 2011 — a 1-month-old baby waits near a police station for someone to find him. Passersby happen upon the crying infant and scan the area, hoping to find a clue as to who has left the baby behind. Locals bring him to the police station, and after an extensive search fails to locate the baby’s parents, he is brought to the social welfare institute. With no note left beside him, he enters the orphanage with only the clothes he was found in. He is given the name *Quentin.

After an extensive medical exam, Quentin is found to have spina bifida and hydrocephaly.

At a month old, Quentin is starting to smile and rapidly moves his arms and legs. As is typical with 5-week-old babies, Quentin’s schedule is erratic, but he’s slowly getting the hang of it. An early riser, Quentin awakes at 6 AM and goes down for a morning nap a couple hours later. After an occasional afternoon nap, he plays with his caregivers, and is asleep for the night by 8 PM.

Quentin has caregivers that dote on him. He has a warm place to sleep at night, and a daily routine that keeps him feeling safe and secure. What Quentin doesn’t have is the stability that only comes with the love of a permanent family.

…and he continues to wait.

Almost a year later, Quentin is transferred to a loving foster family. He receives surgery for his hydrocephaly and spina bifida, which leads to improved movement. He loves to crawl, and does so with “great speed and enthusiasm.” He also likes to eat — a lot. His favorite foods are noodles, eggs, porridge and all kinds of vegetables. He recognizes his name and likes to listen intently when people talk.

Quentin has a caring foster family and people close by who talk with him and encourage him. He receives quality medical care, has the freedom to move and play, and has nutritious food to eat.

What Quentin doesn’t have is a permanent family to sit around the dinner table with.

….and he continues to wait.

Three years later, the foster care program in Quentin’s district is unfortunately canceled, and Quentin must return to the orphanage. Fortunately, he is able to join another foster family shortly after. Although shy with new people, Quentin bonds with his new foster family quickly. He responds well to direction from his caregivers and “gives and receives affection normally.” By now, Quentin can walk, but he has some weakness in his leg muscles and his gait is uneven. He has started school, gets along well with his teacher, makes a lot of friends and is developmentally on track.

At 4 years old, Quentin is back with a loving foster family. He has friends he can play with, and educators who help him thrive.

But what he doesn’t have is a family who can help him with his homework.

…and he continues to wait.

But Quentin’s story isn’t over yet.

Look at the two photos above.

The one on the left, that’s Quentin at a year old. The one on the right is Quentin today. Last month, he turned 5. That’s five birthdays, five Christmases and five yearly photos taken of him waiting in China — waiting for a family.

But perhaps in the next couple years, Holt will be able to share another photo: a photo of the dad who holds Quentin’s hand to help him walk, of a mom who kisses him goodnight, and a brother or sister who plays with him every day.

And right there in the center of the photo will be Quentin, surrounded by stability and love, in a photo of a family.

*name changed

To see a video of Quentin, click here.

 If you are interested in having Quentin join your family, please contact Jessica Zeeb at for more information.

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